By establishing Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve (GAAR) in Alaska's
Brooks Range, Congress has reserved a vast and essentially
untouched area of superlative natural beauty and exceptional scientific
value - a maze of glaciated valleys and gaunt, rugged mountains covered
with boreal forest and arctic tundra vegetation, cut by wild rivers, and
inhabited by far-ranging populations of caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and
bears (barren-ground grizzlies and black bears). Congress recognized that
a special value of the Park and Preserve is its wild and undeveloped character,
and the opportunities it affords for solitude, wilderness travel, and
adventure. Gates of the Arctic encompasses several congressionally
recognized elements, including the national park, national preserve, wilderness, six Wild Rivers and two National Natural Landmarks. The National Park Service is entrusted to manage this area to protect its physical resources and to maintain the intangible qualities of the wilderness and the opportunity it provides
for people to learn and renew its values.
on Gates of the Arctic National Park
Operating Hours for Gates of the Arctic National Park
June-August, Visitor Center Hours 8:00a-7:00p; Winter Visitor Center Hours 8-4:30 (September through May). Closed winter Holidays.
How to Get to Gates of the Arctic National
How to Fly to Gates of the Arctic National Park by Plane - Scheduled air taxis from Fairbanks serve Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles, and Coldfoot. Charter flights may also be arranged. Bush charters are available from Bettles and Coldfoot into the park and preserve boundaries. Travelers to Anaktuvuk Pass can hike into the park and preserve boundaries, but anticipate covering no more than one mile per hour.
How to Drive to Gates of the Arctic National Park- There are no roads in the park, although the Dalton Highway comes within about 5 miles of the park's eastern boundary. Other than hiking in from the Dalton Highway (across one or two rivers then over the mountain passes, normally at a maximum rate of one mile per hour) access is generally by air.
Weather & Climate
The central Brooks Range has long, severe winters and relatively short, cool summers. The entire region receives continuous sunlight during the summer for at least 30 days. Conversely, winter visitors will experience long, cold periods of darkness and twilight.
The south side of the Brooks Range below 2,500 feet is generally a sub-arctic climate zone. Precipitation is low, averaging 12-18 inches in the west and 8-12 inches in the east. Snow can fall any months of the year, averaging 60-80 inches. The average maximum and minimum July temperatures are 70F and 46F, respectively. Thunderstorm activity is common during June and July, and June through September is generally the wettest time of year. Prevailing winds are out of the north. Freezing temperatures may occur at any time of the year, but particularly from mid-August on. Average minimum and maximum January temperatures are -10F and -30F but frequently reach -50F.
The north side of the Brooks Range has an arctic climate. Mean annual temperatures are colder than on the south side. Maximum and minimum February temperatures range from 33F to -47F. The warmest month, July, has a 60F maximum and 40F minimum. Precipitation is extremely light, about 5-10 inches per year, making this essentially an "arctic desert". Snow has been recorded in every month of the year, and the annual average is 45 inches. Prevailing winds are greatly modified by local terrain.
There are no roads or established trails within the Gates of the Arctic NP&P. Hikers should practice Leave No Trace techniques, be aware of backcountry safety guidelines, and remain aware of the fragile ecosystems and private lands within the park. Gates of the Arctic is a remote wilderness and travelers should be fully competent in outdoor survival skills and flexible enough to deal with common weather delays. Administrative buildings in Fairbanks, Anaktuvuk Pass, Coldfoot and Bettles are accessible.
Where to Stay at
Gates of the Arctic National Park
Camping at Gates of the Arctic National
There are no established campgrounds within the park, however you can practice wilderness camping anywhere within the park.
Activities and More Information
Gates of the Arctic NP&P is one of several conservation units located in the Brooks Range. Many of these units offer the opportunity for extreme wilderness recreation activities such as: backpacking, river running, mountaineering, dog mushing, and others. The remote location and extreme climate of the Brooks Range requires travelers to have exceptionally strong wilderness skills and flexibility to adjust plans. The Dalton Highway offers a road accessible Brooks Range experience for those seeking a rugged wilderness journey on a limited budget. A required backcountry orientation program for recreational travelers is offered at the Bettles Ranger Station, Coldfoot Visitor Center, and Anaktuvuk Pass Ranger Station. Backcountry users not passing through one of these locations must contact the Bettles Ranger Station prior to their visit.
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