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Thread: Shorter Raft Trip in Gates of the Arctic

  1. #1
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    Default Shorter Raft Trip in Gates of the Arctic

    My husband and I are interested in taking a float trip in the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Aug/Sept this year. I am struggling to find a trip that does not take longer than a week and that does not cause of to sell our house and everything in it.

    Are there any shorter/cheaper float trips that take us in the Gates of the Arctic National Park?
    Any information would be gladly appreciated, even if the answer is no.

    Thank you,
    Kelly

  2. #2
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    If you're looking into the Gates of the Arctic, it is going to be hard to get in there in less than a week. I've heard of some people getting flown in (which does get expensive). The point is that they want to keep the park secluded/isolated so you sort of have to be willing to spend some time if you want to see it.

    BTW...I see that you are from Chattanooga. I went to McCallie for 4 years in high school. Good luck!

  3. #3

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    Hi Kelly,

    Gates of the Arctic is not on the road system, along with 99 percent of northern AK, so that means using a plane to access it for float trips. That is what will largely dictate the expense of your trip (along with getting to AK in the first place). If you're looking to minimize flight time (and thus minimize cost) to the extent possible and still float a river in Gates, consider the North Fork Koyokuk or John Rivers (I know nothing about flows or class of these waters, but others do). Both start in Gates and flow south towards the town of Bettles which allows you to finish your trip in Bettles and fly out from there vs. getting picked up (saving $$). Float time will be determined by many factors including water levels, length of river floated, amount of time spent rowing vs. exploring, etc. For a more remote river, the Alatna or Noatak Rivers would be good but pricey choices.

    If your heart is not set soley on Gates of the Arctic, there are other options in the Brooks Range that can be done for less money. The Ivishak River, which many forum members have done, is a popular float that lets you end your trip at the Dalton Hwy (thus only needing to pay for a plane for the drop off). The Ivishak starts in the Arctic Nat'l Wildlife Refuge and flows through some gorgeous country. Since it is a cheaper option, it tends to get more attention from rafters (and air / jet boats on the lower river). With good flows you can do the entire river (about 80 miles) in 4-5 days (it took me 7 days under low flows).

    Good luck,

    Jeff

  4. #4

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    Hey kelly, my question would be 1) how adventerous you're feeling for this potential trip?; 2) are you fit for an ultimate packrafting adventure combined with the long trek to reach the headwaters of some grand river terrain with Gates of the Arctic?

    If you're wanting the least expensive option for a great float, you might consider flying on scheduled air service to Anaktuvuk Pass via Warbelow Air from Fairbanks. Land in Anaktuvuk and then trek about 22 miles south across the Continental Divide (through a broad valley) to the headwaters of the Tinyaguk River (National Wild & Scenic River), float down to the Koyukuk and end in Bettles. Scheduled daily air service from there back to Fairbanks. This trip is unforgettable, and I've seen a lot of great vistas...this one rates at the top, IMO.

    August is an ideal time to be there, septembers can get cold.

    You'll want 10 days to enjoy it and to recover from the first leg trek (2-day hike), but the float in a packraft would be a top-rate adventure, by any Alaska standards, and this float gives plenty for the mind to absorb.

    For the shortest trip option, slightly outside Gates, is the Wild River. Allow about 4-5 days from Wild Lake back to Bettles. Pike fishing and lake trout in the lake, grayling throughout, pike in the first several miles of the River. Not all that exciting when you compare the first one i mentioned. Affordable to reach, but you lose the wilderness appeal to some degree. Also, hunters will be around in September on the Wild, but not within the Gates borders.

    Good luck.

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    Not in the Gates of the Arctic, but still in the Arctic. Could be a great possible drive up float trip. Has anyone floated Antigun River>Sag>Deadhorse area? Looking for a cheap(er) float in mid/late august to hookup on some char and dollies.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbfreyer View Post
    Not in the Gates of the Arctic, but still in the Arctic. Could be a great possible drive up float trip. Has anyone floated Antigun River>Sag>Deadhorse area? Looking for a cheap(er) float in mid/late august to hookup on some char and dollies.
    Others know better than me, but my understanding is there is some pretty serious water on the Atigun River one would have to navigate. May not be an issue depending on your skill level. If you wanted to target char in that area, my suggest would be to have 70 North drop you off along the Ivishak River and float out to the Sag R. just north of Pump Station 2. Only needing an air taxi on one end of the trip would cut down on overall costs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shearej View Post
    Others know better than me, but my understanding is there is some pretty serious water on the Atigun River one would have to navigate. May not be an issue depending on your skill level. If you wanted to target char in that area, my suggest would be to have 70 North drop you off along the Ivishak River and float out to the Sag R. just north of Pump Station 2. Only needing an air taxi on one end of the trip would cut down on overall costs.
    Thats an idea, but the Ivishak is quite the braided stream and depending on where the drop off is portages maybe a recurring theme. Also, you suggesting a drop w/in the Brooks? That could make it worth it, but if dropped off at the start of the foothills one could cover just as much water if they drove up and put in near Sag Camp, right? I have only fished parts of the Sag and Colville, with only grayling to show for it, want to find the big char. Maybe the Ivishak is the place to find them.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbfreyer View Post
    Thats an idea, but the Ivishak is quite the braided stream and depending on where the drop off is portages maybe a recurring theme. Also, you suggesting a drop w/in the Brooks? That could make it worth it, but if dropped off at the start of the foothills one could cover just as much water if they drove up and put in near Sag Camp, right? I have only fished parts of the Sag and Colville, with only grayling to show for it, want to find the big char. Maybe the Ivishak is the place to find them.
    Plenty of big char in the Ivishak, see pic Oddly enough I never caught grayling in the Ivishak until I reached the lower river. Yes, that river is braided. I floated it from the uppermost drop off point down to the Sag late last August. Low water was an issue the first two days but afterwards we did just fine without too much dragging. On occasion we picked the wrong braid and did a little bit of dragging, but it's not like the wrong braid ran dry and we had to portage a mile back to another channel. Generally I thought it wasn't too hard to ID the correct braid to float. The upper half of the Ivishak is within the Arctic Nat'l Wildlife Refuge. If you're dropped off part way up into the refuge you'll avoid the lower water upper reaches and immediately be in good fishing waters. Early August will likely have higher flows as well.



  9. #9
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    Wow! amazing fish. thanks for all the help/info. researching other floats in the area(most fly in and out) this seems to be much more reasonable. planning and patience must now be in order.

    Kelly-have you decided on a trip? I lived in Cullowhee for a good while and floated the Tuckaseegee a few times. Its a nice float covering some beautiful country, not to mention that you end in Smoky Mt. NP

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