The Canning River, and its western tributary, the Marsh Fork, flow north, carving their way through rugged limestone canyons, and over small rocky rapids. We find spectacular geology and fun whitewater along the Marsh Fork's upper reaches, as the river pinches through canyons of uplifted ancient seabeds. The rugged beauty of the upper Marsh Fork has inspired many an artist to linger in these convoluted peaks.
We take every opportunity to explore the mountains and side valleys, walking in the footsteps of caribou, wolves and muskoxen. At the confluence with the Canning River, the valley opens up into a broad U-shaped valley. As we descend towards the coastal plain, we have an opportunity to explore the tundra and lake ecosystems of the coastal plain.
The Canning River is a surreal emerald green, so clear that we see arctic char and grayling swimming twelve feet down. For the birder, there are over 80 species of birds, including the elusive grey-headed chickadee. Birds of prey find the river corridor attractive for nesting; we're likely to see golden eagles, peregrine falcons, rough-legged hawks, and gyrfalcons. Four of the five arctic species of loons breed here.
Caribou are common, as well as muskoxen, along with moose, grizzly bears, wolves, and foxes. A protected microclimate has allowed a small grove of balsam poplar trees to flourish in the Canning Valley; nearby lies a year-round spring.
This is a hiker's paradise, as well as an exciting paddling river, with a section of small rapids on the upper Marsh Fork, and good traveling conditions and fast current throughout. Our schedule is flexible, since we have nearly 24 hours of daylight! There is time for photography, wildlife viewing, and wildflower identification, exploring valleys, or climbing mountains.
If you love the mountains, hiking, wildlife viewing, solitude, constant daylight, and endless space for exploration, this is your trip. Don't worry if you've never paddle rafted before; we'll teach you. Intermediate canoeists may choose to paddle our sturdy tandem boats.
Day 1: Fly from Fairbanks to Arctic Village. Tour Arctic Village. Fly by small bushplane over the Brooks Range to the Canning River. Hiking. Camp in the wilderness. (L) (D)
Day 2: On the river, with time out for wildlife viewing, hiking, exploring, learning the geology and natural history of the region. (B) (L) (D)
Day 3: On the river. We paddle through a corridor of mountains, alternating river days with hiking days, in order to explore 3 separate mountain ranges and valleys that we traverse along the way. As we descend the river, we’re always on the lookout for wildlife; out on the plain we may encounter nesting snowy owls and tundra swans. (B) (L) (D)
Day 4: On the river. Layover day for hiking. A couple National Natural Landmarks lie within the river corridor: Shublik Hot Springs and the Canning Forest. The warm springs arises near a tributary of the Canning River, supporting Alaska’s best developed and farthest north stand of balsam poplar. A lush assortment of vegetation exists here. (B) (L) (D)
Day 5: On the river. (B) (L) (D)
Day 6: On the river. Layover day for hiking and exploring. (B) (L) (D)
Day 7: On the river. (B) (L) (D)
Day 8: On the river. Layover day for hiking and exploring. (B) (L) (D)
Day 9: On the river. Paddling across the arctic coastal plain, arrive at the take-out, a bluff on the tundra beside the river. (B) (L) (D)
Day 10: Pick-up by small bushplane, and fly over the Brooks Range, back to Arctic Village. Fly back to Fairbanks. Share a post-trip dinner. (B) (L)
$4295 from Fairbanks, Alaska
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USA Alaska Outdoor: Water Drifter Canoeing/Kayaking/Rafting Wildlife Viewing