Rafting the Arctic Hulahula River

Fairbanks, Alaska

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From its headwaters in the Brooks Range, the Hulahula River flows through rolling tundra and a breathtaking canyon before spilling onto the vast coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on its way to the Beaufort Sea. This lush wildflower-dotted landscape is home to an outstanding variety of wildlife, including Dall sheep, musk oxen, grizzlies, and coastal birds. Experience the wonders of this swift-flowing river as you raft almost 100 miles on thrilling Class III-IV whitewater — perfect for paddling enthusiasts — and enjoy hiking and camping in pure Arctic wilderness.


Duration: 13 Days
Starts in: Fairbanks, Alaska
Ends in: Fairbanks, Alaska
Group Size: 1-5

Operated by:

MT Sobek

MT Sobek, the originators, innovators and leaders in adventure travel for more than five decades, crafts journeys to the world's most memorable places.


Arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska

Arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska by 3:30pm to have enough time to check-in and prepare for a 5pm pre-trip meeting and welcome dinner. Meet the group and have all your questions answered by the guides prior to departing the next day. It'll be an early night to prepare for tomorrow's adventure.

Travel to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Rise to embark on a spectacular 300-mile bush plane flight over the Yukon River Flats to Arctic Village. Here switch to a smaller plane and continue north over the Brooks Range and to the upper Hulahula River, located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) — a land of majestic mountains and rolling tundra. The plane will land on a small gravel bar near the river's headwaters — the site of the first camp.

Launch Down the Hulahula River

On the first full day on the river, take time to become acquainted with the pace of the river and the expansive tundra landscape that surrounds this legendary river in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Make camp along the riverside and enjoy the sounds of the wilderness and the babbling river.

Raft Below Towering Peaks

The scenery is breathtaking as the river flows between the highest peaks in the Brooks Range — Mount Ishto, Chamberlain and Michelson — all towering at 9,000 feet above sea level. Pull into camp for the night and enjoy a delicious meal prepared by the guides. You'll understand why food tastes so much better in the wilderness after an adventurous day.

Hike Up Esetuk Creek

After a relaxed breakfast, grab your daypack for a day of hiking alongside Esetuk Creek — which is the first grey cloudy creek bringing the glacial silt from the glaciers above you in the Brooks Range. See the flora and fauna start to change as you explore this landscape by foot today.

Raft “The Gorge”

Make your way through the journey's swiftest and rockiest stretch of the river. Under the helm of expert guides, navigate this dynamic section with three distinct unnamed rapids. Then take a short walk through the tundra, taking in superb views of the rapids and the Kikiktat Mountains in the distance.

Navigate the Boulder Gardens

As today continues, notice the gradient continue to become steeper as you leave the mountains. That speeds up the river momentum — and provides for a scenic day as you move through the vast Arctic landscape, over and around boulders that make for fun rapids.

Hike the Foothills of the Brooks Range

Enjoy a leisurely morning, though the endless summertime sun will be shining for almost 24 hours. With a packed lunch, make your way to a hike that captures the view of the Brooks Range above, with its many unnamed mountains and a dazzling landscape descending into the horizon. Look hard enough and you may just see the ocean.

Descend into the Coastal Plains

Keep your eyes wide open for the abundant wildlife that roams this spectacular open landscape. The vastness and lack of large brush assist in making this region prime for wildlife spotting, featuring species like porcupine caribou herd, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, and possibly musk ox.

Spend the Day Unwinding by the River

Enjoy one of the last few days in the depths of the Alaskan wilderness. Stay in camp for reading, wildlife spotting, or other leisurely activities. There will be optional group hiking, with lengths and distances depending on the weather.

Float through Open Fields

Today, discover the Arctic coastal plain — low relief tundra comprised of alluvial channels, estuaries, and innumerable lakes where unparalleled grand vistas stretch for miles. The mellow river lends way to a day filled with world-famous birding, fishing for Arctic char and grayling, or taking a turn on the oars.

Reach the Beaufort Sea

The sounds of ocean birds and the smell of salt water indicate you've almost reached the Beaufort Sea. Once again you will be stunned by the vastly changing landscape. Feel a sense of joy and adventure as you take that first paddle stroke into the ocean waves. This evening, watch the floating icebergs on the horizon from the ocean-side camp.

Return to Fairbanks & Depart

Break camp and await the arrival of bush planes for the flight to Kaktovik — home of the Inupiat Peoples, followed by a flight back to Fairbanks by 7pm.


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