- Class I-II
- River Length
- 10 days
- 10 days
The Noatak River, located North of the Arctic Circle, originates in the wilderness of the 8.7 million acre Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. From Gates of the Arctic, the Noatak River flows into the Noatak National Preserve, a biosphere established by the United Nations protecting an additional 6.7 million acres of watershed. Federally designated as Wild & Scenic, the Noatak River winds over 425 miles to Kotzebue Sound and the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean, draining the glaciers on Mt. Igipak and the Baird DeLong Mountains of the Brooks Range.
Easy riffle rapids occasionally interrupt the calm meandering flow of the Noatak River. The Noatak River’s waters are silty and cold, fed by one of the few mountain ringed river basins with a verifiably intact ecosystem. Caribou, Grizzly Bear, Musk Oxen and Wolves can often be seen along the Noatak’s banks as it flows through treeless high Tundra.
Views of the Brooks Range, rolling hillsides of tundra and the Arctic Plains off to the sea make the Noatak River an amazing visual treat! An added bonus to a trip on the Noatak River is its reputation as a strong fishery, with great fishing opportunity for Arctic Char, Northern Pike and Arctic Grayling.
The Noatak River is accessed via flight from Fairbanks to the bush community of Bettles with an additional float-plane flight to the put-in at Twelve Mile Slough. At the conclusion of the trip, visitors are shuttled back to Bettles via float-plane pickup from Kavacherak Lake for a return trip to Fairbanks. The Noatak is usually floated in August, which finds the Arctic Tundra already in full fall foliage. Nights are longer during August on the Noatak River and visitors will find outstanding opportunity for stargazing and observation of the Aurora Borealis.
Visitors to rivers in the high Arctic should be adventurous and open minded. The Arctic region is a harsh environment and can require a bit of tolerance from her visitors. Weather in the Arctic can range from 80 degrees and sunny to 40 degrees and raining to 20 degrees and snowing, all within an hour. Gnats, mosquitoes and biting flies that see human visitors as a miraculous food source can also become an issue in the high Arctic. Proper measures should be taken by all visitors to the region to ensure their enjoyment of the experience. For those visitors willing to make the trip to the Arctic it is sure to be an amazing experience that will never be forgotten.