Sheenjek, Alaska, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-II (for normal flows)|
Flowing through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) the Sheenjek flows 200-miles south to the Porcupine River which then continues on to the Yukon. This federally-designated Wild and Scenic River offers an opportunity for a scenic journey through the Brooks Range with open tundra and boreal forest that make up one of Alaska's most spectacular wilderness areas. Portions of the Porcupine Caribou Herd occasionally winter in the Sheenjek Valley. You will find great hiking in the upper regions of the river and quality camping along the river. The best time for this trip is July through mid-September. Beware of ice hazards that can block safe passage in sections through early summer in some years.
Margaret and Olaus Murie were the first to complete a scientific study of this region in 1956. From their work came the fight to have the area set aside as a refuge and preserve, that eventually resulted in the creation of the refuge in 1964. Her account of these early days at Lobo and Last Lake along the upper reaches of the Sheenjek Valley are recounted in her book, Two in the Far North.
Take a bush plane flight from Arctic Village (the closest town that you can fly into on a commercial flight) to your put-in on the southern slopes of the Romanzof Mountains and access at Last Lake (Ambrevajun Lake), Lobo Lake (Kuirzinjik Lake) or various upper river gravel bars. Arrange for pick-up at a gravel bar down river or take-out at Fort Yukon where the Porcupine River joins the Yukon River.
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