Join us for an amazing trip to the most remote and least visited national parks in the US! As one client has called this trip: it's a paddling trip down the Noatak River in Gates of the Arctic National Park with a bonus national park (Kobuk Valley)! We take a scenic flight into the heart of Arctic Alaska's Central Brooks Range, passing the jagged spires of Arrigetch Peaks, landing in the headwaters of the Noatak River, where Mt. Igikpak gives birth to Alaska's longest Wild and Scenic River. Gates of the Arctic includes more than 8 million acres, most of it designated as wilderness. We explore the wild upper Noatak valley in Gates of the Arctic National Park, with day hikes to explore beckoning side valleys and hike the ridges overlooking spectacular valleys.
The Noatak River's mountainous headwaters are part of the summer and fall territory of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd. Thousands of caribou migrate through the Noatak valley on their way to and from summer ranges north of the Brooks Range. With luck, we'll see small bands of caribou crossing the tundra or swimming the river as they head south.
Small numbers of muskoxen have moved into the region; we usually see one or two along the river. Dall sheep inhabit the mountainous headwaters; we are likely to encounter wolves, moose, fox and grizzly bears. Chum salmon spawn on a couple of the side tributaries, creating an opportunity to observe bears fishing in the creek. Many people join this trip just for the opportunity to observe grizzly bears in close proximity at an unusually prolific 'fishing hole,' where salmon return to spawn.
The Noatak is simply one of the finest rivers in the arctic, with a swift current, great day hiking, and superb wildlife viewing opportunities. After eight days on the river, we are picked up by bush plane and flown south and over the Kobuk River to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.
The Kobuk Sand Dunes is the largest dune complex in arctic North America, covering 25 square miles. Some of the dunes reach 200 feet above the surrounding taiga. Evergreen forest encroaches in some areas; in other spots, the dunes are blowing over the ground vegetation, covering the trees. Kavet Creek provides a natural boundary to one edge of the dunes. We camp here and have a couple days to explore the dunes--their wind-created patterns, animal and bird tracks, small ponds, animal dens, wildflowers, and slopes that just beg for playful sliding. In early September, we may even see the aurora borealis.
We designed this trip for people who have expressed a desire to visit all the national parks in the U.S; this is a great adventure for anyone who wants to experience outstanding wilderness in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Kobuk Valley National park. For participants interested in visiting Cape Krusenstern National Monument, we can arrange a stopover on our flight from the dunes back to Kotzebue.
For additional information about Kobuk Valley National Park and its natural features, check out these sites.
If you love national parks, join us in exploring two of the most remote national parks in the US.