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rafting the Yukon’s Firth River

Fleeting Arctic summers open brief windows for rafting the Yukon’s Firth River.
Photograph by Michael Melford

Firth River, Yukon

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With round-the-clock light “so thick you could lick it off your fingers” and “low green hills that bulge like muscles out of the tundra,” Canada’s Ivvavik National Park beckons travelers keen to spot Arctic wildlife.

Writer Jeff Rennicke, a former rafting guide, and photographer Michael Melford joined a guided raft trip in July 1998. They dreamed of seeing one of the grandest wildlife spectacles on Earth: the migration of the caribou.

arctic char

A Mus Creek angler brandishes a brilliant 8-pound (3.6 kilograms) arctic char.
Photograph by Michael Melford

Each ride down the icy Firth River and each hike in the wee hours offers another chance of seeing the great heards. But the wilderness is so big it can hide 129,000 caribou from you—and so beautiful you might not even miss them.

nationalgeographic.com nationalgeographic.com ngtraveler