The Nigu River has rich anthropological history, mountains, wide valleys, rolling hills, opportunities to view many different birds, caribou, bear, wolves, musk oxen and maybe a wolverine. The Nigu River is a true Gem.
We start our raft trip in the Brooks Range Mountains near the Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Noatak National Preserve where the once nomadic nunamiut people traveled across the land hunting and foraging. Between the still obvious caribou fences once used to funnel the caribou into lakes for easier hunting, earthen homes they camped in, you get a sense of what life may have been like. Rafting out of the mountains and traveling through the rolling tundra we eventually come to the confluence of the Etivlic River and then the Colville River where we finish our trip. Arctic River Guides takes you to the Nigu River to experience the rich history and serene beauty of this incredible place.
The Killik, Nigu, and Etivluk Rivers, tributaries of the Colville River, are major north slope valleys within the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Noatak National Preserve. Flowing northward from the crest of the Brooks Range, these valleys serve as migration corridors for caribou of the Western Arctic herd. For thousands of years these valleys were also important hunting and trade routes for prehistoric hunters following the caribou.
Up until the recent past, Inuit and Athabascan people lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle along these Arctic rivers. They subsisted mainly on the caribou but also made use of all available food supplies: plant, animal and fish. We’ll see signs of their enduring history, scattered chert chips from tool making and remnants of house pits. Though the ancient hunters have long since come and gone, the land lies basically untamed and unchanged.
These rivers lie within a vast wilderness, a place where the trails are made by wildlife: caribou, bear, moose and wolf. Where yellow billed loons, shyest of the loon family, nest along undeveloped shorelines and arctic breezes catspaw across crystal clear lakes. But it is the caribou especially that defines this country. The Western Arctic Caribou herd numbers over 450,000 animals; it is the constant ebb and flow of their numbers over the landscape that brings life to this arctic landscape.
Your group can fly in by wheeled bush plane, crossing the mountains of the Brooks Range and landing on one of the many gravel bars where we’ll begin our Arctic adventure. Using inflatable kayaks, canoes or rafts, you’ll move camp down the river adapting your schedule to the weather, scenery, wildlife and hiking potential. Some folks may want to cast a fly or spinner and try to land an arctic grayling or lake trout which inhabit these waters.
Previous paddling experience is not necessary; With long daylight hours and unlimited hiking on the open terrain, we have the opportunity to explore much of these river valleys from their mountainous headwaters to their confluence with the Colville River.