I’m Gary and I run the Instagram page @everythingeverywhere. In this short article I would like to introduce you to the Alaskan wilderness of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Each year less than 1,000 people visit this park and I was one of those such lucky visitors a few years ago.
I grew up in Wisconsin, USA and didn’t travel much as a youngster. Indeed, I didn’t see saltwater for the first time until I was 21 years old! In the 1990’s, I started an Internet company and went onto selling it in 1998. The following year, the company I sold it to sent me on a three week trip around the world to talk to their regional offices. That got me hooked on traveling.
In 2005, I came up with the idea to travel the world. I sold my house and started traveling in 2007. The first camera I purchased was expensive but I could only take a bunch of horrible photos at that point. Over a period of years, I gradually improved my photography skills until I was eventually named the Travel Photographer of the Year in North America.
Beautiful Day in Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
I visited Gates of the Arctic National Park in my effort to visit all of the national parks in the United States. You can’t visit this national park on a whim. There is a limited season for visiting and the park is hard to reach. It’s one of the two national parks above the Arctic Circle. You have to fly into the park on a floatplane or hike through the northern Alaskan backcountry.
You can only visit Gates of the Arctic National Park in summer and really only in July/August. The options for visiting are a one-day flight seeing tour or a several week backpacking adventure. There is no in between. I took a flight tour out of Bettles. We flew over the mountains and most of the park and did a landing on Walker Lake. I spent a full day flying over the park.
Favorite Part of Gates of the Arctic National Park – Brooks Range
There are no roads going into the park and no visitor centers, campgrounds or trails. The entire park is an untouched wilderness. The most stunning thing about the park has to be the Brooks Range. The mountains are spectacular and few people have seen them. Flying over the range and landing on Walker Lake was such an incredible experience.
Gates of the Arctic National Park actually gets its name from this range as the explorer Bob Marshall saw these peaks on either side of the Koyukuk River and decided to call them “Gates of the Arctic”. An astonishing fact is that the park is larger than the entire country of Belgium!
Need to Know Before you Go
As the park is so undeveloped, there are not hotels, campsites, roads or visitor centers. There isn’t even any signage! The only option if you want to stay in the park is to go backcountry camping. You also need to have bear boxes (metal food storage boxes) with you to protect your food from bears.
Another awesome park above the Arctic Circle near Gates of the Arctic is Kobuk Valley National Park. Again, this is a remote wilderness with no roads. Highlights of this park include sand dunes, caribou migrations, the beautiful Kobuk River and the Onion Portage Archeological District. Be sure to add this incredible wilderness to your Alaska bucket list as well!