A Guide to Floating Beaver Creek

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(David Spencer, USFWS)

Quick facts:

  • Road-accessible put-in (most floaters use aircraft for the take-out)
  • Class I River
  • Designated Wild River under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
  • Co-managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Distance – 288 river miles from Nome Creek put-in to Yukon River
  • Watercraft: suitable for many types of watercraft, from hard-sided canoes, to pack rafts, to catarafts

Beginning as a swift, shallow stream surrounded by rolling hills, Beaver Creek flows past the jagged limestone peaks of the White Mountains before slowing to a sluggish meander as it passes through the Yukon Flats. Beaver Creek is the Refuge’s only designated Wild River. Despite its accessibility by road, Beaver Creek can still be enjoyed by those seeking a true wilderness experience filled with solitude, beauty, and adventure. Anglers can fish for arctic grayling and, in the lower stretches of the river, northern pike, sheefish, and whitefish. Hunters and wildlife viewers may enjoy opportunities to spot moose, bears, caribou, and other animals on the virtually undisturbed river banks. Whether floating only the designated Wild portion of Beaver Creek or continuing to the Yukon River Bridge, the river’s clear waters provide a unique opportunity to experience the Alaskan interior.

The most popular way to begin a float down Beaver Creek is via Nome Creek, which is accessible north of Fairbanks from the Steese Highway and U.S. Creek Road. At mile 57 on the Steese Highway, take US Creek Road for 7 miles before turning left onto Nome Creek Road. After approximately 12 miles, a Bureau of Land Management campground marks a small boat access point to Nome Creek. One to two days of navigating 2.5 miles of Nome Creek’s narrow, twisting channel is rewarded with a leisurely float beginning where Nome Creek joins Beaver Creek at mile 6.

The first 20 miles of Beaver Creek average 1 to 3 feet in depth, flowing over a gravel stream bed averaging 50 feet wide. Mile 20 through 100 of Beaver Creek treats recreators to a widening channel, varying from 75 to 150 feet wide with depths averaging 2 to 4 feet. There are many exposed gravel bars and, at several locations, Beaver Creek splits into two main channels that flow separately for up to a mile. The River’s designated Wild portion concludes at river mile 127, and the last twenty miles of Wild River are characterized by a reduction in gradient and a deepening and widening of the channel.

In full, Beaver Creek is just over 300 miles long, although only the first 127 miles are designated Wild. Most parties travel an average of 10 to 15 miles per day, requiring 7 to 10 days to float the designated Wild River portion. There is no road access near the end of the Wild River segment, so the only take-out option is by aircraft. A pick-up can be arranged with air services in Fairbanks. Usually a long gravel bar near the confluence with Victoria Creek is used for a take-out, making the total float approximately 110 miles long.

The Bureau of Land Management maintains several public-use cabins along the Wild River portion of Beaver Creek, which can be reserved on their website.

Beyond mile 127, Beaver Creek continues another 164 miles through the Yukon Flats Refuge before emptying into the Yukon River. Boaters seeking a longer trip can continue an additional 8 to 14 days (268 river miles) to the Dalton Highway at the Yukon River Bridge.

For more information or help planning your trip, contact us and/or download the Bureau of Land Management's Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River Brochure.

Remember to follow the Leave No Trace best practices when enjoying recreational opportunities on public lands.