Killik River – Arctic Pass Rafting/Backpacking


River basinJoin us on this feast for the senses as we trek our way from the southern side of the Brooks Range into the headwaters of the magnificent Killik River Basin. To get a really comprehensive understanding of a river, what better way than to walk the headwaters that birth it, and then let it carry you in its embrace.

The “U” shaped valleys of the upper reaches of the river show in a dramatic way the power of the glaciers that shaped this land. We will see dall sheep on the sides of mountains, and we’ve been fortunate enough to observe wolves on many occasions. Small groups of caribou should be moving through as they begin to sense the coming migration. Alaska’s Killik River is one of Alaska’s most endearing rivers, and with good reason! The rafting on our trip originates at Easter Creek, a tributary of the Killik River. The headwaters of this classic U-shaped river valley are surrounded by dramatic 6,000 to 7,000 foot peaks and have deep blue lakes, sand dunes, large lateral moraines, and rolling alpine tundra.

mother and calf mooseWe will take advantage of this excellent area for day hiking as we look for Dall sheep. Leaving the mountains we enter the Arctic Slope, and an entirely different world unfolds. We are in the home range of the Western Arctic caribou herd, moose, grizzly bear, and it isn’t uncommon to see wolves.

The river flows rapidly with easy but fun rapids. Below the rapids, fossils are evident in rock outcroppings. The river offers excellent fishing for arctic char, arctic grayling, and northern pike as we float northward to our rafting take-out. After traveling the river for 105 miles in 10 days, our float ends at the confluence of the Killik and Colville Rivers where we’ll await pickup by floatplane.River rafting