Sierra Club – Arctic Base Camp

Sierra Club – Arctic Base Camp


June 9, 2023 - June 15, 2023


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge





June 9, 2023 - June 15, 2023


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge



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 recently frozen ground bursts with flowers and bird song. Join us for a six day base camp trip in the Arctic Refuge and experience wilderness solitude at its best.



The glory of the Arctic in summer is hard to describe. The endless daylight and the distant horizon, combined with the surprising abundance of life in an austere landscape; cast each day in a euphoric and almost dream-like hue. One of our favorite places in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is at the very northern edge of the Brooks Range, south of the Arctic Ocean amongst the rolling and colorful foothills.

This is wide open country, a polar desert. We have chosen the campsite for the good hiking, great views, and excellent chances of viewing wildlife. In recent years the Porcupine River 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 thousands of caribou streamed 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 seemingly 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 tundra valley surrounded by gravely creeks, rocky ridges, and with luck, wildlife. Flat tundra makes an excellent camp, three square meals a day plus a glacial river 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.

Last updated: December 19, 2023


What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

June 9

At 9 am, meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at Arctic Wild headquarters.

Once everyone is ready for the adventure we head to the airport and then fly 200 miles north from Fairbanks, across the Yukon River, the Arctic Circle, and into the Brooks Range.

Welcome to Arctic Village, Alaska, a Gwich’in community of about one hundred people. Our hosts will show us around the beautiful village, sharing stories about life in the Arctic and the importance of protecting the coastal plain from development.


June 10

After a night in the village and breakfast with new friends, we return to the airstrip and await our bush plane which will ferry us further north and deeper into the mountains. At the northern edge of the Brooks Range we alight on a sand-bar, unload the plane and begin camping.

Once we set up camp we can take the first of many hikes on the tundra.

June 11 - 14

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.

June 15

Pack up early and begin listening for our airplane. When (weather permitting) it arrives mid-day we reluctantly load our gear and ourselves for the flight back to Fairbanks likely in time for a late dinner. A shower is in order.

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.

- Jim, Alaska, USA



Transportation beyond Fairbanks

Food while in the wilderness

Stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Professional guide service

Select Camping Equipment


Non-camp lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List

Gratuity for guides


Weather this time of year is typically dry and sunny but not particularly warm. It is spring and the snow will be melting. Winds off the Arctic Ocean can be cold. Bugs should not have hatched yet but bring a little DEET just in case.


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

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
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Eileen - Canning River