Camping in the boreal forest in the Brooks Range, near the Arrigetch peaks. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Well, it’s well and truly spring here in Alaska, and the summer/fall hiking season right around the corner. So for anyone heading north this summer, this page might be of interest to you. Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of the less visited national parks in the state, which makes it a great place to explore and “get away”. Miles upon miles of mountain wilderness, boreal forest and alpine tundra make it a diverse and fascinating hiking region.
At the same time, it’s also a challenging expedition. Logistics for getting there, getting ‘in’ to the park, hiking across muskeg, dealing with mosquitoes, bears, rivers, and trailess terrain can be intimidating. So let’s look at a few options you might want to consider.
Getting to Gates of the Arctic
You’re options for hiking in Gates of the Arctic National Park, for most folks, start with Fairbanks. You want to head north, either up the Dalton highway (Haul Rd), or fly. If you fly, my recommendation is to fly directly to Bettles; you can catch a regularly scheduled charter flight, so it’s not super-expensive like a charter flight can be. If you take the Dalton, either ride up to Coldfoot/Wiseman, or stop at Prospect Creek (maybe 75 miles south of Coldfoot). You can fly from Prospect Creek landing strip in to Bettles (schedule with your air taxi well before leaving Fairbanks, you can’t schedule this on arrival,as there is no one there). If you go all the way up to Coldfoot, you can hook up with an air taxi service there and fly in to the backcountry.
There is a Park Service Visitor Center there in Coldfoot where you can get some more information; but don’t expect to get a lot of trail beta there. Gather that well before you start your trip. Typically, the folks in the VC aren’t going to be able to offer you a lot of hiking information for Gates of the Arctic National Park. You’ll need to check in though, and either pick up or show them your Bear Resistant Food Canister (BRFCs are requisite for hiking/backpacking in Gates of the Arctic National Park). …. Read the rest of this entry » »