Backpacking Gates of the Arctic

A stunning, backpacking traverse through Alaska's central Brooks Range.

Backpacking Gates of the Arctic

$3600 per person

This route is a stunning, backpacking traverse through Alaska’s central Brooks Range.

Our Backpacking Gates of the Arctic trip takes place in Alaska’s Brooks Range in Gates of the Arctic National Park on the traditional and current lands of the Iñupiaq people.

This trip traverses the eastern portion of Gates of the Arctic National Park. Our small group will cross the continental divide of Alaska’s Brooks Range as we backpack from the Nunamiut village of Anaktuvuk Pass to the the Dalton Highway. Along the way we’ll cross braided rivers and alpine streams. We’ll keep our eyes open for the various types of wildlife that call this place home, including grizzly bears, wolverines, caribou, moose, dozens of varieties of birds, wolves and a multitude of smaller, though no less charismatic, species. We will travel over river beds, tundra, on caribou trails and steep loose rocks. As we approach the Dalton Highway, we’ll navigate through some moderately dense brush.

We will spend each day on foot, traversing this beautiful National Park with all of our necessities in our backpacks. We’ll spend our evenings and mornings beneath the cook tarp enjoying the camaraderie of backcountry travel. Be prepared for your backpack to weigh 35-45 pounds. We’ll travel 5-8 hours per day over trail-less terrain. Daily mileage will range from 8-12 miles with elevation gain/loss between 500′-4000′ per day. Because this trip utilizes a regularly scheduled “mail plane”, it is a relatively low-carbon adventure when compared to trips that utilize chartered bush flights. We offset the carbon from our flight to Anaktuvuk Pass from Fairbanks.

Non-Profit Partner: The Northern Alaska Environmental Center

Prior to the trip, participants will have a chance to learn about the Northern Alaska Environmental Center’s Clean Water and Mining Program which works to oppose the proposed road to the Ambler Mining district which would cross Gates of the Arctic National Park. A significant monetary donation will be make to the Northern Alaska Environmental Center in honor of this trip. Learn more about our non-profit partner program on our Why Us page.

Is this the trip for you? Fill out our Trip Interest Form. Not sure yet? Explore the Tour Plan, Gallery and Location tabs above.

  • Destination
  • Departure
  • Dress Code
  • Included
    Food While In The Wilderness
    Lodging on Night One of Your Trip (Location Varies by Trip)
    Professional Guide Service
    Roundtrip Transportation from Your Trip's Departure City (Typically Anchorage or Fairbanks)
    Safety & Repair Gear
    Stoves, Cooking & Eating Utensils
    Water Filter
  • Not Included
    Additional Food or Meals (beyond those described in the itinerary)
    Additonal Hotel Nights (beyond any described in the itinerary)
    Alcoholic Beverages
    Guide Gratuities
    Personal Clothing & Equipment
Day 1 - Arrive in Fairbanks
Arrive in Fairbanks any time before 4pm this day. Check into our hotel - details will be in your pre-trip information email. We'll meet at 4pm as a group to get to know one another, go over your equipment, pick out snacks(!), distribute personal and group gear that you will be carrying and review our route. We will plan to wrap up by 7pm to ensure plenty of time for you to enjoy a tasty dinner in Fairbanks, grab any last minute items you may have forgotten (Fairbanks does have an REI and other small gear shops) and get a good night's rest before we depart for the backcountry.
Meals included: none; Accommodations: Hotel in Fairbanks
Day 2 - Depart for the Backcountry
This morning we'll gather for an early group breakfast at our hotel in Fairbanks before departing for the airport. At the Fairbanks airport we'll board the "mail plane" bound for Anaktuvuk Pass. After landing in Anaktuvuk Pass, we'll don our backpacks and head east into Gates of the Arctic National Park. We will see our first big challenge of the trip - a crossing over the Anaktuvuk River. After our crossing we will travel several miles up the river valley before making camp for the night.
Meals included: all; Accommodations: tents
Days 3-8 - Friday, June 21st - Backcountry Travel
We'll continue to travel eastward through Gates of the Arctic National Park, crossing rivers, streams and precipitous mountain passes along the way. We'll camp next to crystalline lakes and along alpine streams. We'll enjoy cozy evenings under the cook tent and fresh coffee or tea each morning. While we will be hoping for clear skies, we'll travel the country regardless of the weather, be it rain, snow or sunshine. Some days, we might see all three!
Meals included: all; Accommodations: tents
Day 9 - Backcountry to Wiseman, AK
By the end of this day, we will have descended from the alpine, through some moderate brush and finally down to the boreal forest along the Dalton Highway. Our ride will us from the shoulder of the road where we emerge and deliver us to our home for the night, a cozy lodge/B&B in Wiseman, Alaska. We will have certainly earned our hot showers and a hearty meal!
Meals included: all; Accommodations: Rustic Lodge/B&B
Day 10 - Return to Fairbanks
After a delicious breakfast, we'll begin heading south back to Fairbanks. Our travels via the Dalton Highway will take between 7-10 hours, depending on the road conditions. We'll stop along the way for fuel, bathroom stops and photo opportunities. If returning home this day, please schedule flights for after 8pm to allow for any unexpected delays. Better yet, if your schedule allows, give yourself a couple of days to explore Fairbanks and beyond to see a little more of what Alaska has to offer. We are happy to suggest additional adventures and destinations if you are able to stay and explore more of Alaska.
Meals included: breakfast; Accommodations: none

About Gates of the Arctic National Park

The area of public land currently known as Gates of the Arctic National Park occupies the historical and current lands of the Iñupiaq, Koyukon and Gwich'in people of Alaska. Gates of the Arctic National Park is the 2nd largest National Park and was created by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980. Gates of the Arctic is currently threatened by the planned development of an industrial road to access the Ambler Mining District.

Ready to Join this Trip?

  1. Fill out the Trip Interest Form.
  2. We will get in touch with you to discuss the trip.
  3. Confirm your participation with a trip deposit.
    • What if the trip has not yet met the minimum number of two guests? Pay your deposit per usual. If the trip does not meet it's minimum by 30 days prior to departure, you have three options: a. Pay a premium for a private and/or below-minimum trip b. Transfer your deposit to another Tundra Travels trip c. Receive a full refund of your deposit
  4. Prepare by downloading the Personal Equipment Checklist, commit to a physical training plan if necessary and stock up on some books and podcasts from our recommended list to get stoked.
  5. Book your flights and pre- and post-trip accommodations.
  6. Stay in touch with any questions that come to mind!