Immerse yourself in the wild landscape of the central Brooks Range in Gates of the Arctic National Park as summer turns to fall. Our five day base camp trip allows you to relish the solitude and serenity of the America’s northernmost National Park in the company of an experienced wilderness guide and naturalist. Day hikes, fishing, fall colors and excellent chances to see wildlife make this a great introduction to Alaska’s Arctic.
After our flights from Fairbanks we will set up a comfortable base camp on the shore of Agiak Lake in the headwaters of the John River. We’ll be just spitting distance from the Continental Divide. The mountains surrounding Agiak are dramatically lined with with glacial cirques dotted with smaller alpine lakes. The tundra in the broad valleys should be filled with the orange and red of autumn foliage and the sweet light of morning and evening lasts for hours during late August.
Days will be spent hiking through the varied landscape, looking for wildlife and/or just enjoying the view. Or if we stay closer to camp there is great fishing for arctic grayling and lake trout in Agiak Lake, archaeological sites to examine, fields of blueberries ripe for the picking and no end of interesting things to discover on the tundra. We intend to explore some of the wildest country in North America at a lovely time of year.
There are often caribou in the area in the fall, seeming to enjoy the high meadows and good forage, fattening before winter descends. Their dark coats and heavy antlers are stunning against the colorful tundra and snow capped peaks. We may also see grizzly bears, wolves, moose and/or Dall sheep. Foxes occasionally flirt on the edge of camp and we even see porcupine waddling across the tundra muttering to themselves, blonde quills bright in the fall tundra. If you keep your binoculars handy you’ll likely be rewarded.
Our sturdy base camp and excellent cooking leave you free to enjoy the wilderness and to photograph, fish, paint or follow your muse where it takes you. The time is yours, the wilderness endless and the leadership a good blend of professional and relaxed.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
We’ll have a pre-trip meeting at Arctic Wild headquarters at 4 pm the afternoon before our departure where we’ll meet our travel companions, check gear, and discuss the next day’s logistics.
You’ll be picked up early at your hotel in Fairbanks and shuttled to the airport where we’ll catch a charter flight to the bush village of Bettles in the southern foothills of the Brooks Range. From there we’ll load our gear into a small float plane for the hour-long flight across the mountains to Agiak Lake. Once there we’ll set up a comfortable camp on the tundra next to the lake before heading out to explore.
Each day in the backcountry brings something different. Some days we will take day-long hikes to explore the glacial cirques, nearby alpine lakes, or wander the high ridges. Other days we may stick closer to camp, allowing the opportunity to fish, search for wildlife, photograph the nearby surroundings, muse over the archeological sites or discover the wilderness on your own. The weather and the groups desires will guide our activities.
Weather permitting, we’ll say a final goodbye to Agiak Lake and the Brooks Range and take a few last photos before boarding the float plane for the trip back to Bettles and on home to Fairbanks. If the weather cooperates and all goes as planned we’ll arrive back in Fairbanks in time for dinner and a long hot shower.
Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks into the Brooks Range and back
Food while in the wilderness
Safety & repair gear, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, kitchen tent, water filter and other camp supplies
Professional guide service
Personal Clothing and gear per our equipment list
Fishing gear, and fishing license
Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild
Gratuity for guide(s)
Temperatures vary from the 60’s to below freezing. Snow is possible; rain is likely. As summer turns to fall we can expect a wide variety of weather. With the warm weather behind us we don’t expect many bugs but bring a small bottle of DEET just in case.