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Gates of the Arctic
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Joseph Flanagan
Gates of the Arctic on 01/21/2010 11:03:03 MST Print View

I've done a lot of backpacking, but am new to packrafting. I was planning on doing a trip to Gates of the Arctic this summer, and I was thinking of getting an Alpacka raft and might try to include some rafting into my trip. Any advice on what rivers in Gates of the Arctic would be most suitable for a novice packrafter?


Jay C
(spruceboy) - F
perhaps the Tinyaguk on 01/29/2010 10:53:28 MST Print View

The Tinyaguk is pretty mellow (class 2) if you skip the first 15 miles or so at the headwaters and is very fun to packraft. The lower John river (or the upper John if you skip the harder sections) is pretty mellow. The north fork of the Koyukuk River is supposed to be quite mellow and scenic, but I have never done it.
I did the upper 30 miles or so of the John, and some of the Tinyaguk last summer ->

Have fun, its a beautiful place!

(EDIT: Fixed link)

Edited by spruceboy on 03/30/2010 13:00:56 MDT.

Jay C
(spruceboy) - F
GAAR rangers on 01/30/2010 19:49:42 MST Print View

I should have mentioned that some of the GAAR rangers are pack rafters and can be quite helpful when planning trips. If i understand it right they use pack rafts on some of their "patrol" floats.. The ranger stationed at Anaktuvuk last summer (Al Smith, if I remember correctly) had pack rafted a number of the rivers in GAAR and was quite helpful. If you decide to go though with a pack rafting trip, I would be sure to give them a call and discuss it. Like most Alaskan national parks there appears to be pretty high turnover, so its hit and miss - sometimes you get someone new with limited knowledge.

Karen Jetmar's book "The Alaska River Guide" has entries for lots of the rivers in that area and is probably the best river reference.

Good luck, I am sure if you decide to do some pack rafting in the gates you will have a blast - its a really beautiful place with wonderful pack rafting and superb hiking.

Karen Jettmar
(watergrl) - F
Good rivers for novice packrafters in Gates on 02/01/2010 19:05:09 MST Print View

There are lots of rivers in Gates that would be great for packrafting. The main challenge (and fun) is to figure out how long you want to be out, and how to link together hiking and float portions. Classic float and hike that has been done by many since before the 1970s, is the Kobuk/Redstone/Cutler/Noatak--or in reverse. People have hauled canoes, kayaks and folding boats over the divide in either direction. Packrafting should be a breeze.

Easy rivers to start out on--Wild River; Alatna from Arrigetch Creek, John River from Hunt Fork; North Fork Koyukuk--hike from Summit Lake and start paddling when you get sufficient water, or hike in from the Haul Road north of Coldfoot.

Joseph Flanagan
Thanks for the Advice! on 03/30/2010 12:45:45 MDT Print View

I'm sorry for not replying to thank everyone sooner. I was out of the country for a bit.

Thanks for the advice and leads. I'm looking forward to planning this trip for late July.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
"Arctic Circle" on 03/31/2010 21:55:25 MDT Print View

Here's a trip I like

Josh Sloat
(joshsloat) - F
"Arctic Circle" on 12/01/2010 08:12:06 MST Print View

The "Arctic Circle" trip looks amazing. I'm in a similar situation to the original poster - plenty of packing experience, but I'm new to packrafting. Is this trip doable/safe for novice rafters?

Joseph Flanagan
Follow-up on 03/09/2011 09:45:31 MST Print View

I had a great time at Gates of the Arctic last summer. I ended up hiking around the Arrigetch Peaks area, and then rafting down the Alatna. Since I was there alone, and since this was my first time rafting on a river with a moving current, I couldn't be quite as adventerous as some of the folks here. But, I still had a blast. Also, I found Karen Jettmar's book very helpful for planning my trip, and Roman Dial's book was also very helpful. Thanks for the advice, everyone!