Gates of the Arctic National Park

Alaska

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is located in northern Alaska, covering an area of over 8.4 million acres. It is America’s second-largest national park, as well as the northernmost national park in the United States, situated entirely north of the Arctic Circle. The region boasts six scenic rivers, glacier-carved valleys, and aurora-lit night skies, attracting over 11,000 visitors in 2017. What sets this national park apart from others is its sheer remoteness. Here, there are no marked roads or trails and the traditional lifestyles of those who once lived in the Brooks Range are almost completely preserved. Additionally, the only way to enter the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is to fly in or hike.

Despite its seemingly inhospitable nature, the land we know today as Gates of the Arctic has hosted human life since time immemorial. Inupiaq and Athabascan peoples traveled over this rough terrain, hunting and gathering, as small nearby communities still do, and the caribou that live here have sustained Nunamiut Eskimos, Eskimo people of the Kobuk and Noatak Rivers, and Koyukon Indians for more than 11,000 years. Learn more about the indigenous history of this national park here.

When it comes to the weather in this area, winter is long, lasting from September to May. Winter temperatures range anywhere from 0 to -50 F, however, visitors can expect snow and freezing conditions to happen in every month of the year. A short, cool summer occurs between June -August, which is when the park receives most of its visitors. During this time, the average temperature is around 50 F, resulting in generally ice-free rivers and less precipitation.

Due to its far north location, there are hardly any towns or villages interwoven into the national park, nor are there many on its outskirts. Anaktuvuk Pass is a small city found within the region and some very remote towns do exist further out, including Wiseman, Coldfoot, Kobuk, and Bettles.

There are no scheduled events at Gates of the Arctic, but when it comes to in-park activities, you will be spoilt for choice. These include backpacking, hiking, bird-watching, camping, swimming or floating down the rivers, flightseeing trips, and hunting. Many people visit the region to experience the unique solitude it has to offer, as well as to put their own survival skills to the test.

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Weather
Spring -20 F
Summer 18-70 F
Fall -1-30 F
Winter -50-0 F
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Nearby Cities
Fairbanks, AK
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Gates of the Arctic National Park

There are no designated campsites in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, as camping usually takes place in conjunction with other recreational activities (such as hiking, backpacking, etc.). The National Park Service advises visitors to camp only on durable surfaces in places where it’s safe to do so (i.e. well above current water levels). For information regarding site selection and camp setup, clickhere.

If you’d prefer to stay in an established campground rather than backcountry camping, there are some options near the region, which we’ve listed below.

Restaurants

What to Do at
Gates of the Arctic National Park

If the immense solitude of the Gates of the Arctic has got you craving a restaurant meal, shopping trip, museum visit, or sightseeing adventure, then you’re in luck. Despite the park’s location, there are still some fun activities to do within Alaska that will have you back among humanity in no time.

Due to the remote nature of the national park, some of these places may require a few hours of travel, however, they’re certainly worth the trip

Restaurants

Despite being so far from civilization, you can still grab a delicious meal or bite to eat in one of the nearest major cities, Fairbanks. Here, you’ll find all sorts of cuisines and specialties. Our top 5 recommendations are listed below.

The Pump House Restaurant

Type: Comfort food

Location: Fairbanks

Seoul Gate Restaurant

Type: Korean

Location: Fairbanks

Aloha BBQ Grill

Type: Hawaiian

Location: Fairbanks

Oasis Restaurant & Lounge

Type: Comfort food

Location: Fairbanks

Fuji Japanese Restaurant

Type: Japanese

Location: Fairbanks

Shopping

Need to pick up some camping supplies before you enter the wilderness? Or are you simply craving some retail therapy? Whatever your reason, you’re sure to find a bounty of interesting shops in Fairbank

Arctic Travelers Gift Shop

Location: Fairbanks

Craft Market Gift Shop and Craft Supplies

Location: Fairbanks

Gavora Mall

Location: Fairbanks

REI

Location: Fairbanks

Old Navy

Location: Fairbanks

Museums

If severe weather is preventing you from accessing the national park (or you just want a fun and educational experience that you’ll never forget), then there are also plenty of museums within Alaska that’ll take your fancy.

Aurora Ice Museum

Location: Fairbanks

Pioneer Air Museum

Location: Fairbanks

Sightseeing

Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of the largest national parks within America, so there’s sure to be plenty of sightseeing opportunities within the park to keep you entertained for days (if not, weeks). When traveling to or from the area, however, we recommend that you keep your eyes out for the following intriguing landmarks.

Gobbler’s Knob
Arctic Circle Sign
Finger Mountain
Creamers Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge
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How to Get to
Gates of the Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic is a wilderness park, with no roads or trails into the parklands, so visitors must fly or hike into the park.

By plane

The nearest airport with major airline service and car rental is in Fairbanks, a 277-mile drive of more than 11 hours on the Dalton Highway. Most visitors take a charter flight from Fairbanks or coordinate with a private air taxi to reach the park.

There are several small airlines in Fairbanks that provide daily flights into the gateway communities of Bettles, Anaktuvuk Pass, and Coldfoot, allowing visitors to backpack from here to the national park and preserve if they wish.

By RV

Alternatively, you can drive or rent an RV to take you through Alaska, before parking at a campground in Fairbanks or Cold Foot and making the rest of the journey via plane (as RVs and vehicles are unable to gain access to the remote park). This is perfect for those not wishing to rough it in the region’s backcountry and who simply wish to visit the national park just for a day. If you don’t own an RV, RV rentals are available across the country.

View RV Rentals

Entering Gates of the Arctic National Park

No fees, passes, or registration is required to enter the park, however, visitors are requested to stop at one of the following visitor centers to attend a backcountry orientation:

Anaktuvuk Pass Ranger Station

Bettles Visitor Center

Coldfoot Interagency Visitor Center

Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center

We are so excited that you’re planning a trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park, America’s second-largest national park. At RVshare, it’s our passion to help people get outdoors amongst Mother Nature and to experience her beauty firsthand. RVing is a wonderful way to experience the world around us and to turn the journey to the national park into its very own adventure. Whether you visit northern Alaska in an RV rental from us or not, we still want to hear all about your trip to this remote part of the world! Send us photos at [email protected] or tag us on social media and be sure to share any amazing details you want others to know about your experience. You’ll even have a chance to be featured on our blog or social media channels!