Gates of the Arctic National Park, Arctic Alaska

Located entirely north of the Arctic Circle, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is a vast wilderness area the size of Switzerland that straddles the Arctic Divide in the Brooks Range, America’s northernmost chain of mountains. The park’s name dates to 1929, when conservationist Robert Marshall found an unobstructed path northward to the Arctic coast of Alaska while exploring the North Fork of the Koyukuk River. Upon seeing the two mountains, Mt. Boreal and Frigid Crags flanking the river, Marshall named the portal the “Gates of the Arctic.”

With the exception of the Dalton Highway (famous for its depiction on Ice Road Truckers), the park is far from any roads and is home to only one village, Anaktuvuk Pass. Eight more Alaska Native villages dot the perimeter, but all have less than 400 permanent residents. With no roads, campgrounds or designated hiking trails in the park, a visit to Gates of the Arctic requires careful planning and advance reservations. Visitors must fly into one of the gateway communities of Bettles, Anaktuvuk Pass or Coldfoot, and then hike into the park. Most visitors are extremely experienced backcountry travelers who come here for backpacking treks, fishing for lake trout, or viewing the abundant wildlife in the park including grizzly bears, Dall sheep, moose, wolverines and Western Arctic caribou.


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