Colville River is formed by Thunder and Storm Creeks in the De Long Mountains of the Brooks Range and flows east-northeast for 350 miles (565 km) to Harrison Bay in the Beaufort Sea, about 52 miles (84 km) west-northwest of Deadhorse and 18 miles (29 km) north-northwest of Nuiqsut, Alaska. The river was named in 1837 by Peter Warren Dease and Thomas Simpson for Andrew Colvile of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Iñupiat name for the lower river is “Kupik” meaning “big river” which is the origin of the name Kupigruak Channel.
The triangular river delta includes 34 major distributary channels and measures about 20 x 23 x 26 miles (32 by 37 by 42 km). The largest distributary is the Nechalic Channel, which flows through the community of Nuiqsut. The river valley contains developed and undeveloped petroleum and natural gas deposits. In 2015, construction was completed by ConocoPhillips on a bridge spanning the Colville River north of Nuiqsut. The bridge provides access to petroleum resources further west in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.
Fishing is an important activity for Nuiqsut residents due to its proximity to the Colville River with its large resident fish populations. The river supports 20 species of fish and approximately half of these are taken by Nuiqsut residents primarily during the summer and fall. Broad whitefish is the primary species harvested during the summer and is the only anadromous species harvested in July. All five species of Pacific salmon have been reported in the Colville River. The Kupigruak Channel is the most important fall fishing area with the arctic and least cisco comprising most of the fish caught. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kupigruak Channel here: