North Fork of the Koyukuk River

Loading the inflatable boat on the North Fork of the Koyukuk River.
Loading the boat, North Fork of the Koyukuk River

NPS Photograph Teri McMillan

The North Fork of the Koyukuk flows from the south flank on the Arctic Divide through broad, glacially carved valleys in the rugged Endicott Mountains of the Central Brooks Range. It passes between Boreal Mountain and Frigid Crags dubbed the "Gates to the Arctic" by Bob Marshall. The North Fork joins the Middle Fork and can be run all the way to Bettles Field.


Approximate Length

102 mi / 164 km

Scenic Quality

Beautiful Glacial valleys bordered by rugged peaks of Endicott Mountains in central Brooks Range.

Recreational Opportunities

The river can be accessed in the headwaters area. There are a few challenging rapids depending on water levels. The river is mostly class two or less. There is outstanding wilderness backpacking in the upper reaches of the drainage.

Geologic Features

South flank of the arctic Continental Divide; broad glacial valleys bordered by Endicott Mountains

Natural Resources

Variety of wildlife; major caribou migration route

Cultural Resources

This drainage contains one of the densest concentrations of archaeological and historical sites in the park. These sites include gold mining sites from the early 20th century and prehistoric sites dating to as old as 10,000 years.

Location map of the North Fork of the Koyukuk River

NPS Image

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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Suite 110

Fairbanks, AK 99701



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