skip to Main Content

Noatak River & Great Kobuk Sand Dunes Combination

$7,695 /person

Trip Details

$7,695 /person - 12-days

Spanning from the heart of the Brooks Range to the Chukchi Sea on the western coast of state, the Noatak River is home to abundant wildlife including the Western Arctic Caribou Heard. Often comprised of close to 500,000 caribou, these nomadic animals cross the Noatak National Preserve and parts of Gates of the Arctic National Park twice a year as they travel to and from their southern wintering areas and northern calving grounds. The Noatak is also arguably one of the largest wilderness river basins and also one of the longest untouched arctic rivers on earth. With class I & II whitewater, the river is fun for both novice and experienced boaters, and the hiking along the river is simply astounding.

After 6-days of river life in both Gates of the Arctic and the Noatak National Preserve, we’ll then make the bush flight to Kobuk Valley National Park and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, where we’ll have 2-full days to explore this oddity of the north. We’ll spend our days traveling around this obscure landscape with light daypacks. The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes cover 25 square miles and constitute the largest active sand dunes within arctic latitudes. We’ll surely marvel at the stark contrast from the Noatak River to the barren landscape that makes the sand dunes as marvelous as they are unique.

Join us for an amazing combination guided rafting and hiking trip through two of Alaska’s most remote national parks. You’ll spend the first 6 days of our adventure canoeing and hiking along the Noatak River. The Noatak River is a federally designated Wild and Scenic River as rich with tradition as it is with wildlife, and one that still boasts a completely intact arctic ecosystem. You’ll then continue by bush plane southwest to one of Alaska’s most obscure and seldom visited national parks, Kobuk Valley National Park. Here you’ll spend 2-full days hiking and exploring the park’s Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.


Day 1
Dinner & accommodations included

Today you are free to arrive in Fairbanks on your own. From the airport, grab the complimentary airport shuttle to Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, which is located near the airport on the banks of the Chena River.  After checking into the lodge, you’ll meet our guides by late afternoon in the hotel lobby.  Tonight we’ll do an orientation dinner in Fairbanks and upon returning to our hotel, we’ll pore over maps and discuss the route.

Day 2
All meals included, Distance: 3-5 miles, Elevation Gain: 500′-1000′

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll make our way back to the airport for our bush flight from Fairbanks to Bettles, the gateway community to Gates of the Arctic NP.  We’ll transfer our gear to an awaiting floatplane for the 1-hour flight to Pingo Lake, near the headwaters of the Noatak River in Gates of the Arctic National Park.  After a short portage of equipment and food, we’ll set up camp along the river, and if time allows, stretch our legs with an incredible hike into the tundra covered mountains above the river.  Hiking in this amazing place will help us gain a sense of the arctic landscape, and the true scale of the Alaskan wilderness.

Day 3-7
All meals included, Average Daily Hiking Distance: 6-8 miles, Average Daily River Distance: 15+ miles, Average Daily Elevation Gain: 1500′-3000′

We’ll spend 6 adventure-filled days floating and hiking along the Noatak River.  Our hikes will venture into the glacially carved mountains that make up this magnificent river drainage.  Our days on the river will be spent scouring the hillsides for wildlife and perfecting our paddling techniques with ample opportunities for photographs and fishing.

Day 8
All meals included, River Distance: 15 miles

After our last day on the Noatak, we’ll make camp for the night at the gravel airstrip known as Otter Bar.  We’ll pack up our boats and stow our river gear one last time before preparing for our morning bush flight to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.  As we enjoy our last night along the river, we’ll tally our wildlife sightings and relax to the sounds of this amazing wilderness.

Day 9-11
All meals included, Average Daily Distance: 7-10 miles, Elevation Gain: 500′-1000′

As our small plane lifts off of our gravel runway, we’ll bid the Noatak River a fond farewell and make our way toward Kobuk Valley National Park.  The Great Kobuk Sand Dune is one of 3 clusters of sand dunes within the national park, and is one of the least visited places in the entire national park system.  With light day-packs, we’ll spend our days exploring the uniqueness of the landscape of the largest active dune field in arctic North America, returning each evening to our comfortable basecamp for a great meal and conversation.

Day 12
Breakfast & lunch included

After savoring our morning coffee and our final wilderness breakfast, we’ll attempt to absorb the euphoria and recollect the vast expanse of wilderness we’ve explored.  By afternoon, we’ll board bush plane for the short flight to Kotzebue, where we’ll transfer to commercial flights bound for Anchorage and the conclusion of our adventure.  Please schedule all homebound flights for after 10 pm.

What's Included

  • All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
  • All Rafting Equipment: Inflatable canoes, life jackets, paddles plus spares, repair kits, throw bags, and dry bags
  • Toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
  • Large backpack-style drybag for transporting and storing personal gear while on trip
  • Water treatment options
  • Trekking poles
  • One way bush flights from Fairbanks to the Noatak River
  • All bush flights between the Noatak, Kobuk Valley, and Kotzebue
  • One way commercial flight from Kotzebue to Anchorage
  • Lodging on the night one at the Pikes Waterfront Lodge
  • Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
  • All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
  • Storage for your extra travel items while in the field

Alaska Factor: The Real Deal

While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip. The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary. Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.”

Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

Available Dates

Guaranteed Trip
This date is guaranteed! The minimum number of participants have already signed up for this adventure.
Has Bookings
Some people have already signed up for this date! Although not enough to meet the minimum requirements to guarantee the date, it is likely it will go. Your booking may even be the one that kicks it over to guaranteed!
Book this trip and save! As the first person to sign-up for this date, you'll get a free AAA hat or tee shirt *Limit of one per date.
Custom dates available. Call for details.

Trip Stats

$7,695 /person
50+ miles
Level 2
Min Age:
Begins In:
Ends In:
Fairbanks International (FAI)
Caribou, Wolves, Bears
Great For:
Explorers, Families, Couples, Individuals

Get Ready

What to Pack:

Helpful gear suggestions and recommendations for this trip.

Gear List

Download a detailed itinerary of this trip.



Trip Reviews

Both Brian and Dan were phenomenal guides and took the experience to another level. They were extremely helpful and engaged throughout the week, and they ensured our safety while maximizing fun.

Could not be improved by much. Both guides were wonderful. The activities were just right as were  the accommodations.  Weather was perfect, activities were fine and both guides were willing to go out of their were to make sure we all had the best time.

Great trekking, great guides and great food… just a really spectacular experience from start to finish. You’ve got a repeat customer in me for sure.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. If anything, I would have planned for a longer stay! Thanks to all of you who made it easy for me to enjoy the Alaskan wild!  The trip exceeded all of my over the top expectations!

Looking for more reviews? View all trip testimonials.

Trip Photos

Trip FAQs

Have questions about this trip? We’ve got answers.

Why go to Gates of the Arctic National Park?

Gates of the Arctic National Park, despite being the recipient of frequent media attention over the past 45 years, remains one of the most remote and unspoiled places on earth. Its 8.4 million acres cover an area twice the size of Connecticut and only slightly smaller than Switzerland. The park is essentially a road less wilderness area and, except for limited and difficult access along the Dalton highway. Traversing the landscape alters our sense of scale as well as our definition of true wilderness. Rafting, hiking, and backpacking in Gates of the Arctic are the activities that Alaska Alpine Adventures specializes in and we have been operating in Gates of the Arctic National Park since 2005.

Where is Gates of the Arctic National Park?

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve lies 250 miles north of Fairbanks, and over 450 miles north of Anchorage. The national park is the central component of the 700 square mile protected Brooks Range. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is to the east, and the Noatak Preserve is to the west.

Where is Kobuk Valley National Park?

Kobuk Valley National Park located in northwestern Alaska 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and roughly 100 miles from Kotzebue and the western coast of Alaska.

How do you get to Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley?

Access to Gates of the Arctic National Park is mainly by small aircraft or, in some instances, can be arduously accessed by foot.

Is transportation to Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley included in the price of the trip?

Absolutely, our Arctic trips are all inclusive from Fairbanks. All you need to do is get yourself to our lodge in Fairbanks on Day 1 of your itinerary.

Where will you meet us?

Your Alaska Alpine Adventures guide(s) will meet you in the afternoon at the lodge on Day 1 for an orientation dinner and gear check.

Who will I be flying with and what time will we be departing on day two?

You will join your guides for breakfast at the lodge on the morning of Day 2. From there, the group will shuttle to the air taxi for the flight to Bettles. We will be flying with Wright Air from Fairbanks to Bettles. From there, we’ll transfer to the float plane lake in Bettles for our float plane flight into the wilderness with Brooks Range Aviation. We’ll be picked from the Noatak river on a small gravel bar by Kotzebue based Golden Eagle Outfitters.

Are Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National parks good places for viewing wildlife?

Absolutely. The parks are home to grizzly and black bears, dall sheep, caribou, moose, wolves, and tremendous seasonal populations of migratory birds.

I'm traveling solo. Is there a single supplement charge?

Yes, there is an additional fee of $275 if you request OR end up in your own room at the hotel on night one.

For additional information, please reach out to us.

Related Trips

Arrigetch-Alatna Pack Raft - Gates Of The Arctic National Park

Arrigetch-Alatna Pack Raft – Gates of the Arctic National Park

Duration:  12-days
Distance:  35+ miles, 50+ river miles
Intensity:  Level 3
Cost:  $6,795