• Image of mountains and river

    Gates Of The Arctic

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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  • Emergency Sheep Hunting Closure in Units 23 & 26(A)

    All sheep seasons in Game Management Units 23 and 26(A) for all resident and nonresident hunters are closed due to severe decline in sheep numbers in the contiguous populations of the De Long and Schwatka Mountains. More »

John River

John River location map.
NPS Image
Smoky John River vista.

NPS Photograph

The John River flows south from Anaktuvuk Pass through Alaska's Brooks Range to the Koyukuk River just below Bettles Field/Evansville. The river runs through beautiful areas and a variety of ecosystems.


Approximate Length

52 mi / 84 km

Scenic Quality

Outstanding; the John flows through a variety of ecosytems and vegetation types. The river winds through exposed rock, cliffs, and outcroppings.

Recreational Opportunities

The upper portions of the river provide a class 2 to class 3+ float when water is high enough. The lower reaches make an excellent family float. There is excellent hiking and backpacking in upper river area though intially the river runs through Nunamiut Corporation land.

Geologic Features

The river flows through wide glacial valleys dissecting central Brooks Range. It is lined with interesting bluffs in the lower reaches.

Natural Resources

Variety of large and small mammals; important migration route for arctic caribou herd; unique habitat for William's milk vetch.

Cultural Resources

The numerous cultural sites in the John River drainage reflect a long and continuous history of use by residents of Anaktuvuk Pass.

Did You Know?

A caribou standing in the snow.

Three caribou herds migrate through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in the Spring and Fall.