There is no place quite like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when the sun shines day and night on the endless rolling tundra, and the frozen ground bursts with flowers and bird song. Join us for a five day base camp trip in the Arctic Refuge and experience wilderness solitude at its best.
One of our favorite places in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge is north of the Brooks Range, but south of the Arctic Ocean in the colorful Sadlerochit Mountains. It is dry rocky country, a polar desert. We have chosen the Sadlerochits for the good hiking, great views, and excellent chances of viewing wildlife. In recent years the Porcupine Caribou Herd has also favored this area, making it a great place to enjoy the wide open beauty of the refuge and a decent place to look for wildlife too. Nothing can be guaranteed with wildlife, but last year we guided a trip in the same area on similar dates and they saw thousands of caribou streaming through the valley on two separate days.
Regardless of what the area’s wildlife does, we will explore the mountains on foot each day. With 24 hours of daylight and nearly limitless wilderness all around, there is no end to the exploration we can do. Each day we will head off in a different direction seeking wildlife and vistas. How far you choose to hike each day is largely up to you. We can ascend small peaks for views of the coastal plain and the Arctic Ocean, wander into a narrow canyon to admire the twisted rock formations or we can explore the wide open valley floor. Our only limits are our imaginations (and/or safety).
Our home for the week will be a rocky valley surrounded by cliffs, peaks, and with luck, wildlife. Flat tundra makes an excellent camp, three square meals a day plus a small clear creek in the front yard means we are comfortable and at our leisure to enjoy the wilderness. Our camp will have a world-class view and as many amenities as we can fit into the small bush planes. A large “cook-tent” provides a sheltered place to prepare and enjoy wholesome meals. A small camp library is full of resources to help you learn more about the Arctic. Tents are spacious, and wind worthy. When the weather is mild we enjoy the comfort of outdoor living relaxing in camp chairs, eating good food, and watching the changing light on the mountains, even at two in the morning.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 4 p.m. in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters. Happy Solstice!
Fly 350 miles north from Fairbanks, across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the Gwich’in Athabascan village of Arctic Village. In Arctic Village we will meet our pilot for the beautiful flight over the Continental Divide past countless peaks and glaciers into the Sadlerochit Mountains . Once we have all arrived, we will make camp and enjoy the first of many hikes.
Each day will bring its own surprises. The hiking will be varied from soft tundra to long gravel bars to rocky slopes. With luck there will be caribou and other wildlife to enjoy near camp. The camping is excellent and the scenery unbeatable.
Pack up early and begin listening for our airplane. When it arrives we reluctantly load our gear and ourselves for the flight back through Arctic Village and on to Fairbanks, arriving late in the afternoon. A shower is in order.
Transportation beyond Fairbanks
Food while in the wilderness
Stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Professional guide service.
Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List
Select Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild
Gratuity for guides
Weather this time of year is typically dry and this is the warmest part of the year, though we can get some powerful storms that can either rain or snow on us. Precipitation is generally light, and it’s fairly easy to keep comfortably dry. You can expect temperatures to range from the 30s to the 70s. Mosquitoes could be bothersome down in the river valleys but usually there is breeze enough to keep them down. Bring DEET and a head-net just in case.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Alaska Geographic; Naturalists Guide to the Arctic by E.C. Pielou; Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer; Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez; Caribou & the Barren-Lands by George Calef; Fifty Years Below Zero by Charles Brown; Midnight Wilderness by Debbie Miller; Seasons of Life and Land by Shubanker Banjeeri; Arctic Wings by Stephen Brown. More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore.