We’ll start the trip in Fairbanks, Alaska – our launching point for all of our adventures above the Arctic Circle! After an evening pouring over maps and discussing our route, we’ll board the first of 2 bush flights necessary to get us into the wilderness. We’ll fly from Fairbanks to Bettles, a true bush community accessible only by air and the town where many Brooks Range expeditions launch. After loading our gear and ourselves into a floatplane, we’ll leave the lake and watch miles of untouched wilderness drift below us, as the Arrigetch Peaks grow larger on the approaching horizon. With the precision Alaska bush pilots are known for, we’ll touch down on Circle Lake and unload our gear on the shore. As soon as the plane leaves the water, we’ll suddenly & silently find ourselves alone in the epicenter of true wilderness.
As we shoulder our packs and begin the difficult uphill climb out of the Alatna River Valley, we’ll all be anxious for our first glimpse of the Arrigetch Peaks and the country that we’ll explore for the next 8 days! Experience one of Alaska’s best kept secrets with Alaska Alpine Adventures!
The Arrigetch, meaning “fingers of the outstretched hands”, are a cluster of peaks within the mighty Brooks Range. The Arrigetch Peaks are known for their sheer walls, vertical spires and spectacular relief. Join us for a 10-day exploratory backpacking adventure into the heart of this amazing hiking paradise, deep within the wilderness of Gates of the Arctic National Park!
Our backpacking trip into the Arrigetch Peaks, in the heart of Alaska’s Brooks Range, will allow you the opportunity to explore the best of Gates of the Arctic National Park. From the lowland spruce country of the Alatna River Valley to the amazing tundra country below the spectacular Arrigetch spires, Gates of the Arctic is worthy of priority on every explorer’s bucket list!
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 hoist our packs, and begin the steep and strenuous climb out of the Alatna River valley and into the alpine high country that will be our home for the next 6 nights. The arduous climb out of the Alatna will reward with spectacular tundra hiking along ridges, unparalleled views of deep glacially carved valleys, 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 afternoon of day 9 we’ll descend from the high alpine and return to the Alatna River valley. With a sense of humility and accomplishment, we’ll await our bush flight. 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
- Toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer
- Water treatment options
- Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
- Trekking poles
- Roundtrip air transportation from Fairbanks to Bettles
- Roundtrip air 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.
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 and, 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 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’s 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.