Enjoy the wild landscape of the central Brooks Range in Gates of the Arctic National Park with us this fall as the tundra turns crimson and gold with fall colors. From our comfortable camp on the tundra you have ample time to hike the tundra, watch for arctic wildlife, search for ancient Inupiat Eskimo sites, and enjoy the nation’s northern most National Park.
Gates of the Arctic is the “crown jewel” of America’s National Park system. With 19 million acres of sprawling and undeveloped wild land in the central Brooks Range, it is a wilderness like no other. With no constructed trails, no campgrounds, and no visitor services of any kind, Gates of the Arctic is the perfect place for wilderness exploration and solitude. One of our favorite places in the Park is north of the continental divide surrounded by mountains and tundra as far as the eye can see.
Camping in Gates of the Arctic is sublime. Views across the valley into the peaks of the Brooks Range change hour by hour with the light and the weather. Days will be spent hiking through the varied landscape. There are peaks to climb, glacial cirques to explore, and broad valleys to wander. Adventures abound.
One of our favorite routes heads up a side creek to the east of camp. As we ascend, the valley narrows into a canyon, often full of animal sign. A caribou trail leads to a stunning peak from which we can survey the entire area, with broad valleys, small ice fields, and clear creeks all surrounded by the rugged and rocky peaks. From the high point of the hike, we can make our way back along a gradual ridge basking in the beauty of the Arctic.
Arctic grayling are abundant in the river and we are happy to help you learn to fish and to cook them for dinner if you are successful. Both spinning gear and fly rods are appropriate.
We never know exactly what wildlife we may encounter on a trip, but caribou frequent the area in August, feeding on the rich green tundra in small bands. It is also a great place to watch bears grazing the flats or eating berries on the slopes. We may also see wolves, red fox, moose and a great variety of other furred and feathered creatures during our time in the mountains. The serendipity is part of what makes encountering wildlife so rewarding. A keen interest and keen eyes are certain to spot a great variety of wildlife.
You need not be a seasoned adventurer to enjoy this trip. Our sturdy base camp and excellent cooking leave you free to enjoy the wilderness and our seasoned guides are on hand to teach you the skills of living in the remote and sometimes challenging arctic. With good equipment and a great attitude this will be an adventure never to be forgotten.
Last updated: November 22, 2021
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide(s) for a pre-trip meeting at Arctic Wild headquarters in Fairbanks.
You’ll be picked up early at your hotel in Fairbanks and shuttled to the airport where we’ll catch a charter flight to Gates of the Arctic. We might make a stop in the community of Bettles to fuel-up or switch planes, but if the weather permits we will be on the north-side of the Brooks Range by mid-day. Once there we’ll set up a comfortable camp on the tundra next to the creej before heading out to explore.
Each day in the backcountry brings something different. Some days we will take day 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, or simply enjoy the solitude and quiet.
Weather permitting, we’ll say a final goodbye to Gates of the Arctic and the Brooks Range before boarding the plane for the trip back south. If the weather cooperates and all goes as planned we’ll arrive back in Fairbanks in time for dinner and well-deserved showers.
The guides were uncommonly knowledgeable, competent, hardworking, and they consistently took care of the group before taking care of their own stuff. They kept our safety in mind while staying open to suggestions, and allowing folks a lot of freedom for personal wanderings.
Transportation beyond Fairbanks
Food while in the wilderness
Stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
Select Camping Equipment is available through Arctic Wild
Personal clothing and gear. See full equipment list
Fishing gear, and fishing license
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.