Hulahula River Alaska Rafting_ANWR

Alaska’s Canning River
Paddling and Hiking in The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Wildlife Viewing, Fishing, and Nature Photography

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The Marsh Fork and Main Forks of the Canning--
Explore the High Arctic by Raft and on Foot


Detailed Itinerary (Aug 5-17, 2024)
Day 0-Aug 4 Hometown-Fairbanks

Leave Hometown and arrive in Fairbanks. Take local taxis to hotel. After dinner, we'll have a brief but mandatory orientation session at 6:00 PM at hotel. (Final determination of hotel will be mailed out in trip addendum). Overnight in hotel or B & B..

Day 1-Aug 5: Fairbanks - Arctic Village - Marsh Fork of the Canning

canning_river_rafting_marsh_fork_arctic_rivers_ANWRAt approximately 8:30 AM we will fly to Arctic Village on a charter flight across sedge ponds, meandering rivers, and tundra. Once in Arctic Village, we will transfer our gear to our bush planes and fly over the Brooks Range to the Marsh Fork of the Canning River. We'll land on a gravel bar along the river, unload our planes and portage our gear about 1/4 mile to the river where we'll make camp. From above, the limitless expanse of the tundra's colors all flow together, anonymous, barren, and concealing the subtle beauty that will only be revealed when we walk on the land below. Hours after landing, we will begin to gain a sense of the serenity of this magical land and the teeming life that is beginning to flourish around us. Our camp will be approximately twenty miles north of the Arctic Divide.

As we peer around us, we'll find that there is plenty of color to be discovered. Lichens are splashed against the rocks and the soft ground surrounding us is filled with small plants (tundra) that are beginning to exuberantly show their fall colors.

Days 2-11; Aug 6-Aug 15: Rafting and Hiking the Marsh Fork and Main Fork of the Canning

arctic national wildlife refuge_hulahula rafting trips_arctic river trips_arctic rivers_north slope riversSince we have a tremendous amount of daylight each day, our schedule will be leisurely and flexible. After paddling each day on this swift river, we'll take extraordinary rambles in search for the denizens of landscape the caribou, other Arctic mammals, birdlife, and wildflowers. The scenery is spectacular and the river valley provides countless possiblilites for hiking to the high ridges. En route, we will have opportunities to fish for arctic char and grayling (bring your fishing gear).

Since one of our goals is the observation and photographing of wildlife, we will take advantage of our layover days and daylight and saunter across the landscape to avail ourselves of wildlife-viewing possibilities. We will not be governed by our clocks, but by the patterns of the animals we choose to observe. This trip is really designed so that we may behave as if we were the Inuit, the people who have inhabited this area for thousands of year. From our camp, we will wander off like hunter-gatherers and then return to the comforts of our nomadic structures.

Day 12-Aug 16: River Take-out on the Arctic Plain- Arctic Village - Fairbanks

hulahula rafting_arctic nat'l wildlife refuge_alaska river rafting_whitwater rafting

We'll camp where we are going to get picked up by our bush planes and then either fly directly back to Fairbanks or to Arctic Village and then onto Fairbanks. We'll return to our hotel and go out on the town to celebrate our successful outing in the Arctic. (No host dinner)

Day After Trip-Aug 17: Fairbanks to Hometown
Transfer to airport for flights home.

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Special Travel Note:

Safety is the most important factor in operating any trip and our pilots will not attempt to fly us out if the weather is either socked in or turbulent. We encourage you to spend an extra day or two in Fairbanks in the event that our flights out of the ANWR are delayed. We will provide a list of hotel and B & B possiblities for your lodging in Fairbanks. We urge all participants to arrange their schedules after the trip in such a fashion as to accommodate any delays that might occur in flying out of the Refuge.



Approx: $7500 per person (7-8 participants) (Includes all internal flights)

Approx: $7850 per person (5-6 participants) (Includes all internal flights)

Small Group Surcharge: $350/person (5-6 participants)

Our trips are budgeted for a full or almost full sign-up. As you can well appreciate, it is much more costly to operate a trip with 5 or 6 passengers than with 7 or 8! In order to avoid canceling a trip, we prefer to charge a little more to cover our fixed costs if there is a low sign-up. We have found that our clients would rather contribute a bit more than see the trip canceled. We invoice you at the highest tier price (the smallest group size we can operate) until final payment is due. If the price drops due to an increase in group size before your trip departs, you will be refunded the difference. (See Booking Information Supplement).

*All ground and air transportation beginning and ending in Fairbanks
*All meals in camp beginning with dinner on Day 1 and ending with lunch on Day 11
*Group commissary
*ANWR user day permit and fees

*Airfare from hometown to Fairbanks, Alaska and return
*Accommodations in Fairbanks the night prior to the trip and at trip's end. Approx. $75-$150/night
*Airport transfers
*Airport taxes (if any)
*Items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.
*Accident/baggage/trip cancellation insurance: $405/person.
*Alaska sport fishing license: Resident Annual Sport Fishing License, $24;
    Nonresident sport fishing license: 7-day, $55; 14-day, $80.
    State of Alaska Licensing Fees
*Gratuities to guides

*Delays: If the trip is delayed because of bad weather, cancelled or delayed flights or delays on other modes of transport, sickness or other situations for which James Henry River Journeys or its agents cannot make provisions, the cost of delays is not included.
*Any additional hotel nights due to inclement weather or changes in airline scheduling

Our staff is experienced in advising which flights are best for your departure and we would be happy to pass that information onto you.

A completed Reservation Form including The Release and Assumption of Risk and a $1000 deposit per person is required to book space on the trip. A second deposit of $1200 is due four months before departure. Final payment of land cost and airfare is due 90 days before departure.

One may either fly to Fairbanks, take a train from Anchorage, or drive. You are responsible for getting to Fairbanks. Although James Henry River Journeys does not do air ticketing, we can help facilitate your air and travel arrangements. More detailed travel logistics are mailed out upon registration.

We will send you a a recommended hotel/B&B to stay at prior and after the trip. Please contact our office and let us know when and how you will be meeting us after your travel arrangements have been made.

The trip will be conducted by James Henry River Journeys who has a special use permit to operate natural history and photographic, river and walking trips in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. James Henry River Journeys is an equal opportunity service provider.

James Henry River Journeys has been conducting trips in the Arctic since 1977 and in British Columbia and Alaska since 1976. James Henry River Journeys is also a National Park Service Concessionaire in Glacier Bay Nat'l Park and Preserve. James Henry River Journeys has also been an outfitter for the National Geographic Society in the Arctic.

The Canning River expedition will be led by James Katz, director of James Henry River Journeys and his veteran crew. James has been leading wilderness trips for 51 years and has been leading trips to British Columbia and Alaska since 1974. He has also outfitted trips for the National Geographic Society in the Brooks Range and has been on assignment as a nature photographer for the Geographic in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. James was a photo instructor for UC Santa Cruz Extension and UC Berkeley Extensions for 25 years.

SPECIAL THEMES AND INSTRUCTORS: Please refer to our Expedition Schedule and to our Final Trip Addendum for leader assignments. Please note that leaders are often lined up for a specific trip one year in advance and sometimes we have to make substitutions. Final Addendum is sent to trip participants one month before departure.

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All trip members must be in excellent health and good physical condition. The river rafting is mildly strenuous-strenuous. We are taking all paddleboats; usually three paddlers and a guide in each boat. The gear and food is put in the middle of the boat. Hiking is optional. One can hike as hard as one likes on this trip. While day hiking, we will be walking over sedge tussocks, gravel bars, and perhaps crossing small streams. Individuals will need only carry a light day pack while hiking. Since this trip is in one of the most remote wilderness areas in North America, the group will be entirely self-sufficient. We will take all of our provisions with us from Fairbanks.

As guides, and trip leaders, we consider ourselves equal and active participants willing to share our experience, knowledge, and skills. Encountering the elements often brings about a sense of spiritual and physical elation that draws people together. This shared rapture is an integral part of the personal adventure. We welcome anyone who is 16 years or older (although a very solid and fit 15 year-old would do well) and wants to partake in the spirit of wilderness living and travel.

dall sheep_arctic national_wildlife refuge_hula_hula river_alaska whitewater_raftingWe have attempted to schedule our trip a little later in the season in order to avoid the higher density of rafting groups that go earlier in the year. By going later in the summer, we also avoid the high concentration of mosquito populations that proliferate in late June through July. We stand a terrific chance of observing a variety of arctic animals as we travel downstream and while hiking on our layover days. By traveling in the high Arctic, we have long periods of daylight and a flexible itinerary.

The final itinerary will ultimately be determined by conditions as they exist on the trip. Final determination of this itinerary is made by the trip leader. Though in past years our Arctic trips have ended exactly as scheduled, we urge you to leave your return plans flexible by a few days in event of any unforeseen delays. In other words, don't schedule your heaviest appointments for the day after you are to return from Fairbanks. We could be delayed.

This ANWR trip has been planned to coincide with reliable water levels with channels not blocked by aufeis, the clarity of the streambed, lack of mosquitoes, and fine fishing opportunities. It is also a delightful time to witness the fall colors on the tundra.

The Arctic is essentially a desert with regard to precipitation. There is seldom more than 6 inches of precipitation for a year. Days tend to be clear and sunny, with temperatures seldom falling below 50 degrees. However, all participants must be prepared for wind, rain, and snow with temperatures in the 30's and 40's and below freezing at night. In short, the climate is Arctic and participants must be adequately equipped.

Although weight and volume are a consideration in packing for any Brooks Range trip, you will be amazed at how gourmet our meals are in such a remote environment. Known for our moveable wilderness gourmet feasts, international camp cookery will fill the whetted appetite. See Meals.

James Henry River Journeys will have a complete first-aid kit and carries a SAT phone for emergencies.

Good health and good physical condition are prerequisites for this trip. Participants will be sent a medical history questionnaire to be signed by you and to be signed by your physician if you are 65 or older or have a medical condition that would require an examination and approval by your doctor prior to your departure. People who are not in good health or have serious chronic pre-existing medical conditions, could potentially create unfortunate situations by being present and are not encouraged to join this type of journey. When in doubt about one's ability, please consult with our office; if in doubt about your medical condition, please consult with your primary-care physician before signing up.

See Medical and Health details.

We provide all river rafting equipment (life jackets, paddles,dry bags, first aid), and commissary. See What Equipment JHRJ Provides and what kind of boats are utilized.

Wool clothing/and or fleece garments, completely waterproof raingear, good hiking boots and above the calf rubber boots are necessary for a truly enjoyable experience. Tents, sleeping bags, pads, rain gear, rubber boots, and day packs are to be provided by participants. We have Northface VE-25's available on a rental basis to trip participants.

arctic_blueberries_arctic_national_wildlife_refuge_hula_hula_riverThe location of the ANWR offers the visual aesthete one of the most remarkable photographic experiences in the world. During the course of our journey, there will be no shortage of available light. Light may be polarized at midday and shadows are of surrealistic length. The light has a glassy, dilute quality that bathes the land in a palette of soft pastels. Objects on the landscape are being continually sidelit and backlit, creating rich three-dimensional shapes. Shifting cloud patterns and clouds roll by, creating dramatic lighting effects.

The possibilities of ground level photography are without equal; blueberries, cranberries, dwarf birch, reindeer lichen, and the endless array of multi-hued rocks resplendent with circular lichens of orange and blue hues. If we are fortunate, we will have the opportunity to stalk Dall sheep and caribou. We might also get the opportunity to see and photograph Barren Land Grizzly, Arctic foxes, musk oxen, and perhaps a wolf.


Arctic Grayling Fishing_Canning River_Arctic national wildlife refuge
Fishing is very good at this time of year for Grayling and Arctic Char.
Licenses are required.
(See Pre-departure supplement furnished upon enrollment).

(See Cancellations-Terms and Conditions)

(See Insurance-Terms and Conditions)

©2011. All Rights Reserved. Revised. March, 2022.
James Henry River Journeys.
Photos by ©Tom Meckfessel: Clavey Paddlesports

To read more about our Special-Interest Trips on this river, go to
Marsh Fork of the Canning Special Trips.

Return to Marsh Fork/Canning River Trip Profile.

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