Bureau of Land Management Fairbanks District Office Fairbanks, AK 99709
Most floaters launch from the access in the Nome Creek Valley near the Ophir Creek Campground. To get there, drive northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska on the Steese Highway. Turn left onto the U.S. Creek Road at mile 57, continue for seven miles to the Nome Creek Road. Taking a left at the junction, it is 12 miles to lower Nome Creek, the Ophir Creek Campground, and the put-in for floating Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River.
Those folks seeking true adventure can find it floating Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River.
Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River is a Class I, clear water river, with only a few short sections of class II water that flows past jagged limestone peaks in the White Mountains National Recreation Area and through the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge before joining the Yukon River. Totaling more than 360 river miles, it may be the longest road-to-road float in North America.
Beaver Creek runs through a remote area of interior Alaska. Most floaters begin in the Nome Creek valley, near the Ophir Creek Campground. If launching here, take note: boat motors are limited to 15 horsepower or less. Once you put in at Nome Creek, there are no roads or services until you reach the bridge on the Dalton Highway. It usually takes six days to reach the mouth of Victoria Creek at river mile 111. Many floaters pre-arrange for a Fairbanks air-taxi service to pick them up from a gravel bar a few miles past Victoria Creek. If you continue down Beaver Creek and the Yukon River to the Dalton Highway bridge, you should plan for up to two additional weeks of travel.
Many gravel bars along the river provide great camping. Also the Borealis-LeFevre Cabin at river mile 32 is also available by reservation (check the link below for more information about cabin rentals). Use dead and down wood for campfires and pack out any trash. The BLM supports Leave No Trace camping techniques., so please remove any trace of your camp, such as fire rings, and scatter any firewood piles.
Wind, rain, and freezing temperatures have weathered away the surrounding rock to expose the jagged cliffs and peaks seen along Beaver Creek. These high ridges are home to Dall sheep and peregrine falcons. Along the creeks, the gravel soils support tall white spruce trees and dense brush that line the banks. Eagles, peregrine falcon, and owls hunt the river corridor. Migratory waterfowl, such as mergansers, shovelheads, goldeneyes, and harlequins spend the summers along Beaver Creek. Known for its large dorsal fin, the Arctic grayling is the predominant fish species in the White Mountains. Other types of fish include northern pike, sheefish, burbot, and salmon.
Monitoring River Levels
A stream gauge on Nome Creek near by Ophir Creek Campground provides useful information for monitoring Beaver Creek floating conditions. Using GOES satellite telemetry, water stage, water temperature, air temperature, and cumulative precipitation are recorded at 15-minute intervals. Current observations are available on the National Weather Service’s Hydrometeorological Automated Data System (HADS) website (https://hads.ncep.noaa.gov/charts/AK.shtml).
To view the data, find station NOCA2 (Nome Creek above Beaver Creek) in the list, select a time interval, and press “Decoded Data” to view the tables and graphs of observations.
For those interested in floating Beaver Creek, look at the River Height (HG) data for current river stage conditions. Stage of less than 2 feet is very low flow, meaning difficult floating, especially for rafts. Stage of 2.5 feet is moderate flow -- good float conditions. Stage of 2.75 to 3 feet or above is considered high water; be prepared for fast current, floating logs, flooded campsites, and potentially dangerous conditions.
Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River also offers many winter activities for those wanting a primitive backcountry experience. Snowmobiling, dog mushing, trapping, and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities along the frozen river, which can be reached via the White Mountain National Recreation Area’s 240-mile network of groomed winter trails and public use cabins.