Date : NOV 3 1976
From : David Dapkus
Subject: Field Inspection of Beaver Creek, August 3-11, 1976
Beaver Creek was one of 20 Alaskan rivers recommended as additions to the
National Wild and Scenic Rivers System by the Secretary of the Interior in
December of 1973. BOR had studied Beaver Creek including conducting a inter-.
agency field inspection in 1972-73. The proposed land managing agency, Bureau of
Land Management is presently updating the resource data on the river. Staff of
the Fairbanks District Office (BLM) requested that BOR participate in a field
inspection of the river as part of the effort to update existing resource data.
Participating in the inspection were:
Dave Scott, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
Elliott Lowe, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
Clyde Murray, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
Bruce Durtsche, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
LaRalle Smith, BLM, State Office, Anchorage
David Dapkus, BOR, Alaska Field Office, Anchorage
Three 17 foot canoes were used for the field inspection.
I flew to Fairbanks via Wien in the late afternoon in order to be available for
the next morning’s early flight via helicopter into Beaver Creek.
NOTE: These reports may not
contain important information about: 1) safety, 2) land management and
ownership, 3) fishing and other regulations and 4) possible errors >
Flew in to the confluence of Ophir Creek with Nome Creek starting at 7 a.m., on
a sunny, hot day via a Bell 206B helicopter. The canoes had been flown in two
days earlier. On the flight in we saw ATV/4 wheel drive tracks/ trail along
Ophir Creek. The put-in spot is within the proposed wild river boundary.
A large cabin, apparently built in 1975-76. It is located at the put-in and
apparently is a miner’s cabin although the only visible mining equipment was a
pick. A track vehicle was setting near the cabin.
We floated to O'Brien Creek on the Beaver from Ophir Creek a distance of about
10 miles. Ophir Creek was 10'-15' wide and was too rocky and shallow to float.
Nome Creek was a series of 1"-4" riffles connecting 1'-2' deep pools; it varied
from 25'-50' in width, clear, flowing at 2 mph over a rocky channel with fist to
basketball size rocks. Although-it was so shallow in some riffles that we needed
to pull the canoes across them, Nome Creek is generally floatable from Ophir
Creek. Beaver Creek was also a series of pools (1'-4') and riffles (1"-6"),
40'-60' wide, clear, and flowing at 2 mph over a rocky channel. Beaver Creek had
some sweepers and boulders, but it and Nome Creek offered good Class I water on
the International Whitewater Scale.
The Beaver flows through a dense mixed white spruce-paper birch forest with
willows near the water and tundra on the high slopes of the White Mountains.
Forested two thousand foot high rolling hills surround Beaver Creek with the
White Mountains rising 3,000'-4,000’ on the north and east of Beaver Creek. The
White Mountains with their limestone peaks were almost always in view. The thick
forested area and the clear waters of Beaver Creek combine with the White
Mountains to create a beautiful scene for a float trip. Good campsites are
plentiful on gravel bars or on the forest edge. There were recently made ATV
tracks on the gravel bar at camp. Some garbage, a fire pit, and cut wood were
evidence of previous campers at O'Brien Creek.
We saw a black bear on the banks of Beaver Greek just below the confluence of
Nome Creek, several ducks, and moose sign on the gravel bars. Grayling fishing
was excellent, we caught several averaging about 12".
Floated 14 miles today to an old cabin about three miles below Brigham Creek.
The river continued to be a series of long pools (2' -6’) deep and riffles
(1"-12") deep, but widened to 75' and picked up speed (3-5 mph). It continued to
flow through a rocky channel of mainly fist size rocks and some small boulders.
There were some sweepers, which with the river making several tight bends, kept
us alert. We scraped the canoe bottom only a few times and did not have to pull
them through any riffles. Good campsites continued to be plentiful and the
scenery pleasing. We did not see any more ATV tracks, however we did check out
three old fallen down cabins located along the riverbanks. Saw two beaver and
many dams/lodges, ducks, moose and bear sign, and fresh wolf tracks. The day was
warm and sunny.
The river continued to be clear pools (5'-15') and riffles (4"-8") as we covered
about 14 miles to camp about four miles beyond the "Big Bend." We scraped the
canoe bottom very little The river was 25'-75' wide, flowing at 3-4 mph and
continued to. be clear. A few tight turns, sweepers, and occasional large rocks
required some maneuvering.
Scenery at the "Big Bend" -Beaver Creek makes a 90o bend from west to north
around the White Mountains -was superb. Hiking opportunities are excellent along
the river in this area. Stopped at the BLM public use cabin at Wickersham Creek;
it had been cleaned and repaired by YCC youth the previous week. Several groups
had hiked in the Wickersham Dome trail to the cabin this summer. We also
inspected a Native allotment on the north side of Beaver Creek in the "Big
Bend." There were no signs of use just a sign identifying the allotment. We saw
one-cow moose, four broods of ducks, four eagles, and three peregrine falcons.
Grayling fishing continued to be great.
Floated about 15 miles to camp near Windy Creek. Beaver Creek slowed to 2 mph
flowing mostly through 3'-12' deep pools was 40' -100' wide and clear, with no
hazards other than an occasional sweeper. Looked at a well maintained log cabin
built around 1964, which lies on the west bank near Fossil Creek. There is a
good grass airstrip next to the cabin that is semi-blocked from the river by
spruce trees. Rock outcroppings rise occasionally from the rivers edge in this
section of the river adding-to the scenery.
Floated from Windy Creek to near Willow Creek, about 25 miles through a steady
rain. The river was clear, 100' wide, 3'-15' deep except for a few riffles, and
had a current of 3 mph. Although Beaver Creek pulls away from the White
Mountains to parallel them at a 3-4 mile distance, the view from the
river-continued to be excellent of the White Mountains, paralleling forested
hills, and rock outcroppings at the rivers edge. We saw geese, ducks, beaver,
and enjoyed more excellent grayling fishing. Also found wolf, bear, lynx, and
It rained from noon through the rest of the day.
Rained all day as we floated about 16 miles to camp near Yellow Creek. River
flowed 3 mph through a 100' rocky channel at depths of 3'-15". There were a few
sweepers and small log pileups, but could be readily avoided.
We enjoyed views of Victoria Mountain on the west and the White Mountains on the
east all day. The river cuts sheer 75' high rock cliffs in many places as it
skirts Victoria Mountain. Passed two gravel bars, which were estimated to be
large enough for a small wheeled plane to land. Neither appears to have been
used as landing strips however. Saw one grizzly bear, beaver, seven Dall sheep
(Victoria Mt.), ducks and geese. Also saw one king salmon and caught enough
grayling for supper.
Floated from Yellow Creek to a point about 12 miles below Victoria Creek (total
of 18 miles for the day). Beaver Creek continued to flow about three mph,
averaged 100' wide, was clear, and varied from 3'-10' in depth. Victoria Creek
was roaring and slightly dirty. It is 20' wide and 2'-5' deep.
There are two cabins in use on the east bank of Beaver Creek at Victoria Creek
confluence. We talked with the owner’s son who was there alone while his parents
were in Fairbanks. They trap along Beaver Creek and do some guiding. Scenery was
excellent until we got several miles passed Victoria Creek where it was pleasing
but without the sheer rock cliffs and the close mountains were not as grand as
before. We saw a black bear sow with two cubs about two miles below Victoria
Creek. Grayling fishing continued to be excellent. Although this section of
Beaver Creek is supposed to be good Northern pike fishing we did not catch any
pike to prove it. Some of the straight and deeper stretches of the river below
Victoria Creek could possibly be suitable for small float plane landings,
however we do not know if such landings have occurred in the past.
Picked up by helicopter at 9:30 a.m. and returned to Fairbanks. Flew via Wien to
Anchorage arriving at Anchorage at 1 p.m.
We covered about 120 miles of Beaver Creek in 6 ˝ easy days. It offered a good
float trip for the novice canoeist as it is continuous Class I water with
sweepers, particularly in the upper section, being the main hazard. There are no
rapids. It’s scenery, grayling fishery and recreational opportunities are three
of its outstanding features.
Complete river log
Creek [1270 kb]
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