Backpacking the Arctic Refuge

A journey along braided rivers and across alpine tundra through Alaska's Brooks Range.

Backpacking the Arctic Refuge

$3000 per person

June 23-30, 2024 – 5 of 5 spaces available – A backpacking adventure in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s central Brooks Range mountains.

Join us for Backpacking the Arctic Refuge. This trip takes place in Alaska’s Brooks Range in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (sometimes referred to as ANWR) on the traditional and current lands of the Iñupiaq and Gwich’in people.

This Backpacking the Arctic Refuge trip follows a looping route in the western reaches of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Our small group will cross alpine streams, braided rivers and mountain passes as we make a loop through the western portion of the Arctic Refuge. This route begins and ends at the Dalton Highway near Atigun Pass. While traveling we will learn about the delicate ecology of this special ecosystem. And we’ll look for the animals that call this place home, including grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall’s sheep, wolves and a multitude of bird species. Our route will take us over alpine tundra, gravel river beds and rocky mountain slopes – quintessential Brooks Range topography!

We will spend each day on foot, traversing this unique country 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. The anticipated daily mileage will range from 8-12 miles with elevation gain/loss between 1000′-4000′ per day.

Because this trip does not utilize air travel, it is a relatively low-carbon adventure that we are able to offer at a more affordable price than many comparable trips to the Arctic Refuge. We still offset the carbon from our shuttle to and from the Arctic Refuge from Fairbanks. Please note that our anticipated drive time is 8+ hours each way, to and from Fairbanks to our trip destination.

Backpacking the Arctic Refuge Non-Profit Partner: Alaska Wilderness League

A significant monetary donation will be made to the Alaska Wilderness League 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
  • Departure Time
    Sunday, June 23, 2024
  • Return Time
    Sunday, June 30, 2024
  • 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 - Sunday, June 23rd - 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, 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 - Monday, June 24th - Depart for the Backcountry
We'll gather early for a group breakfast at our hotel in Fairbanks before departing via shuttle along the Dalton Highway. Depending on road conditions, our trip north will take roughly 8 hours. We'll stop along the way for fuel, bathroom stops and photo opportunities. In Coldfoot, Alaska we'll grab lunch and visit the excellent Interagency Visitor Center to learn more about the Arctic Refuge. Once we crest Atigun Pass, we'll leave our vehicle behind and head east into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We'll travel several miles to put some distance between us and the Dalton Highway before making camp for the night.
Meals included: all; Accommodations: tents
Days 3-7 - Tuesday, June 25th - Saturday, June 29th - Backcountry Travel
We'll spend these days making a loop through the western portion of the Arctic Refuge. We'll climb steep mountain passes, travel across arctic tundra and ford alpine streams. We'll learn about the delicate ecology of this special ecosystem and look for the animals that call this place home. Our days will be spent on foot, traversing this unique country. Our evenings and mornings will be spent beneath the cook tarp getting to know one another and enjoying the camaraderie of backcountry travel.
Meals included: all; Accommodations: tents
Day 8 - Sunday, June 30th - Return to Fairbanks
By mid-morning, we will return to the Dalton Highway and our staged vehicle. After celebrating the completion of our route, we'll begin heading south back to Fairbanks. Again, our travels will take roughly 8 hours, depending on the road conditions. We'll stop for a late lunch in Coldfoot before proceeding south. If returning home this day, please schedule flights for after 10pm to allow for any unexpected delays. For this itinerary we highly recommend spending an additional night in Alaska/Fairbanks on the night of July 2nd. 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.
Meals included: breakfast and lunch; Accommodations: none

About the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

The area of public land currently known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge occupies the historical and current lands of the Iñupiaq and Gwich'in people of Alaska. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest Wildlife Refuge in the United States and was established in 1960 as the Arctic National Wildlife Range. It was expanded with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act(ANILCA) of 1980 and designated as a Refuge. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is currently threatened by imminent oil drilling - pushed through with reckless speed by Alaska's congressional delegation and the Trump administration.

Ready to Join this Trip?

  1. Fill out the Trip Reservation 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:
      • Pay a premium for a private and/or below-minimum trip
      • Transfer your deposit to another Tundra Travels trip
      • 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!