This U.S. national park above the Arctic Circle is an adventurer’s dream

Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park features a rugged expanse of mountains, rivers, and wildlife.

In Gates of the Arctic National Park, Takahula Lake lies near the winding Alatna River. Because there are no roads in the park, visitors often travel by rivercraft.
Photograph by KILIII YÜYAN

Drawing fewer than 10,000 visitors a year—just a fraction of those at other U.S. national parks—this remote landscape lies in the Alaska interior, entirely above the Arctic Circle. Its more than 8.4 million acres give intrepid adventurers plenty of room to roam.

Established in 1980 to protect undeveloped land—including part of the Brooks Range—and subsistence use by Indigenous people, Gates of the Arctic National Park challenges even the hardiest of travelers. Since there are no roads, most visitors fly from the communities of Bettles, Coldfoot, or Anaktuvuk Pass, then journey on foot or by rivercraft, skis, or dogsled. Those without extensive backcountry experience should consider a guided trip.

The park’s dramatic vistas shelter a wide variety of animals. From May through July, the constant sunlight means endless viewing opportunities.

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