Pack raft trip in Gates of the Arctic - Please send thoughts


I am planning a trip to Gates of the Arctic. I have spent time in Alaska but have never visited this park. I have been reading about the various expeditions but wanted to ask for advice.

We are going to travel to the park in late August for a pack raft trip and would love to get suggestions on rivers that people prefer.

In an ideal world (and I say ‘ideal’ in the understanding that travel is all about trade offs, so I provide the wish list below in the knowledge that it is likely impossible to get everything we want), the trip would include the following:

  • 8 day trip to include four days of pack rafting interspersed with four days of hiking
  • Great scenery and landscape both to enjoy as we raft and for day hikes
  • Nothing too challenging on the rapids front. We are experienced back country people but have less experience rafting
  • Wildlife viewing opportunities
  • Fishing opportunities
  • Good for late August

Again, this is all in an ideal world, so I’d just like to check as many of the above boxes as possible. I’d be really appreciative if anyone could take a second and lay out the river or couple of rivers they think fit the bill! Also, if anyone could refer me to any good online resources for reading about rafting the different rivers, I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks so much!

I’m going to the same area in September for a hiking/packrafting expedition.
You’re going for a slightly shorter amount of time than me but here’s a quick outline of my current plan, maybe it helps you?

I’ll fly into Anaktuvuk Pass, and from there hike my way down to a suitable put in spot in the River John.
I’ll then be rafting all the way down to where Wolverine Creek meets the John, at which point i’ll be putting out.

Next leg is to Hike up Wolverine Creek, past/over the Iniakuk headwaters, and over onto the Nahtuk.
There’s numerous BMW trails here so lots of oppertunities to see wildlife (This is the creek where Andrew Skurka had a mexican showdown with a bear)
If i’ve made good time to here I may spend a day or two around Mount Nahtuk, and might even sumit it if i’m feeling energetic

If the Nahtuk River is raftable i’ll raft all the way down to the Alatna, but it’s 50/50 whether or not the Nahtuk will be full enough in September so I’ve allowed enough time to portage down to the Alatna if I need to.

From there it’s all the way down the Alatna to Allakaket. I know the lower Alatna is often described as a bit tame, but I don’t mind that too much, and it’s the quickest/easiest way to get to an airfield, which saves a lot of money compared to a wilderness pickup.

Both the John and the Alatna don’t go above Class III, and it’s mostly I’s and II’s so not very difficult at all on the rafting front.

Hope that helps, and if you haven’t seen it before there’s a useful topographical map here


There’s actually a much more useful topographical map at

And if anyone is interested, i’ll be posting more in depth details regarding my trip on my blog