TRIP DATES & COST:
AUGUST 7 - 16, 2023
AUGUST 28 - SEPT. 7, 2023
CANCELLATION - SPOTS AVAILABLE
REDUCED - $6500/per person
Rates are per person, based on double occupancy.
Please inquire about single bookings.
In much of the US, August marks the peak of summer, and the sweltering temperatures that accompany it. But August in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a different story. Summer is compressed into the space of only a couple of months, and by August, the transition into late summer and early fall is apparent. The reds and golds of fall are just beginning to appear in the tundra, and the 24-hour daylight is ever so slowly giving way to brief periods of darkness.
The plants and animals sense the coming change, and make preparations for what is to come. In the mountain valleys, purple carpets of fireweed give way to the cottony seeds that ensure next season’s blooms. Out on the tundra, after an intense summer of nesting and molting, waterfowl and shorebirds feed ravenously, consuming the calories that will carry them to far off wintering territories. And in the Ivishak River, the changing of the season is marked by the appearance of migrating Dolly Varden (a species of char), arrived from their overwintering grounds in the Sagavanirktok (Sag) River to spawn.
Our trip will begin with a flight by bush plane to the upper Ivishak, where we’ll be dropped off on a bench by the river. After a day there readying equipment and exploring, we’ll begin our journey down the river. The pace will be comfortable, allowing plenty of time for side trips away from the river, photography, and wildlife viewing, with some layover days included to range a bit further afield. And of course, we’ll fish for some of the large Dollies that are moving up the river to their spawning grounds.
The Ivishak is home to the largest population of spawning char on Alaska’s north slope. Alaska Fish and Game estimates that between 8,000 and 26,000 char run up the Ivishak annually to to spawn before returning to the deeper waters of the Sag for the winter. Dolly Varden are a wonderful fish to pursue with a fly rod. They will aggressively hit a streamer swinging through the current, and are scrappy fighters on the end of your line. And they may be the most beautiful fish swimming in the waters of Alaska, with a rainbow of colors comprising their fall spawning regalia.
Our takeout point at the end of the trip will be near the Ivishak’s confluence with the Sag River, about 80 miles downstream of our trip began. A pre-arranged vehicle shuttle will be awaiting at the takeout. From there, we can transport you north to Deadhorse, where you can tour Prudhoe Bay and dip a toe in the Arctic Ocean before catching a flight back to Anchorage or Fairbanks. Alternatively, we can take the Dalton Highway south, back into the Brooks Range to Coldfoot, where lodging and flights to Fairbanks await.
With some swift, rocky sections, the Ivishak offers fun Class II-III whitewater. Participants should be in good physical condition. Hiking can range from easy strolls along the river to strenuous climbs, or none at all—it’s entirely up to you. Prior rafting experience is not required; all necessary safety and skills instruction will be provided at the beginning of the trip.
As with any wilderness trip in Alaska, the most important things to bring are good rain gear, good bug spray, and a good attitude, no matter how much you have to use the rain gear and bug spray.
Already have plans for 2023?
It’s not too late to lay the groundwork for your 2024 adventure! Planning well in advance means there is a better chance of finding bush flights that match up perfectly with your schedule. Give us a shout and let us know you’re interested. And remember, we offer fully customized trips too!