People come to Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve seeking rare opportunities for uninterrupted solitude and intimate encounters with nature. If they look carefully, visitors can see evidence of people who lived in or passed through this land before.
Inupiaq and Athabascan people and their ancestors traveled long distances over rough terrain throughout the central Brooks Range. Their knowledge of the land enabled them to survive on the plants and animals available during each season. Their descendants, now living in small communities nearby, continue to use this knowledge to hunt and gather in the Park and Preserve.
Early explorers and scientists pushed as far into the region as the terrain allowed. They filled empty spaces on their maps and sought new species and resources. Gold miners searched for riches along the Kobuk and Koyukuk Rivers. Their crumbling cabins and rusting artifacts remind us of their stay.
These people, and the hunters, trappers, mountain climbers, and wildlife enthusiasts that followed, have all added to the history of this place. Their stories add layers and depth to the meaning of wilderness.
Did You Know?
Chert is a fine-grained rock used by the prehistoric inhabitants of the Brooks Range to create tools like scrapers, knives and spear points. The Brooks Range contains one of the richest deposits of "tool quality" chert in the world.