Sierra Club – Western Arctic Base Camp

Sierra Club – Western Arctic Base Camp


July 24, 2024 - July 28, 2024


Western Arctic


Payment through Sierra Club



July 24, 2024 - July 28, 2024


Western Arctic


Payment through Sierra Club

In northern Alaska between the Chukchi Sea and the western Brooks Range is a seldom traveled region of broad vistas and tundra etched with caribou trails. It is an important wilderness area and almost totally unknown. Explore the wildest corner of arctic Alaska with Arctic Wild and the Sierra Club.


The western Brooks Range is rich country. This is where the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, numbering about 165,000 animals, spends the summer raising calves under the midnight sun. Bear and wolverine populations are higher here than anywhere else in Alaska’s arctic. And the birding…the birding is outstanding.

We plan to camp at the northern edge of the Brooks Range in the Utukok Uplands Special Area. Our comfortable camp provides a base for exploring the varied and wild landscape. With 24 hours of daylight there is no end to the adventures we can have. The Biden administration is currently engaged in a process that could increase protections for 13 million acres of the western arctic. This would be a significant contribution to our national conservation goal. Sierra Club experts on our trip will provide inside information into the conservation efforts.

Not only does this area support a diversity of wildlife but it has long been home to Inupiaq peoples who have thrived in the Arctic for thousands of years. We will position our camp in an area where we expect caribou to be traveling, just as people always have. We will work hard not to leave signs of our presence in the mountains, but we may find signs of an older way of life on the tundra. Over the generations, Inupiat hunters built miles and miles of stone fences to direct the caribou toward ambushes where they were hunted with spears, often from kayaks. To stand on a low ridge among miles of caribou fences is to step back in time, to see and almost feel the ancient Inupiat hunters employing knowledge and ingenuity to harvest caribou from this arctic landscape.

Bird watching in the area can be spectacular. Asian bird species such as bluethroats and northern wheatears can be spotted. Jaegers are ubiquitous and waterfowl are abundant. On our last foray in the area, we saw golden eagles, gyrfalcons, peregrine falcons, and rough-legged hawks.

Hiking in the area is wonderful and varied. There are seemingly endless ridges running perpendicular to the river where the footing is good and the views are unbelievable. While not a land of dramatic peak ascents and whitewater, this is a place of wildlife, beauty, and long vistas. We can follow mile after mile of caribou trails which ascend the ridges and plunge into the side creeks. The ridge tops are shingled in slate and sandstone, littered with 300 million years old marine fossils, and brilliant with wildflowers.

On our daily adventures, we can hike till foot-sore, or we can enjoy a sunny spot out of the wind and scan the horizon for wildlife. The small group and endless daylight, along with a knowledgable guide, allows for tremendous flexibility in our daily activities.

Living out of doors above the Arctic Circle presents challenges. The weather is mercurial and there are no trails on which to hike. But you need not be an adventure athlete to enjoy a week in the wilds with us. Hikes are tailored to suit the group, and attitude is as important as fitness in your success. Adventurous souls well into their 70’s thrive on our trips. The rewards are tremendous and the experience promises to be memorable.

Last updated: December 19, 2023


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

July 23

Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting/ gear-check at the Arctic Wild World Headquarters in Fairbanks at 4 pm.

July 24

Our trip begins with a flight over the Yukon River and into the Brooks Range. We fly on and on, watching the world’s largest terrestrial wilderness pass below us. After crossing the Brooks Range we land on a gravel island along a small river After unloading the plane and pitching camp we will have nothing but time to explore this pristine area.

July 25 - 27

We have 3 days (and nights) to explore the Western Arctic! We can hike as much as you like, or enjoy spending our time relishing the solitude from the comfort of camp. The time is yours to enjoy.

June 28

We will wait for our pilot and then (if the weather allows) fly back to Fairbanks. We hope to be back to civilization around 7 pm. Time to take a shower!

Kitchen tent and prepared meal in Arctic Alaska

Our guide was a patient and highly skilled guide who also took the time to educate us about geology, local wildlife, and the nunamiut people. Once my guilt for excessive comfort was taken care, we had a terrific experience.

- Vann, North Carolina, USA



Charter flights from Fairbanks into the Western Arctic and back

Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Professional guide service

Select Camping Equipment is available through Arctic Wild


Non-camp lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide(s)


Temperatures vary from the 70’s to below freezing with averages in the upper 50’s. Snow is possible; rain is likely. However, this time of the year we generally have lots of sunny dry weather.  Strong, cold north winds are not unusual. It is a windy part of the state.

There will be bugs so bring a mosquito head-net and a bottle of DEET repellent.


A Thousand Trails Home by Seth Kantner

On Arctic Ground by Debbie Miller

People of the Noatak by Clair Fejes

Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner

Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall

"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!"
client client client client client
Eileen - Canning River