John River (Alaska)

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John River
John River.jpg
John River near Bettles
Country United States
State Alaska
Districts North Slope Borough, Yukon–Koyukuk Census Area
Source confluence of Contact and Inukpasugruk creeks
 - location Endicott Mountains, Brooks Range, North Slope Borough
 - elevation 2,076 ft (633 m) [1]
 - coordinates 68°07′34″N 151°45′23″W / 68.12611°N 151.75639°W / 68.12611; -151.75639 [2]
Mouth Koyukuk River [3]
 - location 1 mile (2 km) northeast of Bettles, Yukon–Koyukuk Census Area
 - elevation 600 ft (183 m) [2]
 - coordinates 66°54′49″N 151°39′13″W / 66.91361°N 151.65361°W / 66.91361; -151.65361Coordinates: 66°54′49″N 151°39′13″W / 66.91361°N 151.65361°W / 66.91361; -151.65361 [2]
Length 125 mi (201 km) [3]
John River (Alaska) is located in Alaska
John River (Alaska)
Location of the mouth of the John River in Alaska
Type Wild
Designated December 2, 1980
John River leads here. For Canadian rapper John River, see John River (rapper)

The John River is a 125-mile (201 km) tributary of the Koyukuk River in the northern part of the U.S. state of Alaska.[3] It was named after John Bremner, a prospector and explorer who was one of the first non-native persons to go there.[3] It flows south from Anaktuvuk Pass in Alaska's Brooks Range, into the larger river at a point near Bettles,[3] slightly north of the Arctic Circle.[4]

In 1980, the 52-mile (84 km) segment of the John River within the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve were designated "wild" and added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.[5] The designation means that the segment is unpolluted, free-flowing, and generally inaccessible except by trail.[6]

The John River Valley is an important migration route for Arctic caribou.[5]


It is possible to run the John River in canoes, kayaks, and small rafts, though conditions vary from place to place. The upper 35 miles (56 km) are rated Class III (difficult) on the International Scale of River Difficulty and "should be attempted only by experienced paddlers with solid wilderness skills."[7] Below this, the river is rated Class II (medium) for the next 47 miles (76 km), then Class I on the lower reaches all the way to the mouth. Dangers on the upper river include sustained whitewater, swift currents, a difficult 4-mile (6 km) portage, and the possibility of water too shallow to run.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Derived by entering source coordinates in Google Earth.
  2. ^ a b c "John River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. January 1, 2000. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Orth, Donald J.; United States Geological Survey (1971) [1967]. Dictionary of Alaska Place Names: Geological Survey Professional Paper 567 (PDF). University of Alaska Fairbanks. United States Government Printing Office. p. 475. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ Alaska Atlas & Gazetteer (7th ed.). Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. 2010. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-89933-289-5. 
  5. ^ a b "John River, Alaska". National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  6. ^ "About the WSR Act". National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Jettmar, Karen (2008) [1993]. The Alaska River Guide: Canoeing, Kayaking, and Rafting in the Last Frontier (3rd ed.). Birmingham, Alabama: Menasha Ridge Press. pp. 118–19. ISBN 978-0-89732-957-6. 

External links[edit]