Koyuk River Information

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Koyuk River
Serpentine Tors 2007-013 NPS1.jpg
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in the Koyuk River Valley
Koyuk River is located in Alaska
Koyuk River
Location of the mouth of the Koyuk River in Alaska
Etymology Inuit people
Native nameKvyguk River
Country United States
State Alaska
District Nome Census Area
Physical characteristics
Sourcesmall lake 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Kuzitrin Lake
 - location Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Seward Peninsula
 - coordinates 65°25′44″N 163°13′00″W / 65.42889°N 163.21667°W / 65.42889; -163.21667 [1]
 - elevation1,526 ft (465 m) [2]
Mouth Norton Bay
 - location
 - coordinates
64°55′45″N 161°08′03″W / 64.92917°N 161.13417°W / 64.92917; -161.13417
KOYUK RIVER Latitude and Longitude:

64°55′45″N 161°08′03″W / 64.92917°N 161.13417°W / 64.92917; -161.13417
 - elevation
0 ft (0 m) [1]
Length115 mi (185 km) [1]

The Koyuk River (also spelled, Kuyuk) [3] is a river on the Seward Peninsula of western Alaska, in the United States. [1] The river originates in the interior of the peninsula, at the Lost Jim Lava Flow of the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, where it flows southeast towards the mouth of Norton Bay on Norton Sound. The native village of Koyuk is located at its mouth. The two major tributaries are the Peace and Salmon rivers; other tributaries include Dime and Sweepstakes. [4]


Its Inuit named as Tebenkof Eskimos, reported by Captain Tebenkov (1852, map 2), IRN, as Kvyguk or Kvieguk. The Western Union Telegraph Expedition spelled the name Koikpak ("big river"). The Seward map of 1867 gives Koipak, and later as Kayuk, Koyuk, and Kuyuk. The Kanguksuk is also known as the Left Fork of the Kviguk (Koyuk). The present spelling comes from Alfred Hulse Brooks', 1900 United States Geological Survey. [5] [6]


The Koyuk River, one of the largest in the Seward Peninsula, [7] [8] originates in a lake (no designated name) bounded on the north by the Bendeleben Mountains, in the upper reaches of the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, in Northwest Alaska. [9] The upper reach is also reported as being made up of flat lava fields to the north of the mountains. [10]

The 115-mile (185 km) long river flows southeast for 90 miles (140 km), then south for another 25 miles (40 km). [1] The river empties into Norton Bay, which it enters via a tidal estuary downstream of the river's confluence with the East Fork Koyuk River near the village of Koyuk. The last stretch of the river, [9] is in a southeasterly direction as it joins the bay, [10] and flows through the tundra wetland area. The catchment in the middle and upper reaches has a horse-shoe shape, and the hills surrounding the valley lie in an elevation range of 2,000 to 3,000 feet (610 to 910 m); the two prominent mountains are the Bendeleben Mountains and Domes of Granite Mountain, the latter named after the granite geological formations.

In its initial reaches, the river has steep slopes with rapids in the upper most reaches having shallow depth of flows. The river widens as it flows down with more flow additions from tributaries which join it and the width of the river attains 820 feet (250 m), with a slow moving stretch of the river recording a 5-foot (1.5 m) depth of water. [9] On both banks of the river rock exposures derived lava flows are bedded on a horizontal direction; the rockfall from these exposures has filled the river bed with boulders. [11] While the lava beds were noted in the upper region of the river and also in the valley, geological formations in the valley were mapped by Walter Curran Mendenhall, the fifth director of the US Geological Survey. He reported these formations as basalts of Pleistocene or Late Pleistocene age. [12] Gold, platinum, and radioactive minerals were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1973, as well as lode and placer claims, along a 10-mile (16 km) wide stretch of the river. [13]


The river becomes a broad estuary subject to tidal effect extending for long stretch upstream forming a flat mud- and sand-filled basin. The basin area measure approximately 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2). [14] The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is in the uppermost part of the basin. Its drainage includes southeastern Seward Peninsula through Norton Bay.


A study of the archaeological remains at the Lyatayak site, south of Cape Denbigh and south of Koyuk, indicated that the area was inhabited 6000 to 8000 years ago. [9] The recorded history of Koyuk is traced to Lieutenant L.A. Zagoskin of the Imperial Russian Navy during the 1840s. In 1865, William Wennis of the Western Union Telegraph expedition reported that the Koyuk was deserted on account of possibly the smallpox epidemic wiping out the entire population of the village and that the village had been abandoned for 13 years. The Yupik-speaking [15] Unali Eskimos and the Melemute Eskimos resettled in Koyuk during the 1860s to take advantage of caribou herding. In 1879, a trading post for furs was established at the river's mouth by the Alaska Commercial Company. [16] During the gold rush, there was intense activity in the region but hardly any gold was found though claims had been staked at many places within the Koyuk River valley. By 1900, the village had declined to the level of subsistence economy, depending on fishing and hunting caribou and moose and picking on berries. [9]


Caribou reindeer

Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (P.L 96-487) the Koyuk River is categorized as "Freshwater Aquatic Herbaceous" and is one out of 25 nominated as the National Wild and Scenic Rivers. The river and the basin draining it is rich of wild life species, which consists of five fish species, 22 mammals species and 46 bird species. [17]

The flora of the river watershed, in their descending order of distribution are: closed needleleaf forest dominating the riparian zone; closed tall shrub scrub is also part of the riparian zone, and open-air low shrub scrub with willows and grasses as dominant vegetation. The wet graminoid herbaceous habitat lies between the river riparian and higher ground. The mesic graminoid herbaceous forms the hilly tussock tundra. [17] The dominant vegetation in the valley is of tundras, except in the basin area below Knowles Creek, where it consists of tree species of willows, spruce and birch. [9]

The river is well known for its fishing resources. the fish species reported are Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), steelhead/rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Dolly Varden trout (Salvelinus malma), northern pike (Esox lucius), grayling (Thymallus thymallus), Dolly Varden trout (Salvelinus malma malma), and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). [17] [18] Some of the important mammals reported in the river basin are moose ( Alces alces), grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), black bear (Ursus americanus), caribou (Rangifer tarandus), wolves (Canis lupus), lynx, red fox, beaver, and snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). [17] [18] Some of the important bird species reported in the river watershed are: bald eagles, glaucous gulls, spruce grouse, northern flying squirrel, song birds, ravens, waterfowl, lesser golden-plover, whimbrel and Lapland longspur. [17]


There are a network of trails in the basin, prominent among these are the Koyuk River-Buckland route and the Koyuk-Kiwalik route. [3] The river is also popular for water sports such as kayaking and rafting. [18]

See also


  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: U.S. Government's Printing Office's "Bulletin of the United States Geological Survey" (1902)
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: U.S. Geological Survey's "Bulletin – United States Geological Survey" (1911)
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: U.S. Geological Survey's "Reconnaissances in the Cape Nome and Norton Bay regions, Alaska, in 1900" (1901)
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: S.S. Smith's "The mining industry in the territory of Alaska during the calendar year 1916" (1917)
  1. ^ a b c d e f "Koyuk River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. January 1, 2000. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Derived by entering source coordinates in Google Earth.
  3. ^ a b Burch, Ernest S. (2005). Alliance and Conflict: The World System of the Inũpiaq Eskimos. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 276, 296–. ISBN  978-0-8032-6238-6.
  4. ^ Smith, Sumner Stewart (1917). The mining industry in the territory of Alaska during the calendar year 1916 (Public domain ed.). Govt. Print. Off. pp. 56–. Retrieved 27 March 2013. full text
  5. ^ Bulletin of the United States Geological Survey (Public domain ed.). U.S. Government Printing Office. 1902. pp. 251–. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  6. ^ Baker, Marcus (1902). Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. U.S. Government vffice. pp. 251–.
  7. ^ Brooks, Alfred Hulse; Abbe, Cleveland; Goode, Richard Urquhart (1906). The Geography and Geology of Alaska: A Summary of Existing Knowledge. U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 93–.
  8. ^ Geological Survey (U.S.) (1911). Bulletin – United States Geological Survey (Public domain ed.). The Survey. pp. 10–. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f DeVaughn, Melissa (2011). Alaska AdventureGuide. Menasha Ridge Press. pp. 69–60. ISBN  978-0-89732-907-1.
  10. ^ a b Geological Survey Bulletin. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1913. pp. 1–.
  11. ^ Brooks, Alfred Hulse; Collier, Arthur James; Mendenhall, Walter Curran; George Burr Richardson (1901). Geological Survey (U.S.) (ed.). Reconnaissances in the Cape Nome and Norton Bay regions, Alaska, in 1900 (Public domain ed.). Government Printing Office. pp. 191, 198, 212–. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  12. ^ Geological Survey (U.S.) (1902). Professional paper – United States Geological Survey. The Survey. pp. 1–.
  13. ^ United States. Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (1980). A proposal for protection of eleven Alaskan rivers. The Service. p. 63.
  14. ^ United States. Bureau of Reclamation (1952). Alaska: A Reconnaissance Report on the Potential Development of Water Resources in the Territory of Alaska for Irrigation, Power Production, and Other Beneficial Uses. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 172.
  15. ^ Sturtevant, William C (1978). Handbook of North American Indians: Arctic. Government Printing Office. pp. 303–. ISBN  978-0-16-004580-6.
  16. ^ Bockstoce, John R. (2009). Furs and Frontiers In the Far North: The Contest Among Native and Foreign Nations for the Bering Strait Fur Trade. Yale University Press. pp. 306–. ISBN  978-0-300-15490-0.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Wildlife of the Koyuk Watershed". Bureau of Land Management, Alaska. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  18. ^ a b c "Koyuk River Hunting and Fishing...Enjoy One Of The Many Scenic Rivers in Alaska!". Alaska Fishing and Hunting Guides Directory. Retrieved 26 March 2013.