Alaska Arctic Rivers

Noatak River

Noatak River

Far North of the Arctic Circle in the heart of Gates of the Arctic National Park, the Noatak is an Arctic gem. From its headwaters in the granite peaks around Mt. Igikpak, it flows west through glacier-capped peaks and rolling tundra for over 400 miles to the Chukchi Sea. Rich in wildlife and scenic beauty, it is internationally recognized as a World Heritage Site. There is no better place to experience the wilderness and wildlife of the Brooks Range than on the Noatak River.

The open country makes wildlife sightings a daily experience on the Noatak, including sightings of wolves, fox, moose and Dall sheep. Thousands upon thousands of caribou from the Western Arctic Caribou Herd migrate through the Noatak valley on their way to wintering grounds south of the Brooks Range. While paddling the Noatak you’ll pass two salmon spawning streams. These are excellent and safe places to watch grizzly bears feeding. Nor will birders be disappointed. passerines and waterfowl wing through the Noatak every fall, stopping over in the many lush willow thickets and rich ponds of the broad valley.

In addition to the natural wonders of the area, the Noatak also has a rich human history and artifacts of ancient and historic Eskimo life can be found near the deep lakes and across the tundra.

Several layover days are built into the itinerary to allow free time off the river to enjoy some of best hiking in the Arctic and to fish for Grayling, Northern Pike, Arctic Char and Lake Trout. Fall colors will begin to turn during the scheduled dates, and blueberries are fully ripe. Wildflowers like Grass of Parnassus and Arctic Poppies will grace the tundra with the last of the summer’s blooms.

This is a fairly easy 70-mile canoe trip, but you can fish and hike and explore until you’re worn out. The Noatak flows along smoothly on this stretch, with current enough to keep boats moving, but if the wind blows opposite the current you may be asked to work to reach camp at each day’s end. Toward the end of the trip the river picks up speed and you’ll get to ride the current to the take-out. Previous experience is not necessary to paddle canoes, as instruction is provided.

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 Noatak River trip begins in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fairbanks has daily service from Seattle, Washington and a variety of additional lower 48 airports on Alaska Air or Delta 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 from Fairbanks
  • Food while in the Wilderness
  • Stoves, Cooking & Eating Utensils
  • Boats, Paddles, Life Jackets
  • Safety & Repair Gear
  • Professional guide service

Why Go?

  • 70 mile journey through North America’s largest Wilderness
  • One of the most reliable regions for wildlife viewing in the Arctic
  • Phenomenal hiking along this World Heritage Site


Reservation Request


Location Noatak River, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Duration 10 Day Trip
Craft Type Ally Canoes
Activities Canoeing, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, photography
Route Summary 70 mile canoe trip through the heart of Gates of the Arctic

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