Gates of the Arctic National Park remains one of the most remote and unspoiled places on earth. At 8.4 million acres, Gates covers an area twice the size of Connecticut and only a bit smaller than the country of Switzerland. The park is essentially road-less, and except for limited and difficult access along the Dalton highway, most recreational visitors choose to enter its wilderness via a chartered bush plane.
The area of the park we will be visiting involves two separate bush flights. The first takes us from Fairbanks to Bettles, a small gateway community and the field headquarters for the National Park Service. From Bettles, we will then hop into a float-plane for the flight to Circle Lake and the start of 10 days of hiking and rafting in the Arrigetch. This part of the park offers the full spectrum of Alaska hiking; from bushwhacking and talus hopping to tundra romping and creek crossing. We’ll spend our days exploring this small portion of the Brooks Range, and our nights enjoying the sounds of Arrigetch Creek as we camp along its tundra carpeted headwaters beneath the massive granite escarpments of the Arrigetch Peaks.
After 6-days of hiking & backpacking, we’ll trade trekking poles for paddles for and amazing canoe trip down the wild and scenic Alatna River running directly through the heart of the Brooks Range. The Alatna’s clear water, stunning vistas, and moderate whitewater (mostly class I &II) make it the perfect river for a novice boater. And the subdued nature of Alaska river life is always the perfect compliment and contrast to a strenuous backpacking trip. We’ll spend the final days boating along the Alatna until we reach our pick-up at the Malamute Fork. Experience one of Alaska’s most amazing combination expeditions with Alaska Alpine Adventures.
Our incomparable 12-day combination adventure will take you backpacking and hiking through the Arrigetch Peaks region of the central Brooks Range plus canoeing down the Wild and Scenic Alatna River. For those looking for the quintessential expedition into the remote wilds of Gates of the Arctic National Park, look no further.
Today you are free to arrive in Fairbanks on your own. From the airport, grab the complimentary airport shuttle to Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, which is located near the airport on the banks of the Chena River. After checking into the lodge, you’ll meet your guide by late afternoon for orientation and gear check, followed by a group dinner featuring gourmet pizza and local craft brews. The orientation will include a discussion of the route, an introduction to our unique style of Alaska wilderness travel, a familiarization of the principles of Leave No Trace, and a conversation about traveling safely in bear country.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll make our way back to the airport for our bush flight from Fairbanks to Bettles, the gateway community to Gates of the Arctic NP. Once in Bettles, we’ll transfer our gear to an awaiting float-plane for the 1-hour flight to Circle Lake – a small oxbow lake near the banks of the Alatna River. As we bid our pilot goodbye, thoughts will quickly turn to the expedition ahead. We’ll make camp near the lake, savor our first night in the wilderness, and prepare for our Alaska backpacking adventure into the Arrigetch Peaks.
We’ll spend the next 5 days backpacking and hiking in the high country among the Arrigetch Peaks. We’ll encounter a steep & very strenuous climb of 3000’+ on the first day backpacking, but by the second morning, the country will open up and yield to spectacular alpine tundra speckled with beautiful lakes and laced with tumbling creeks. The Arrigetch offers up incredible camp locations, and stupendous vistas of the magnificent Arrigetch Peaks. Whether ascending a high mountain pass, walking along a tundra-clad ridge, or hiking alongside a high alpine lake, exploring this area will provide you the essence of Gates of the Arctic National Park, and the vastness of an incomparable wilderness. By the end of day 7, we’ll be making our way back to Circle Lake where we shift gears from a backpacking trip to a rafting adventure!
We’ll spend the next 3+ days rafting and exploring the Alatna River. The Alatna River flows south from the Brooks Range through canyons and past huge mountain peaks. Wildlife can be seen along the river and it’s not uncommon to see wolves, grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall’s sheep, and birds of prey. The Alatna is a federally recognized Wild & Scenic River and has been called one of the most beautiful rivers in the Arctic.
By the mid-morning of day 11, we’ll reach the Malamute Fork of the Alatna where we’ll await our bush flight. Once again, our bush pilot will use his skills to negotiate a landing and takeoff from the Alatna River itself! We’ll then make our way back to Bettles, where we will set up camp along the Koyukuk River. We’ll enjoy a celebratory meal at a local restaurant.
After breakfast in Bettles, we’ll return to Fairbanks and the conclusion of our trip. If you are leaving Alaska on this day, please schedule flights home from Fairbanks for after 8pm. Better yet, plan to spend another night at Pikes.
- All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
- All toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer.
- Water treatment options
- All Rafting Equipment: Inflatable kayaks, life jackets, paddles plus spares, repair kits, throw bags, and dry bags
- Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, Garmin InReach, maps, and medical kit
- Trekking poles
- Roundtrip air transportation from Fairbanks to Bettles
- Roundtrip floatplane transportation from Bettles into the wilderness
- Lodging on night one in Fairbanks
- Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
- All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
Alaska Factor: The Real Deal
While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip. The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary. Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.” Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.
- $7695 /person
- 35+ miles, 50+ river miles
- Level 3
- Begins In:
- Ends In:
- Fairbanks International (FAI)
- Gates of the Arctic National Park
- Bears, Wolves, Dall Sheep, Caribou, Moose
- Great For:
- Explorers, Couples, Individuals
I just wanted to take some time and really thank you for that Gates of the Arctic Trip. The word I keep coming back to is “pivotal.” There was something about the physical exertion, the mental challenge, the mind-blowing Alaska landscape, the natural serenity – it all just combined to have a very positive and trans-formative effect on me.
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Have questions about this trip? We’ve got answers.
Gates of the Arctic National Park, despite being the recipient of frequent media attention over the past 45 years, remains one of the most remote and unspoiled places on earth. Its 8.4 million acres cover an area twice the size of Connecticut and only slightly smaller than Switzerland. The park is essentially a road-less wilderness area, except for limited and difficult access along the Dalton highway. Traversing the landscape below the Arrigetch Peaks alters our sense of scale as well as our definition of true wilderness. Rafting, hiking, and backpacking in Gates of the Arctic are the activities that Alaska Alpine Adventures specializes in and we have been operating in Gates of the Arctic National Park since 2005.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve lies 250 miles north of Fairbanks, and over 450 miles north of Anchorage. The national park is the central component of the 700 square mile protected Brooks Range. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is to the east, and the Noatak National Preserve is to the west.
Access to Gates of the Arctic National Park is mainly by small aircraft or, in some instances, can be arduously accessed by foot.
Absolutely, our Arctic trips are all inclusive from Fairbanks. All you need to do is get yourself to our lodge in Fairbanks on Day 1 of your itinerary.
Your Alaska Alpine Adventures guide will meet you in the afternoon at the lodge on Day 1 for an orientation dinner and gear check.
You will join your guides for breakfast at the lodge on the morning of day two. From there, the group will shuttle to the air taxi for the flight to Bettles. We will be flying with Wright Air from Fairbanks to Bettles. From there, we’ll transfer to the float plane lake in Bettles for our float plane flight into the wilderness with Brooks Range Aviation.
Absolutely. The national park is home to grizzly and black bears, Dall sheep, caribou, moose, wolves, and tremendous seasonal populations of migratory birds.
Yes, there is an additional fee of $275 if you request OR end up in your own room at the hotel on night one.
For additional information, please reach out to us.