Thousands of caribou migrate through the Brooks Range area each year. They travel through millions of acres of wilderness park lands in the Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Kobuk Valley National Park, Noatak National Preserve, Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Backpacking in these isolated mountains or floating down the unspoiled rivers are unparalleled wilderness experiences.Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, one of the finest wilderness areas in the world, straddles the Arctic Divide in the Brooks Range, America's northernmost chain of mountains. Second only to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in size, Gates of the Arctic covers 13,238 square miles, sprawls 800 miles from east to west and is entirely north of the Arctic Circle. It extends from the southern foothills of the Brooks Range, across the range's ragged peaks and down onto the North Slope. Most of the park is a maze of glaciated valleys and gaunt, rugged mountains covered with boreal forest or treeless slopes of Arctic tundra north of the divide. It is a habitat for grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, moose, caribou and wolverines. Fishing is considered superb for grayling and Arctic char in the clear streams and for lake trout in the larger, deeper lakes. Within this preserve are six Wild and Scenic Rivers, miles of valleys and tundra slopes to hike and, of course, the Gates themselves. Mt Boreal and Frigid Crags are the gates that flank the north fork of the Koyukuk River. In 1929 Robert Marshall found an unobstructed path northward to the Arctic coast of Alaska through these landmark mountains.
Barrow is situated 1,300 miles south of the North Pole, making it the northernmost community in the United States. Two-thirds of its approximately 4,500 residents are of Inupiat Eskimo descent. The local culture is an interesting mix of traditional lifestyles influenced by community investments from the profits of the Alaskan Pipeline. Visitors to Barrow can learn more about Inupiat culture and history at the Inupiat Heritage Center, or by visiting during the Nalukataq - the traditional spring whaling festival, usually held in June.
Kotzebue, with a population of about 3000, is the largest Eskimo community above the North American Arctic Circle. Though incorporated as a city, Kotzebue is essentially still a village, and offers a wide variety of interesting experiences to visitors. The village is situated on the northern tip of the Baldwin Peninsula, 26 miles above the Arctic Circle, 1479 miles south of the North Pole and 175-miles from the Siberian mainland. For hundreds of years Kotzebue, or Qikiqtagruk as it is called in Inupiaq, the Eskimo language of the area, has been the trading and gathering center for the entire area.
Anaktuvuk Pass is a remote village located within the Park and Preserve boundaries. It was established along a major caribou migration route around 1950 by the last remaining band of semi-nomadic Nunamiut Eskimo. Even today, the residents continue to depend on caribou and other natural resources for food, clothing and cultural continuity. Today, Anaktuvuk Pass is a village of 250 people with regular air service, a village store, and a popular museum that highlights Nunamiut history and culture. The people of Anaktuvuk Pass still trade for food resources from the Arctic coast like meat and blubber from seals and whales.
The Dalton Highway slices through northern Alaska from Livengood to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. Built in 1974 as the service road for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the highway is not to be taken lightly. It's a mostly gravel thoroughfare often ruled by 18-wheelers. Services are few, and signs warn of everything from steep grades to avalanches. However, the signs say little of the road's chief attribute: some of North America's most dramatic scenery. The 414-mile road from Livengood to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, carves a path through forest and tundra, crosses the Yukon River and traverses the magnificent Brooks Range.
You'll enjoy panoramic views of the Alaska Pipeline, the Yukon River Valley with remnants of early gold mining activities, mountain ranges and endless tundra during your flight across the arctic circle. Experience the rugged and magnificent wilderness area upon arrival at a remote wilderness community on the Middle Koyukuk River - deep in the heart of the Gates of the Arctic National Park - and learn about the faszinating story of the Brooks Range, it's people and history. You may choose from 3 daily departures ex Fairbanks. During the summer months we recommend the evening departure for a total midnight sun experience.
Bettles - Alaska is located at 66° 54' N Latitude putting Bettles directly under the maximum zone. Traveling either farther north or farther south takes one farther from the maximum auroral zone. Our location combined with the National Weather Service records indicating Bettles has the most "cloud free" days of any spot in Alaska, increases your chances of seeing the Aurora. Unlike other Alaskan destinations where you must pay to go to "some other spot" for good viewing , Aurora viewing in Bettles starts right outside your door.
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