The Tinayguk River starts as a trickle high up in the Endicott Mountains and is the longest tributary of the North Fork of the Koyukuk River, which both lie entirely within the pristine wilderness of Gates of the Arctic National Park. Like the North Fork, the Tinayguk presents spectacular, glacially carved valleys bordered by rugged mountains; however, unlike the North Fork, the Tinayguk is relatively difficult to access, providing for a remarkable wilderness experience. The scenic qualities are tremendous, with many opportunities for hiking and backpacking. Access is difficult; most floaters hike in from Anaktuvuk Pass or the North Fork of the Koyukuk with packrafts.
December 2, 1980. The segment within Gates of the Arctic National Park.
Unlike some other rivers in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, the Tinayguk has no adjacent areas suitable for landing a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft; therefore, the only way to access it is on foot. The Tinayguk’s location and navigable passes provide exceptional opportunities for backpacking and hiking between the John River, North Fork Koyukuk River, and Tinayguk drainages. In some areas, readily available game trails allow for marginally easier hiking and heightened accessibility.
Relatively shallow water, significant braiding, and narrow sections often require rafters to walk or “line” portions of the river, providing a physically demanding floating experience. Many sections of the river exhibit Class II rapids with riffles, rock rapids, and bends containing large boulders, requiring relatively more physical maneuvering from the rafter.
Visiting this river is truly a wilderness experience, and it likely one won't encounter anyone else the entire visit.