Explore the northernmost national park in the United States

The northernmost national park in the United States is as remote as it gets, but here’s why Gates of the Arctic is so unique – and how to get there.

Due to its location, the gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve frequently land on lists of the least visited national parks in the United States. In 2021, it only attracted more than 7,000 visitors as the northernmost national park in the United States

The park has no roads or trails, an attractive prospect for those who want to get out of their comfort zone – but at the same time a diversion for others. It may not be a vacationer’s first choice, but the Arctic Gates is a humble adventure zone, thanks to its rugged beauty. Others may not be aware of its existence, but true nature travelers should not miss the opportunity to visit this Alaskan delight.


Home to unique wildlife and the Brooks Range, the highest mountain in the arctic circle, the Gateways to the Arctic don’t hesitate to share its charm. The undeveloped character of this icy destination makes it an ideal meeting place for backcountry adventurers. However, tourists who just want an arctic experience shouldn’t worry because there’s a corner for everyone in this northern refuge.

Plan your visit: what to do when you arrive at the gates of Arctic National Park?

It is a wild winter wonderland, so tourists should not just be ready but looking forward when visiting the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Here is some basic information about the park.

  • The park is closed in winter, only opening its doors to tourists from June to the end of September from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  • There is no park entrance fee, but tourists are encouraged to visit the Visitor Center for orientation.
  • The Anaktuvuk Pass Ranger Station is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (April through September). 101


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Arctic Adventures in the northernmost national park in the United States

The Arctic Gates are beyond anyone’s comfort zone, but they are comfortable on their own. With its stunning scenery, it’s a cool destination, literally.

Backpacking and hiking

Backpackers are in for a treat in this Alaskan destination. As winter draws to a close, the Gateways to the Arctic are more than eager to welcome travelers. it is a challenge for them.

  • Since the Brooks range is simply there, it’s what most backpackers conquer. Trips for experienced hikers take more than a week, a strenuous but rewarding journey once they’ve seen the glacier spectacle.
  • A week-long trip to the rugged peaks of Arrigetch will take visitors to the different ecozones of the park. Upon reaching the subalpine zone, hikers will be treated to breathtaking scenery that only the Arctic can provide.
  • For packrafters, the Alatna River awaits. The waterway serves as the starting point of an Arrigetch adventure, and also its endpoint, the perfect place to cap off an Arctic escape.
  • Climbers can take on the challenge of Arrigetch, Mount Doonerak or Mount Igikpak.


Whatever journey backpackers take, they will be greeted by majestic ridges, breathtaking vistas and pristine rivers. Basically the best from Mother Nature. 159

Bird and Wildlife Watching

The warmth of the summer sun makes the park a home for various birds. Besides the winged buddies, the Arctic Gates also serve as a playground for bears, deer, and caribou, among others.

  • There are over 140 species of birds in the parksome of them can be seen from Anaktuvuk Pass, Coldfoot, Bettles and along the Dalton Road.
  • Some of the birds that can be spotted include hawks, eagles, kites, falcons, owls, gulls, terns, kingfishers, and warblers, among others.
  • Mammals also thrive in the area, such as busy beavers, boreal forest lynx, the ice age gift of musk ox, and towering brown bears.
  • Among the stars are caribou, which migrate through the Central Brooks Range – numbering more than 500,000 during the migration.
  • For botanical enthusiasts, the boreal forest is home to various plants such as spruce, birch and aspen. Meanwhile, the moss campion can be seen blooming in the tundra. 156


Camping and fishing

Since the park is undeveloped, there are no campgrounds, so it’s like Survivor there. Gravel bar camping is the name of the game at the gates of the Arctic, and pairing it with fishing makes for a satisfying day outdoors.

For the latter, as there is low productivity in the Arctic, catch and release fishing is encouraged, or anglers should keep what they can consume immediately. Anglers can tag trout, char, pike, whitefish, salmon, or goldfish in certain waterways. 77

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Arctic Attractions at the Doorstep of Arctic National Park

From the hospitable gateway villages to the mountains and waterways, everything is an attraction in the park. It is not a crowded destination, so tourists can have it all. 30


villages

There are four gateway villages to the park, each offering a warm welcome to curious adventurers. The locals have many stories to share, including perhaps one about the arrival of the tourist.

  • Anaktuvuk Pass, located inside the park, is the last remaining settlement of the Nunamiut. There is a rich subsistence culture in the city which can be learned at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum.
  • Home to just 23 people (2020 census)Bettles is located close to the park and is a great stopping point for an arctic adventure.
  • The booming gold rush towns of Coldfoot and Wiseman are always ready to welcome tourists. The former is known for its rest stops, while the latter is proud of its old log cabins. 118

Walker Lake and Scenic Rivers

Thanks to the Arctic, the park’s waterways are pristine. Add the scenic views and it’s still a great time in the lake and rivers.

  • The assemblage of plants around Walker Lake adds to the scenic beauty of this waterway. The lake appears calm, making it the perfect place to follow nature’s course. The John River is one of the most ideal waterways for paddling the Brooks Range.
  • Paddlers who want a bit of action can tackle the Class V rapids of the Kobuk River.
  • The Noatak, meanwhile, is up to those who want to float serenely since it is one of the longest wild rivers in Alaska.
  • Kayakers will be in for a treat along the North Fork of the Koyukuk River if they spot reindeer while paddling.
  • The Tinayguk River is for those who want to train as some parts of it are shallow while others have class II rapids.


From mountain ridges to scenic rivers, the Arctic Gateway National Park and Preserve knows how to spell adventure, and the alphabet isn’t enough to grasp what it has to offer.

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