The Kongakut River

The Kongakut in Alaska begins in the Davidson Mountains of the Brooks Range in the northeastern corner of the state, near the border with Yukon Territory in Canada.

It flows generally northeast to the Beaufort Sea. ‘Kongakut’ comes from the Inupiaq name for the river, meaning roughly “deer pond”.

The Kongakut was not an easy river to paddle – it’s fast moving with multiple braided channels. In places the drop-off can be quite steep but the 15 kilometre canyon was mostly canoeable and offered spectacular scenery. There were some significant challenges where lining and portages were unavoidable.

We were not able to reach the ocean and our pick up point was some 60 kilometres above it. Below that point, the river goes into shallow splits with barely enough water to float a canoe. However despite all the problems, the river was a splendid run with plenty of game, spectacular fishing, and high mountain scenery. Here are two accounts of the Kongakut adventure from Tim Kotcheff and John Macfarlane.


Challenging the Kongakut by Tim Kotcheff

Every Spring, the canoe team would begin the process of selecting and charting the next river trip. It was never a matter of if, only where and when. Such was the dedication of the group to squeeze in as many new northern adventures as humanly possible. In 1986, we decided to tackle the formidable Kongakut River in Alaska….More.


Preparations for the Kongakut by John Macfarlane

The following are letters from Craig Oliver to members of the Arctic & Rideau Canal Canoe Club in the Spring of 1986 about the decision to paddle the Kongakut River in Alaska. This trip could be one of the great adventures we have had. A number of problems have been dealt with as follows…More.

On the Kongakut River – 1986

Group Kongakut

L-R: John Gow, John Godfrey, Craig Oliver, Peter Stollery, John Macfarlane, Tim Kotcheff.

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