Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve Trekking and Backpacking Overview
 (© MacGill Adams, Wilderness Alaska)

Gates of the Arctic National Park Trekking and Backpacking Highlights

  • Join the Fairbanks-based ABEC's Alaska Adventures for a guided backpacking trip of the Brooks Range. The area is so unpopulated that some creeks and mountains still remain nameless. Untamed and unpredictable, the mountains of the Brooks Range offer beauty, solitude, and challenge.
  • Alaska Wildtrek is a Gates of the Arctic National Park trek that includes about six hours of walking each day for five days. The mountains on either side of the North Fork of the Koyukuk River come close together and narrow the valley so that the continental divide can be seen to the north. The trekking leads from Wiseman through the wilderness of the Brooks Range to this Gate. You reach Wiseman by van along the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks.
  • One way to see the park's backcountry under the auspices of the park services is to join the Artist-in-Residence program. The Artist-in-Residence program offers professional writers, composers, musicians, visual artists, photographers, filmmakers, and artisans of all other types the opportunity to pursue their craft in this premier wilderness setting. The artists provide their own food, art supplies, camping, and backpacking gear transportation to and from Coldfoot, Alaska. The park supplies transportation originating and ending in Coldfoot, watercraft and associated equipment for float trips, and bear resistant food containers for all trips.

Hike on existing trails to minimize disturbance to soil and vegetation. Avoid multiple trail formation. If no trails exist, a group should travel in a fan pattern whenever possible. Above all, leave your trail unmarked.

Private Property
Private land and cabins are scattered throughout Alaskan parks and refuges. Though travel may be through remote country, you may encounter private property. Cabins, caches, trap lines, and fishnets should be respected and not disturbed. Check with the land manager of the area you are visiting for land status.

You may also encounter prehistoric or historic sites. These sites usually hold great significance for the local Native people. Respect their heritage and leave the site undisturbed.

During your trip in the Arctic, you will most likely visit rural communities. Invasion of community privacy is a concern of many rural residents. Be sensitive to local lifestyle activities.

Carry a collapsible water jug to cut down on trips for water, thereby reducing trail formation. Bathe and wash dishes at least 100 feet from sources of drinking water and use biodegradable soaps. Water may contain Giardia lamblia, or other intestinal parasites. It is recommended that you drink only boiled, filtered, or chemically treated water.

Make certain that your equipment is sturdy and functional, and that you have adequate field repair kits. First aid knowledge and supplies are a must. Signaling devices such as smoke flares, mirrors, strobes, or signal cloths should be carried for emergencies. If you carry a ground to air radio or personal emergency locating device, realize that they are to be used in serious emergencies only.

Planning for Contingencies
Leave your itinerary with a dependable person and make firm arrangements with an air taxi operator. Air taxis may be delayed several days due to bad weather, so carry extra food.

Leave natural objects and cultural artifacts.

Natural objects of beauty or interest, such as antlers or fossils, should be left for others to discover and enjoy. Antlers also provide an important calcium source for small mammals. It is illegal to remove any natural objects including plants and flowers from all National Park Service lands.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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