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Main Activities: Hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, wildlife observation, horsepacking, winter snowmachining.
Gateway Towns/Getting There: Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles/via scheduled air service; Wiseman, Atigun Pass/via Dalton Highway. Park access: direct overland foot travel from Dalton Highway; charter air service to drop-offs from Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles, and Fairbanks.
Facilities, Camping, Lodging: Administration office in Anaktuvuk Pass. Primitive camping only. Limited commercial facilities in Anaktuvuk Pass.
Headquarters and Information: Headquarters, 201 First Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701, 456-0281; Bettles Ranger Station, 692-5494; Anaktuvuk Pass Ranger Station, 661-3520; www.nps.gov/gaar.
Situated entirely north of the Arctic Circle across the central Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic is the second-largest unit of the national park system after WrangellSt. Elias. The park is characterized by rugged peaks with few glaciers, isolated, well-drained valleys, wild rivers, and numerous lakes. The southern slopes are forested to about 2,000 feet, while the high country and northern slopes fall from barren ridges to sheltered brushlands and tundra. Parts of six national wild rivers are within the park and preserve, including the Alatna, John, Kobuk, part of the Noatak, the north fork of the Koyukuk, and the Tinayguk. The Killik River is also good for float trips. Together with adjacent Kobuk Valley National Park and Noatak National Preserve, Gates of the Arctic constitutes one of the largest park areas in the world.
Visitors most commonly come to backpack through the high valleys and passes or to raft or kayak the rivers. Access is generally by air from Fairbanks to Bettles and Anaktuvuk Pass, or via charter drop-off to lakes, gravel bars, or airstrips. The Dalton Highway comes within about 5 miles of the park, though there are no roads at all within park boundaries. You can save bushflight costs if your backpack trips into the park begin or end at the Dalton Highway or Anaktuvuk Pass. John and Tinayguk River trips can end in Bettles (see the appendix for air service and outfitter listings, or consult the park headquarters).
Gates of the Arctic is strictly a wilderness park; travelers should be fully competent in outdoor skills. A backcountry registration program may be in operation by the time you arrive. Contact the Bettles Ranger Station before you begin hikes or river runs. Reservations are recommended for all visitor services from area businesses. Several outfitters, guides, and air services offer trips and route advice (see the Appendix).
Visitors must be completely self-reliant. Consult your bush pilot or outfitter, as well as refuge officials.