Where is Gates of the Arctic National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park is the northernmost national park in the United States. The entire area of the national park sits above the arctic circle. Gates of the Arctic National Park sits upon the Brooks Mountain Range in Northern Alaska. The park is widely considered to be one of the most remote locations included in the National Park System. The national park contains no roads or facilities. The park's headquarters is located in Fairbanks, Alaska. Beetles, Alaska is the closest city to Gates of the Arctic National Park, and the national park sits over 250 miles and a five-and-a-half-hour drive north of Fairbanks. Over 612 miles and a 11-and-a-half-hour drive north of the National Park is Anchorage, Alaska.
How Large is Gates of the Arctic National Park
Gates of the Arctic US National Park is the second largest national park in the United States. The park is only rivaled in size by Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Gates of the Arctic National Park covers a total area of more than 8,472,000 acres. A large portion of this area receives additional protection as the Gates of the Arctic Wilderness. This wilderness area covers over six million acres. Together with the adjoining Noatak Wilderness, the Gates of the Arctic Wilderness comprises the largest wilderness area left in the United States. Mostly because of the park’s remoteness, Gates of the Arctic National Park receives very little visitation relative to other national parks in the system. Visitation in 2018 was under 10,000 visitors.
Gates of the Arctic National Park Weather
The climate of Gates of the Arctic National Park is considered to be a Subarctic climate by the Koppen Climate Classification System. Locations equipped with this climate are expected to have cool summers and deep and brutal winters. Temperatures in December, January, and February consistently approach lows of negative thirty-degree Fahrenheit. The all-time low temperature recorded in the park was -42.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers in the park bring temperatures that fluctuate between 40- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit. Snowfall in the park should always be expected.
When did Gates of the Arctic Become a National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park was first designated as a national monument before being redesignated as a national park. The area received its designation as a monument in 1978 , and then its designation as a national park in 1980 through the Alaska National Interest Lands Act. President Jimmy Carter expressed his rights via the Antiquities Act and created the national monument in 1978. However, protection of the area had been considered since the early 1960’s. Critical attention was even garnished by several individuals who tried to persuade president Lyndon B. Johnson to utilize his powers under the Antiquities Act.
Things to do in Gates of the Arctic National Park
Visitors brave enough to venture into the isolation that is Gates of the Arctic National Park will be blessed with splendid views of the Brooks Range and acres of undisturbed wilderness. More information on hiking, backpacking, and other activity opportunities found in Gates of the Arctic National Park is discussed below.
Know Before You Go
Gates of the Arctic National Park contains no roads, no trails, and no established facilities. The park is designed to remain untouched and unchanged while simultaneously promoting exploration and discovery. Visitors traveling to the park should be extremely skilled in areas related to outdoor survival and wilderness training. In an extreme situation, visitors of the park should be able to protect and maintain their own life and the lives of other people in their party with no help assistance. Visitors must also hike or fly into the park since there are no roads. Daily flights leave from Fairbanks. However, these flights can be delayed frequently due to inclement weather. All visitors traveling to the park should pack additional supplies in case of an emergency or delayed flight leaving the park.
Hiking & Backpacking in the Park
Since there are no maintained hiking or backpacking trails in Gates of the Arctic National Park visitors are encouraged and allowed to explore across the total eight million acres the park contains. However, visitors should also be aware of how to properly travel within the park. Several ecosystems in the park are very delicate and can be harmed by the slightest human touch. Visitors hiking in the park should always try to limit the impact they have on the park’s ecosystem and larger environment. Visitors hiking or backpacking in the park should also be comfortable using a map and compass to navigate. A topographic map is essential to safe and successful park navigation.
Fishing in Gates of the Arctic National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park contains a diverse selection of lakes, rivers, and streams. Most of these bodies of water continue several species of freshwater fish that can be targeted by anglers. The park recognizes that this food source can be essential during a backcountry camping trip, but the park also wishes to prevent the overharvesting of any one species. When not being immediately consumed visitors are urged to practice catch and release fishing practices. A valid Alaska state freshwater fishing license is also required to fish anywhere with Gates of the Arctic National Park. Fishing licenses can be obtained from several retailers in Bettles, Fairbanks, and online directly from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Wildlife Viewing in the National Park
The wildlife of Gates of the Arctic National Park is abundant and diverse. Chances are that individuals of any species spotted deep within the park have never been spotted by a human before. Mammalian species found across the park’s eight million acres include Caribou, Dall’s Sheep, Coyotes, Moose, Muskox, Gray Wolves, Wolverines, Red Foxes, weasels, ermines, otters, and several others. Gates of the Arctic National Park also provides a home to an impressive list of migratory avian species including several species of gulls, hawks, ducks, mergansers, and songbirds.
Camping in Gates of the Arctic National Park
Camping in Gates of the Arctic National Park requires significant planning and consideration. There are no designated campsites, and visitors will need to find a place each night that will provide them with protection from the elements. Visitors camping in the park should also look to leave the smallest impact they can on the park’s landscape. Camps should be moved every 2-3 days to avoid permanently harming the area’s vegetation.
When to Visit Gates of the Arctic National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park should ideally be visited during the summer months of June, July, and August. The rest of the area can be considerably more dangerous as seasonal snowstorms bombard the Brooks Range. Even visitors who decided to plan a trip to the park during summer should be prepared to face an unpredictable storm or weather event. The Gates of the Arctic National Park landscape is breathtaking and beautiful, but also incredibly unforgiving.
Must Have Items to Bring to Gates of the Arctic National Park
Packing and planning for a trip to Gates of the Arctic National Park is a delicate balance. Visitors planning to travel to the national park will need to bring all of the supplies they will need at the park with them onto their flight into the area. These flights can also only carry so much weight so visitors should also be aware that they are not bringing any extra or unneeded supplies. The following list of items is by no means exhaustive, but it should provide you with a good start.
Topographic Map & Compass
A topographic map is a detailed map that includes shaded sections that represent different elevations and geographic and man-made structures. A topographic map and working compass are essential for navigation in Gates of the Arctic National Park. In some cases these maps are more essential than water and food.
Water, Food, & Extra
Visitors planning to spend several days in Gates of the Arctic National Park should bring all of the food and water they will need during their stay with them to the park. Visitors should also bring a couple extra days’ worth of rations in case of an emergency or their fight out of the park is delayed by inclement weather.
First Aid Kit
Gates of the Arctic National Park is a designated wilderness area. Accidents happen, the best way to remain safe in the park is to avoid major accidents and immediately handle minor ones. A first aid kit is critical for backcountry survival.
All visitors should travel to Gates of the Arctic National Park with two sources of ignition. A fire will not only allow adventures to cook their meals every night, but it can also provide protection and warmth in the event of an emergency or critical situation.
Due to the park’s location north of the Arctic circle, cell phones will not work within Gates of the Arctic National Park. Satellite phones are a great item to carry into the park’s backcountry. They can be used to summon a rescue team in the event of an emergency or to check in on changing weather conditions.
Bear-Resistant Food Containers
All visitors staying overnight in Gates of the Arctic National Park are required to store their food in bear proof containers. Visitors who do not have their own container can receive one from any of the park’s visitor centers free of charge.
Where to Stay in Gates of the Arctic National Park
Visitors looking to camp within Gates of the Arctic National Park should be prepared to be completely self-sufficient. These visitors should also be well versed in wilderness survival and first aid techniques. Camping in the national park is not regulated and should be done at the discretion of the individuals. Gravel beds are a great place to set up camp in an attempt to harm the environment as little as possible. However, visitors should make sure their camp is above the waterline, morning snowmelt or other weather activities can cause your camp to be flooded.
Food Near Gates of the Arctic National Park
There are no food opportunities near Gates of the Arctic National Park. Few supplies can be found in Bettles. However, most will need to be purchased in Anchorage before arriving at Gates of the Arctic National Park.
Airports Near Gates of the Arctic National Park
The closest airport to Gates of the Arctic National Park is located in Fairbanks, Alaska. From this international airport individuals traveling to the park can purchase a ticket for a charter plane that will take them to the park.