Ready to take a journey into one of the most spectacular areas of the country? Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska, consists of a vast landscape free of any major roads or trails. As a visitor, you will have the opportunity to see wild rivers that run through glacier carved valleys and the summer light fading into the “aurora lit night skies of winter”.

During your trip, you will experience ecosystems that have been in existence for thousands of years and explore an area that is home to a vast array of wildlife. You might also catch a glimpse of caribou and grizzly bears that forage off of the land! Whether you plan to visit with friends, family or on your own, a trip to Gates of the Arctic provides an incredible opportunity to witness nature in its preserved and undisrupted form.

GatesofArctic

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Remote river in Gates of the Arctic) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to location information detailed below, our DriveTheNation.com team has also compiled some of our favorite activities to explore during your visit.

Adventures

Your visit wouldn’t be complete without an adventure! At Gates of the Arctic, you can float down rivers, embark on organized day trips, or venture on backpacking hikes with your family. In addition, you may also choose to spend the day fishing at an alpine lake, picnicking by one of the wild rivers, or watching the caribou migrate through the valleys.

Bird Watching

Gates of the Arctic is an excellent spot for bird watching, as it happens to be a favorite destination of many migratory birds. During the past 30 years, more than 145 different species of birds have been spotted. Common places to see the birds include Bettles, Anaktuvuk Pass, Coldfoot, and along the Dalton Highway. DTN Tip: Birds are more active in the morning. The earlier you start or the later you stay up, the more success you will have seeing birds.

GatesofArctic

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Where is Gates of the Arctic Located?

The Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is located in in Alaska, just north of the Arctic Circle. The Park and Preserve includes the Brooks Range, which is the northernmost part of the Rocky Mountains. To the south, you will find the boreal forest of Alaska’s interior. Combined, the Park and Preserve are four times the size of Yellowstone National Park!

This park is one that’s a little harder to reach (but always worth it!). Because it is a wilderness area you can’t drive into the park. You’ll want to take the two-lane gravel Dalton Highway which will put you within 5 miles of the park. Find out more about accessing the park with this helpful Visitors Guide!

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is open year round to visitors, but certain seasonal hours may apply. Be sure to call ahead to confirm hours of operations:

Bettles Ranger Station and Visitor Center
PO Box 26030
Bettles Field, AK 99726
(907) 692-5494

Open year round: From mid-June to the end of September: open 7 days a week, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. October through May: open Monday – Friday, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed on holidays.

Fairbanks Administrative Center
4175 Geist Road
Fairbanks, AK 99709
(907) 457-5752

Open year-round Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Closed on holidays.

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Coldfoot, Alaska, on the Dalton Highway
(907) 678-5209

Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 7 days a week, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Anaktuvuk Pass Ranger Station
Anaktuvuk Pass, AK
(907) 661-3520

Outside display is open year-round; call for summer ranger station hours.

Have you had a chance to visit Gates of the Arctic National Park? We’d love to hear from you! We invite you to share your experiences in the comment box below.

This article was updated 5/12/2015 based on information provided by Park Ranger DaleLynn Gardner.