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Hulahula White-water Rafting

Hulahula River Rafting Trip from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean

Raft from the peaks of the Brooks Range to the frozen Arctic Ocean. White-water and wildlife abound on this 11 day rafting adventure in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

• Dates: June 12 - 22, 2015
• Region: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—mountains, northern foothills, coastal plain, and coast. 

• Cost: $5,000/ person from Fairbanks


This trip combines with our High Peaks Backpack for a mountains to sea adventure of a lifetime. June 6- 22. Discounts apply.

Sketch of the Hulahula Rafting trip…

The Hulahula is an elemental river.  We begin our 90-mile paddle in the Hulahula’s headwaters, where the river is narrow and swift. 9,000-foot peaks tower over the tundra valley and a sense of adventure fills the air. From this dramatic start the river races towards the sea, showing us steep canyons, peaceful meadows, ice fields, wildlife and much more.


Our Hulahula raft trip traverses the great diversity of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Starting near the high peaks of the Brooks Range and ending at the cold arctic sea. There is no better way to experience the grandeur of the region.  We start with several days paddling and hiking in the mountains, then paddle the canyon’s Class III rapids, before spilling into the foothills.  Two more days of nonstop Class II rapids take us to the coastal plain, a wilderness region unlike any other—with stunning views and superb camping.  Then we continue on through the river’s delta to the Arctic Ocean, where we make our last night’s camp on a gravel island next to the Arctic sea-ice.

The beauty of this trip is in the diversity of landscapes and wildlife. High in the mountains Dall sheep dot the mountain-sides and bears dig roots on the river flats. In the foothills we often see wolves hunting marmots or following caribou trails. The coastal plain is where we may see musk oxen and we will keep our eyes peeled for arctic fox as we approach the coast. On this trip, we also have good chances of seeing peregrine falcons, golden eagles, jaegers, plovers, and a great variety of other migratory birds. 

Hiking in the mountains and on the tundra is excellent.  Our travel schedule allows three layover days to hike the country, and plenty of free time each day.  No experience is required for paddle rafting, as instruction is provided. Everyone joins in the fun of paddling the boats under the guidance of a raft captain. Everyone will be busy and engaged on this small rock studded river. There are no "passengers" in our rafts.


Summer travel in the arctic can be rigorous and participants should be ready for anything, including low water levels that require us to get out of the boats and drag them over shallow spots.  A half-mile portage is typical at the end of this trip. The hiking opportunities are limitless; from easy ambles up the valley, to all day peak ascents. Day-hikes will be tailored to your interests and abilities.


On a wilderness trip like the Hulahula, one never knows what conditions we may face nor what opportunities might arise. This is the nature, and the honor, of wilderness travel.

Hulahula River Romanzof Mountains Alaska
Whitewater Rafting the Hulahula River
Arctic Ocean Alaska Trips

Hulahula Rafting Itinerary

What follows is a general flow of events.

Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.


June 11: Pre-trip meeting with your guide(s) in Fairbanks.


June 12: Fly north from Fairbanks across the Yukon River, the Arctic Circle, and the Brooks Range, to the headwaters of the Hulahula River.  We’ll make a comfortable camp, have a good dinner, and watch the sun refuse to set!  Welcome to the arctic!  We can climb a small hill for a lovely view of the valley ahead. 

June 13- 21:
We’ll paddle and hike our way down the Hulahula River, allowing for three layover days for hiking and exploring.  We’ll take a layover in the mountains, another on the coastal plain, and another on the river’s delta en route to the Arctic Ocean.

June 22: Awake this morning at the northern edge of the continent.  Weather permitting, we get a boat ride to the Eskimo Village of Kaktovik and then fly back south across the Brooks Range, the Arctic Circle, and the Yukon River to Fairbanks.  Time to change your socks!




Hulahula River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge photo
Hulahula River Rafting

Hulahula Whitewater Rafting Details

Included in the price of the trip: Transportation beyond Fairbanks, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear and professional guide service.


Not included in the price of the trip: Lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, waterproof river bag, fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guide(s). An equipment list is provided upon registration. Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild. (Please note that if you are unable to depart Kaktovik on June 22 as scheduled, you will need to get yourself meals and a hotel in Kaktovik. This is not included in the trip price.)


Weather & Bugs: Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic and can range from the 20s to 70s.  When the wind comes from the north, the temperature can drop to below freezing. Cold rains and snow are possible, but we get lots of sunny weather this time of the year.  This trip happens during mosquito season, though bugs are made more bearable by cool, coastal breezes as we near the coast.  Bring along a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent.


Suggested Reading: Land of Extremes, Alex Huryn; Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Geographic; Midnight Wilderness, Debbie Miller; Being Caribou, Karsten Heuer; Land of Extremes, Alex Huryn. More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore.


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