Gates of the Arctic National Park Backpacking Trips

Backpacking trips for the wilderness lover

The park is enormous. Lying on both the north and south sides of the Continental Divide, the park extends over 800 miles east to west. The entire roadless park lies north of the Arctic Circle.

That vastness is just one part of what makes Gates of the Arctic such a great destination for extensive backpacking trips.

A seemingly endless wilderness, the park terrain consists of endless glaciated valleys and rolling or jagged mountain peaks. The Brooks Range are the prominent mountain range in the Park. The Endicott Mountains and also the Schwatka Mountains dominate the landscape. Many of these peaks are over 7000′ high.

Gates of the Arctic northernmost region is largely treeless slopes of the Arctic plain. Rolling endless stretches of tundra lie north of the divide and extend all the way beyond the park to the Arctic Ocean. A great backpacking location.

The entire Noatak River drainage, of which the headwaters are in Gates of the Arctic is internationally recognized as a biosphere reserve in the United Nation’s “Man in the Biosphere” program.

Gates of the Arctic National Park gets its name from the early explorer Robert (Bob) Marshall. He coined the term on the North fork of the Koyukuk River as he camped beneath the two towering peaks we call Boreal Mountain and Frigid Crags. Rising tall on either side of the river, they stand almost sentinel-like above the landscape.

Gates of the Arctic Trips

More About Gates of the Arctic National Park


Gates of the Arctic National Park is home to both black and grizzly bears. Other wildlife include wolves, wolverine, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, coyotes, lynx, red fox, muskox, beaver, river otter, and more.

An array of birdlife spend the summers here. Golden eagle, bald eagle, Peregrine and Gyr falcon, Great Horned and Snowy Owl, Rough-legged hawk, Northern Goshawk are just a few of the raptors found in the park.

Home of the Wood frog, a 2-3 inch long frog that can freeze solid in the winter, thaw out and come back to “life” in the spring. Pretty amazing feat.


There are no maintained trails within the park and only a couple of hike able social/game trails exist.

Wilderness is best enjoyed wild. We offer both backpacking trips and packrafting trips inside Gates of the Arctic and strive to maintain a minimal ecological footprint best we can.

Within this Park are six Wild and Scenic Rivers. You can enjoy one of them on our Alatna River Packraft trip.

Winter activities could include snowshoeing and backcountry skiing. The park can also be a great place to view northern lights.

Learn More About Gates

Blog Posts From Gates

Gates of the Arctic National park hiking trips The Maidens, Arrigetch Peaks.

Hey Folks, 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 […]

Arrigetch Peaks backpacking trip A steep descent of the Arrigetch Peaks, Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Hey Folks, I’ve written on the topic of trekking poles a few times in the past. Here also. Every year I receive a lot of questions about the use of trekking poles in Alaska. Nothing’s changed. Use them. The image above illustrates how useful they can be. Backpacking up or down steep terrain like this, often on […]

Northern lights photo Brooks Range Alaska.

Hey Folks, It’s that time of the year again. Wrapping up image editing and putting together a quick gallery of photos from the year for you. These are mostly from different photo tours we ran this year.   Northern Lights over Brooks Range, Alaska. Polar bear cubs wrestling, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Arrigetch Peaks Gates of the Arctic National Park hiking trip, Alaska.

Caliban, Arrigetch peaks, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska.

Featured image Expeditions Alaska Alatna River Gates of the Arctic National Park Alaska.

hey Folks, Whoops sorry about this. I haven’t posted in a while. Things were pretty hectic since July, and I’ve now got a little bit of down time so I’ll try to make up for that. Instead of posting an Image of the Month for November, I’ll upload a handful of photos, one for August […]

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