Nigu/Etivluk Rivers

Best times to be there: mid June through first of July, first two weeks of Aug.

The very remote and wild Nigu River originates high in the
peaks of the northwest corner of Gates of the Arctic
National Park and flows northwest to the Etivluk River
before their waters spill into the mighty Colville River,
the major artery of Alaska’s Petroleum Reserve, the
largest single block of undeveloped land in the US.
The open treeless valleys of these remote rivers serve
as migration corridors for the 350,000 strong Western
Arctic Caribou herd, just as they did for the early hunters and traders, the inuits and Athabascans
of the western Brooks Range, over 1,000 years ago. Evidence of these semi-nomadic people
can be seen in remains of pit houses, ridge top cairns and inukshuks along the river’s courses.
Arctic grizzlies are abundant here as are arctic wolves, migrating birds and circumpolar raptors. But as most of Alaska’s Arctic
it is the Caribou that define this vast wilderness,sometimes seen in herds as far as the eye can see
while other times appearing to vanish altogether. But signs of their sheer numbers are written in the
crisscrossing trails that cover the open ridges and the antlers that dot the tundra. This is clearly the
land of the caribou and a wilderness about as far from the hustle and bustle of civilization as you can
get. This trip can begin along the upper reaches of the Nigu River, near the continental divide of the
western Brooks Range, after bush plane flights to the river. You can take 10 or 11 days to float, hike and explore the many valleys, peaks and ridges of the Nigu and Etivluk Rivers before joining the Colville River where you can once again board planes for flights back to Fairbanks. Pick up points can also be arranged from gravel bars along most of the Etivluk. It’s about 95 miles to the Colville from the upper Nigu. Fishing is excellent for grayling and wildlife viewing and bird watching opportunities abound.