Noatak River & Great Kobuk Sand Dunes Combination
Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks

Noatak River & Great Kobuk Sand Dunes Combination - Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks

Spanning from the heart of the Brooks Range to the Chukchi Sea on the western coast of state, the Noatak River is home to abundant wildlife including the Western Arctic Caribou Heard.  Often comprised of close to 500,000 caribou, these nomadic animals cross the Noatak National Preserve and parts of Gates of the Arctic National Park twice a year as they travel to and from their southern wintering areas and northern calving grounds.  The Noatak is also arguably one of the largest wilderness river basins and also one of the longest untouched arctic rivers on earth.  With class I & II whitewater, the river is fun for both novice and experienced boaters, and the hiking along the river is simply astounding.  

After 6-days of river life in both Gates of the Arctic and the Noatak National Preserve, we’ll then make the bush flight to Kobuk Valley National Park and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, where we’ll have 3-full days to explore this oddity of the north. We’ll spend our days traveling around this obscure landscape with light daypacks.  The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes cover 25 square miles and constitute the largest active sand dunes within arctic latitudes.  We’ll surely marvel at the stark contrast from the Noatak River to the barren landscape that makes the sand dunes as marvelous as they are unique.

*While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip.  The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary.  Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.”  Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

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  • Aug 1, 2018 - Aug 12, 2018 | Already Full
  • Aug 15, 2018 - Aug 26, 2018 | Already Full
  • Custom Dates Available. Call for details!

Trip Details

DURATION 12 days
LENGTH 50+ miles
INTENSITY Level 2
SEASON Summer
MIN AGE 8
BEGINS IN Fairbanks
ENDS IN Anchorage or Fairbanks
AIRPORT Fairbanks International (FAI)
WILDLIFE/
SCENERY
caribou, wolves, bears
Price$5,895
Youth Price$5,895
Great ForExplorers Couples Individuals

Join us for an amazing combination guided rafting and hiking trip through two of Alaska’s most remote national parks. You’ll spend the first 6 days of our adventure kayaking and hiking along the Noatak River. The Noatak River is a federally designated Wild and Scenic River as rich with tradition as it is with wildlife, and one that still boasts a completely intact arctic ecosystem. You’ll then continue by bush plane southwest to one of Alaska’s most obscure and seldom visited national parks, Kobuk Valley National Park. Here you’ll spend 3-full days hiking and exploring the park’s Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.

What's Included

  • All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
  • All Rafting Equipment: Inflatable kayaks, life jackets, paddles plus spares, repair kits, throw bags, and dry bags
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
  • Large backpack-style drybag for transporting and storing personal gear while on trip
  • Trekking poles
  • One way bush flights from Fairbanks to the Noatak River
  • All bush flights between the Noatak, Kobuk Valley, and Kotzebue
  • One way commercial flight from Kotzebue to Anchorage
  • Lodging on the night one at the Pikes Waterfront Lodge
  • Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
  • All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
  • Storage for your extra travel items while in the field
Day
1

Today you are free to arrive in Fairbanks on your own.  From the airport, grab the complimentary airport shuttle to Pike's Waterfront Lodge, which is located near the airport on the banks of the Chena River.  After checking into the lodge, you’ll meet our guides by late afternoon in the hotel lobby. Tonight we’ll do an orientation dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant in Fairbanks and upon returning to our hotel, we’ll pour over maps and discuss the route.  Dinner & accommodations included.

Day
2

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll make our way back to the airport for our bush flight from Fairbanks to Bettles, the gateway community to Gates of the Arctic NP.  We’ll transfer our gear to an awaiting floatplane for the 1-hour flight to Pingo Lake, near the headwaters of the Noatak River in Gates of the Arctic National Park.  After a short portage of equipment and food, we’ll set up camp along the river, and if time allows, stretch our legs with an incredible hike into the tundra covered mountains above the river.  Hiking in this amazing place will help us gain a sense of the arctic landscape, and the true scale of the Alaskan wilderness.  All meals included.  Distance: 3-5 miles, Elevation Gain: 500'-1000'.

Days
3-7

We’ll spend 6 adventure-filled days floating and hiking along the Noatak River.  Our hikes will venture into the glacially carved mountains that make up this magnificent river drainage.  Our days on the river will be spent scouring the hillsides for wildlife and perfecting our paddling techniques with ample opportunities for photographs and fishing.  All meals included.  Average Daily Hiking Distance: 6-8 miles, Average Daily River Distance: 15+ miles, Average Daily Elevation Gain: 1500'-3000'.

Day
8

After our last day on the Noatak, we’ll make camp for the night at the gravel airstrip known as Otter Bar.  We’ll pack up our boats and stow our river gear one last time before preparing for our morning bush flight to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.  As we enjoy our last night along the river, we’ll tally our wildlife sightings and relax to the sounds of this amazing wilderness.  All meals included.  River Distance: 15 miles.

Days
9-11

As our small plane lifts off of our gravel runway, we’ll bid the Noatak River a fond farewell and make our way toward Kobuk Valley National Park.  The Great Kobuk Sand Dune is one of 3 clusters of sand dunes within the national park, and is one of the least visited places in the entire national park system. With light day-packs, we’ll spend our days exploring the uniqueness of the landscape of the largest active dune field in arctic North America, returning each evening to our comfortable basecamp for a great meal and conversation. All meals included.  Average Daily Distance: 7-10 miles, Elevation Gain: 500'-1000'.

Day
12

After savoring our morning coffee and our final wilderness breakfast, we’ll attempt to absorb the euphoria and recollect the vast expanse of wilderness we’ve explored.  By afternoon, we’ll board bush plane for the short flight to Kotzebue, where we’ll transfer to commercial flights bound for Anchorage and the conclusion of our adventure.   Please schedule all homebound flights for after 10 pm.  Breakfast & lunch included.

*While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip.  The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary.  Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.”  Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

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