Aichilik River Rafting in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – Incredible wildlife, hiking, birding and paddling under the Midnight Sun
The Aichilik River flows from the Romanzoff Mountains high in the Brooks Range’s eastern continental divide and flows north to the Beaufort Sea through open tundra slopes and the broad Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ANWR is the home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd and home to a myriad of nesting and migratory birds. Arctic wolves, grizzlies, dall sheep, fox, musk ox and Polar bear also make their homes here in the mountains of the Brooks Range and open tundra of the Coastal Plain.
You will fly in to the River via bush plane from the small Gwich’in community of Arctic Village after a short flight from Fairbanks. Then you and your guides will travel by paddle rafts and negotiate the swift, at times, but mostly mellow waters of the river, encountering nothing more than easy class II whitewater. You’ll travel about 35 miles of river, taking time in the mountains at the start of the trip to hike and explore in the easy walking of the alpine tundra before you’ll float through the northern foothills and across the expansive tundra out to the coast and end the trip at Beaufort lagoon on the shores of the Arctic River.
We’ll hope to cross paths with some of the Porcupine Caribou Herd as they leave the coast for the mountains and points further south. Birding out on the Coastal Plain is spectacular as hundreds of thousands of birds breed out on the rich expanse of tundra, grasses and lakes. You’ll experience a wide diversity of environments as the trip begins in the mountains and foothills and transitions to the expansive Coastal Plain and then finally reaching the sandy, driftwood strewn shores of the Beaufort Sea.
This is an exploratory trip and while your guides are highly skilled Arctic river professionals, new country, views and experiences will be in store for everyone around every river bend.