Gates of the Arctic National Park’s iconic backpack trip. The headwaters of the Alatna and Noatak Rivers is an inviting region of rugged mountains, broad valleys and clear water. Every fall caribou of the Western Arctic Herd make their way through this beautiful area. Join them following timeless trails through the mountains.
Last updated: August 11, 2018
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 4pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters.
Fly north from Fairbanks across the Yukon River to the tiny village of Bettles. After touring both streets in town, we board a small plane and continue on into the Gates of the Arctic National Park. After landing on a sprawling lake, we’ll hike a short distance to the best camp we can find. We can use the rest of the evening to explore the plateau.
We have about thirty five miles to go and six full days to cover the distance. Of these, we will take at least one layover day to hike and explore. On moving days, we’ll travel about seven miles, which will keep us on our feet for five to six hours. The day hiking from our campsites will be good. On layover days we can strike out without our heavy packs and climb peaks or enjoy a leisurely day resting in camp and watching the wildlife and light dance around the landscape.
Hike a few miles to our pick-up spot, a lake shining blue, beneath white- and cream-colored bluffs covered with sage. Weather permitting, we’ll meet the floatplane for our flight back to town and a hot shower!
Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless. A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.
You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed. Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails. He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.
Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks
Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter
Safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
Weather this time of year is often cool and sometimes stormy, though we can get some awesome clear weather. Precipitation is generally light, and it’s fairly easy to keep comfortably dry. Because it’s the arctic, however, snow is always possible and you can expect temperatures to range from the 30s to the 60s. Because of the cool weather, mosquitoes should be absent but there could still be a few flies so DEET and a head-net are prudent things to pack.