Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is located in the most northern area of Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle. The park holds 8,472,506 acres of land and is the second largest national park in the United States. The area was once inhabited by nomadic Native American tribes, including the Nunamuit and the Gwich’in peoples. Evidence of these tribes has been found that dates back as far back as 12,500 years ago. The first American explorers to visit the region in nineteenth century, before gold was found in the Klondike region.

The establishment of the park began in the 1960’s, when the National Park Service conducted a survey of the region in 1968. This survey called for a national park in the Brookes Range area and was suggested to hold 4,100,000 acres. It was not until 1978 that any action was successfully taken, when President Jimmy Carter established Gates of the Arctic National Monument. The area was officially established as a national park in 1980. The park was named for two peaks, Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain, that activist Bob Marshall discovered in 1929 while exploring the Koyukuk River.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve holds many natural features including eastern and central areas of the Brookes Range and the Endicott Mountains. Other features include the Mount Igikpak and forty-four mile long Tinayguk River, among four other rivers. The park is bordered by the Dalton Highway in the east, by the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the west, and by Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge in the south.

The habitats of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve include tundra, boreal forest, and an arid and cold area known as Arctic desert, which holds temperatures as low as −70 °F. The forested areas of the park contain white and black spruce trees. The park holds many animal species including Dall sheep, wolves, caribou, and barren-ground grizzlies. Hunting is allowed in the preserve, but the park only allows subsistence hunting by local residents.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve can be accessed by air taxis or by foot. Visitors are allowed to camp in the park, but only in areas that are not regulated by native corporations. Information about the park and about other parks in the area can be obtained at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, which is typically open between the months of May to September.

Image Caption: Gates of the Arctic in Summer – Aerial View. Credit: Tillman/Wikipedia