Alaska Arctic Rivers

Kokolik River

Kokolik River

In the far northwest corner of Alaska near the Chukchi Sea is a seldom-traveled river called the Kokolik. Your guides consider it the best canoeing river in Alaska.

Tens of thousands of caribou have been seen swimming the river on nearly every trip through this Arctic region. Additionally, bears, wolves and even wolverines have been spotted on this fantastically remote Arctic canoe trip. If your interest is wildlife, this may be the trip for you!

Starting from its mountain headwaters in the Brooks Range, you will paddle North and West toward the ocean through range after range of sweeping ridges and steeply folded valleys. This is rich country and home to Alaska’s largest herd of caribou. At last count the Western Arctic herd numbered more than 380,000 animals.

The timing of this trip is scheduled to witness this magnificent herd move through the area after calving. Not only does this area support enormous numbers of caribou, but it also hosts a great diversity of other wildlife. Caribou herds attract an assortment of predators and scavengers including brown bears, wolves and the mystical wolverine. Musk oxen are frequently seen feeding in the willows of the river terraces. The Utukok Uplands through which the river flows has the highest density of wolverines in the state. Along with the abundance of wildlife, the Kokolik River valley is also rich with fossil life and human artifacts.

Bird watching in the area can be spectacular. Asian bird species such as Bluethroats and Northern Wheatears can be seen. Jaegers are ubiquitous and Bristle-thighed Curlews and Golden Plovers can be found on the rocky ridge lines. Along the rock cliffs of the Kokolik golden eagles, gyrfalcons and rough-legged Hawks can be seen nesting.

Hiking along the Kokolik River is wonderful. There are seemingly endless ridges running perpendicular to the river where the footing is good and the views are unbelievable. While not a land of dramatic peak ascents and white water, this is a place of wildlife, beauty and long vistas.

Your Guides

Owned and operated by Alaskans, this is a true wilderness guiding company with a special emphasis on Arctic adventures. Small groups (1 to 8 people) allow for a focus on traveling quietly to take in the land and its inhabitants. Small group size also allows for a diverse and spontaneous itinerary with attention dedicated to individual’s interests.

Professional guides, many who have made a career exploring remote locations of Alaska, are trained in wilderness first aid/CPR, Swiftwater Rescue and Leave No Trace.

Getting Here

The Kokolik River trip begins in Kotzebue, Alaska. Kotzebue has daily service from Anchorage, Alaska on Alaska Air. Anchorage is serviced by a number of airlines from a variety of lower 48 airports during the Summer months.

Expedition Broker can arrange all aspects of your travel including flights, hotels and additional travel while in Alaska at no cost to you. Feel free to use our local expertise to help you prepare for your trip!

What’s Included

  • Transportation beyond Kotzebue
  • Food while in the Wilderness
  • Stoves, Cooking & Eating Utensils
  • Boats, Paddles, Life Jackets
  • Safety & Repair Gear
  • Professional guide service

Why Go?

  • Witness the movement of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd
  • Super high densities of Wolverine and Musk Oxen
  • Endless options for hiking under the Midnight Sun



Reservation Request


Location Kokolik River, Western Brooks Range, Alaska
Duration 10 Day Trip
Craft Type Ally Canoes
Route Summary 60 mile canoe trip through the heart of Gates of the Arctic

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