Basic Information


Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve was created to preserve and protect 8.4 million acres of the diverse arctic ecosystems of Alaska's central Brooks Range. It is acknowledged as the premier Wilderness park in the national park system and serves as the headwaters for six Wild Rivers.

It protects a functioning arctic, mountain ecosystem in its entirety and provides habitat of world importance for naturally occurring plant and animal populations.In consultation with local rural residents Gates of the Arctic protects habitats and resources to provide subsistence opportunities on lands that have supported traditional cultures and local residents.

While the park provides visitors with opportunities for solitude and challenging wilderness adventures within a remote and vast arctic landscape, it also preserves and supports a 12,000-year record of human cultural adaptations to high latitude mountain environments and an unbroken tradition of living on the land. While it may seem untouched, you are not the first one to travel here.

That said, traveling in a remote wilderness park requires visitors to be self sufficient and flexible.
You're on your own. This is the number one message preserve visitors must know and apply to their visit to Gates of the Arctic. There is no cell phone service and there are no amenities or services in the preserve. When you depart Fairbanks, Bettles, or Coldfoot, you may not see another person until your return to civilization or your pilot comes to pick you up. Visitors must be self-reliant and able to execute self-extraction and communication, should an emergency situation arise.


Read our Backcountry Trip Planning Guide in preparation for your trip. If your trip involves hiking or crossing waterways, from small creeks to major rivers, read our Backcountry River Crossing Guide to learn safe techniques to get you to the other side and back again.

Write and leave a detailed trip plan with friends & family and describe to them what you are doing, where you are going, and what to do if you do not return by a certain date. Make sure they understand the inherent unpredictability of remote Alaskan transportation in regards to weather. Leave a trip plan at home, bring one with you, and leave another with your pilot, if you are flying.


If you are relying on air travel for your visit, be aware that air taxis are often times unable to fly in inclement weather. Bring a few extra days of food and allow for 'weather days' in your trip plan to accommodate poor weather. Learn more about air transportation to public lands in Alaska and how to charter aircraft.

Many visitors to Gates of the Arctic travel by boat during the fall hunting season. Learn about Hunting in the Preserve and Floating Rivers to learn more about planning a successful and enjoyable trip to the preserve.


Unlike many other satellite communication tools which operate on satellites that do not provide reliable service as far north as Gates of the Arctic, satellite phones are an excellent method of two-way communication in Alaska's backcountry, as they function on satellites that orbit the earth north to south and vice versa, providing excellent coverage in Alaska's wilderness areas. Consider renting a satellite phone in Fairbanks before your trip to the preserve.

Land Ethics

Follow the wilderness ethic of others and leave this wild land as you found it, or better, for future generations. Learn how to do this by reading about Leave No Trace in Alaska's Backcountry. Visitors in the park must practice minimum impact camping techniques by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, follow backcountry safety guidelines, and be aware of the fragile ecosystems and private lands within the park.

Bear Safety

Explore the National Park Service's staying safe in bear country website to learn safe and responsible practices for recreating on Alaska's wild lands. You can also learn more about bear safety through the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers' bear safety page.

Bear-resistant food containers are required for your overnight visit to Gates of the Arctic and are provided free of charge at the Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles, Coldfoot, and Fairbanks Visitor Centers. No reservations can be taken as they are provided first come, first serve. Gates of the Arctic provides both steel drum BRFCs with locking lids for river travel and backpacker BRFCs.

If you are hiking, packrafting, or kayaking in Gates of the Arctic, you can also visit the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Fairbanks to borrow a backpacker BRFC. Be aware these backpacker barrels are rented for hiking, packrafting, and kayaking only, where the large steel BRFCs are impossible to use.

For more links on safety and planning your trip to Gates of the Arctic, visit the Fairbanks Alaska Centers website.


Last updated: January 29, 2024

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