If you are looking for one of the most remote areas in North America, consider a trip to Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve located in the northern Alaska area of Bettles. This park exists to protect some portions of the Brooks Range. The park is special for many reasons, including being the northernmost National Park, existing completely within the Arctic Circle, and covering over eight million acres. Since Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is so remote it is the least visited park out of all that exist within the US National Parks system with only 10,000 people a year making the journey to it.
The history of humans living in and around the area dates back to over 13,000 years ago when nomadic hunters and gatherers traveled between the forested slopes of the mountains and the Arctic Coast. The area was named by wilderness advocate Robert Marshall who traveled frequently to the area from 1929 to 1939. He called the two peaks Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain and coined them the gates from Alaska's central Brooks Range into the far north Arctic.
Due to the remote location of the park there are next to no amenities available. There are no roads, trails, visitor centers, rental facilities or campgrounds so if you plan on visiting it be prepared to have an off-grid and very primitive park visit. The park is completely undeveloped so the recreational activities all around the great outdoors. These include birding, off-trail hiking, fishing, and hunting.
Tent camping is allowed within any area of the park, however there are no sites specifically set up for camping and there is no road access within the park. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is open all year round, but during the winter time you will not be able to access the park.
Getting to and from Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is difficult due to its remote north Alaskan location and the fact that there are no roads inside the park. There is only one road that leads visitors to the park (the Dalton Highway) however you will not be able to take this road into the park. The best bet for RV travelers is to take the Dalton Highway just past the tiny village of Wiseman and then explore the park from there.
Since you are in rural Alaska there will be no shops offering supplies and amenities for many, many miles on your journey up to the park. Plan your trip carefully and make sure you have enough gas, food, and other supplies to last you your whole trip so you don't get stuck. The closest city to the park is Fairbanks (which is also the largest area city in the interior region of Alaska.
There are no paved parking areas within Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve but you are allowed to park wherever you want as long as it is not on private property.
There are no public transportation options that will take you to Gates of the Arctic National Park.
The camping situation at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is a little different since there is no actual campground or roads anywhere in the park. You are welcome to camp in the fields as long as you do not disturb the small community who call the park home. Since there are no roads or amenities your camping experience will be very primitive as you will not have any running water, restrooms or a dump station for you to use.
Pets are allowed within the park and it will be hard to find any cell phone reception due to the northern location.
If you do decide to camp at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve remember to take all of your rubbish with you and leave no trace that you were there. The summer months are the best time to camp once all of the ice has melted and the sun is shining.
If you love to paddle then you will love the untouched waters available for you to explore within Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. There are a total of six National Wild and Scenic Rivers (Alatna, John, Kobuk, Noatak, North Fork Koyukuk, and Tinayguk) available for you to explore at your own pace during your visit to the park.
Remember that there are no rentals available so you must bring all of your own equipment if you want to hit the water.
Thanks to the near endless summer sunlight, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is one of the premier summer destinations for many migratory birds. A total of 145 species of birds have been seen in the Park and Preserve throughout the last 30 years, including aquatic birds, raptors, and song birds. Bird watching can be done at any location in the park but is often best near the rivers or in the forests.
If you are an experienced rock climber you will be happy to note that there are some places within Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve that are suitable for you to check out.
The Arrigetch Peaks, Mount Doonerak and Mount Igikpak areas of the park will be the best places for you to do some rock climbing as the terrain is quite steep. Please note that no fixed anchors are allowed within any area of Gates of the Arctic National Park and you must bring your own equipment and clean up after you finish.
While there are no marked trails within Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve there are over eight million acres that are ripe for exploration. Since there are no staff present at the park we recommend that you bring some very detailed maps and prepare yourself for these wilderness adventures.
This park is only recommended for experienced hikers who are traveling in groups. Remember to pack all water and food you will need in your day bag before you set out hiking.
Fishing lovers rejoice! Once the ice has melted there are plenty of great fishing spots for you to check out within the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. While it can be a pain to have to lug your fishing gear around it is worth it for the chance to land a big one out here in the Alaskan wilderness.
You can catch all of the standard Arctic fish within the park, including shee, arctic grayling, northern pike, and chum salmon. Using lures is more common than live bait and the lures are also much easier to transport.
If you are interested in hunting at the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve you are in luck. Sport hunting and trapping are permitted in preserve area, however you are not allowed to sport hunt or trap within Gates of the Arctic National Park.
State regulations apply for those wanting to hunt and you must have all the required licenses and permits. Bag and possession limits vary by species and by area so we recommend that you check the current Alaska state hunting regulations before you begin your journey to the park.