Region 4 (east)

Whitewater Classification

Class I-II

Known Hazards

Braided and shallow with sharp rocks above Ulaneak Creek. Some braiding throughout the drainage.

Fish Species

Char, grayling, sheefish

Game Species

Brown/grizzly bear, caribou, moose


Wheel plane access on upper river gravel bars. Air charter from Ambler, Bettles, Fairbanks or Kotzebue.

Land Managers

State of Alaska, NANA Corp.

Additional Resources

Alaska Fishing, by Gunnar Pedersen and Rene Limeres
Alaska River Guide, by Karen Jettmar
Float Hunting Alaska's Wild Rivers, by Michael Strahan


Rising from the Schwatka Mountains of the Brooks Range at Nakmaktuak Pass, the Ambler River flows in a southwesterly direction for 80 miles to its confluence with the Kobuk River. Small and clear, the Ambler is a single channel for the first 15 miles from the confluence of two headwater forks, with many small rapids flowing over sharp rocks. The river passes through a narrow, constricted valley with steep mountains on the right bank. In its midsection, the forested valley broadens and the river is shallow and braided for about 35 miles before becoming a single channel once again a mile above Lake Anirak. From this point, the Ambler meanders 30 miles through a broad floodplain to its confluence with the Kobuk at the Eskimo village of Ambler. The Ambler flows almost entirely through a forested region.

Campsite selection is generally good, with large gravel bars backed by tall willow and other vegetation to block the wind. 

The Ambler is a popular river among both fishermen and hunters, and hosts subsistence activities of people coming upriver from the community of Ambler. The river offers grayling and char fishing, along with sheefish. 

The area is also home to brown / grizzly bear, black bear, moose, caribou, wolf and other indigeneous wildlife species.