Western Arctic Base Camp – Alaska Wilderness League

Western Arctic Base Camp – Alaska Wilderness League


June 20, 2024 - June 24, 2024


Western Arctic





June 20, 2024 - June 24, 2024


Western Arctic



In the far northwest corner of Alaska between the Chukchi Sea and the Western Brooks Range is a seldom traveled region of broad vistas and tundra etched with caribou trails. Explore the wildest corner of arctic Alaska with Arctic Wild and Alaska Wilderness League.


The Western Brooks Range is rich country. This is where the Western arctic caribou herd, numbering about 165,000 animals, calves their young before gathering in large herds each spring. 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 north of the Brooks Range in a region of long ridges and broad plateaus. It is a serene landscape with long vistas and big sky. 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. And with luck, we may intercept bands of caribou swimming the river with week-old calves in tow.

Not only does this area support enormous numbers of caribou, but it also hosts a great diversity of other wildlife. Caribou herds are attended by an assortment of predators and scavengers, namely brown bears, wolves, and the fabled wolverine. Musk oxen can be seen feeding in the willows of the river terraces. Wildlife is highly unpredictable and sometimes hard to spot, but we will keep our eyes peeled for animals on the tundra day and night.

Bird watching in the area can be spectacular. Asian bird species such as bluethroats and northern wheatears can be seen. Jaegers are ubiquitous and bristle-thighed curlews have be found on the rocky ridge lines. On our last foray in the area, we saw golden eagles, gyrfalcons, peregrine falcons, and rough-legged hawks nesting along the river.

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 white water, 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.

Last updated: March 30, 2024


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

June 19

Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting/ gear check in Kotzebue at 6:45 pm.

June 20

Our trip begins with a flight over the Noatak Valley 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 the river. After unloading the plane and pitching camp we will have nothing but time to explore this pristine area.

June 21 - 23

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 24

We will wait for our pilot and then (if the weather allows) fly back to Kotzebue. We hope to be back in Kotzebue by about 5 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 Kotzebue 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

Caribou and the Barren Lands by George Calef

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