Gates of the Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic NP is slightly smaller than Switzerland and is one of the most remote national parks in the US with no access roads to enter or defined trails within its boundaries.

arctic landscape

As a bonus:

Zero amenities and no park rangers. But a very cool visitors center outside Coldfoot.

arctic visitors center

Park Access

To access the park one must either fly, hike (bush whack) or pack raft in on one of several waterways. The other way is dog sled in the winter!

I couldn’t book a flight to land and explore, as the only company that flew out of Coldfoot was booked solid.

A multi-day raft or hike was also out of the question based on logistics and the need for an experienced guide (this is not a go solo park). As it was summer, the dogs were on hiatus.

Via Dalton Highway

The highway parallels the eastern boundary of the park and it is possible to hike into the park from the road access points (again bush whacking and logistics). The Dalton runs through some spectacular scenery and many incredible vistas of the Gates of the Arctic are visible from the road.

arctic landscape

Via Abandoned Mining Road

Outside of Wiseman, where I was staying as my Arctic basecamp, there is an abandoned mining road that leads to a trailhead that goes to the park. I found the road via google map searches and confirmed with the lodge owner at Wiseman that it goes where I thought it did.

I was advised against going as the road is not maintained, steep, muddy and washed out. So with this knowledge I set out to get as close to the park as possible.

After several miles of muddy rutted out roads and at least one washed out section from late spring snow run off, I had to turn around, as I had no 4×4 recovery gear in this rental. if it was my Bronco I would have continued.

Getting stuck was not an option. Hiking back to Wiseman would be hours through bear country … along the way I saw fresh bear tracks and scat.

Based on GPS coordinates from my Garmin Inreach Explorer + I got within 2 miles from the park’s physical boundaries.

Interactive map

closest location the park boundary based on GPS coordinates

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply