Of the 8.5 million acres of land in Gates of the Arctic National Park, every single one of them lies north of the Arctic Circle. This massive, mountain strewn swath of land is larger than all of Belgium—yet scarcely more than 10,000 people end up visiting the park each year. It’s a place where caribou, grizzly bear, and moose roam free across hundreds of miles, and time seems to stop—or rather, not matter—when all you can hear is silence. Grandiose in its isolation, this park is truly a wilderness outpost for adventurous backcountry explorers, and offers a look at an ecosystem still largely free of man’s touch. The rivers, mountains, wetlands, and wildlife merge just as nature intended, and the best way to see it is with guided day trips that help you to fish the pristine rivers and breathe the fresh mountain air.
Despite the park’s enormous size, there aren’t any roads, signmarked trails - or even a proper visitor center. The Visitor Center is way back in Fairbanks, and trips begin with a short flight to Bettles or Anaktuvuk Pass. From here, float trips and day trips venture into the park—which has no backcountry lodging—though isolated cabins and lodging options exist just outside the boundaries. Since bugs can be brutal in the middle in summer, be sure to pack repellent.
Did You Know? There are 30 straight days of sunlight in summer, and the maximum temperature is above 70 degrees for most of the month of July.