The Wilderness Reality
You're on your own. This is the number one message visitors must know and apply to their visit to Gates of the Arctic. There is no cell phone service and there are no amenities, services, or other infrastructure in the preserve. When you depart Fairbanks, Bettles, Coldfoot, or Anaktuvuk Pass you may not see another person until your return to civilization or your pilot comes to pick you up. Visitors must be self-reliant and able to execute self-extraction and communication, should an emergency situation arise.
Read our Backcountry Trip Planning Guide in preparation for your trip and view a outdoor gear checklist. Leave a detailed backcountry trip plan with friends & family and describe to them what you are doing, where you are going, and what to do if you do not return by a certain date. Make sure they understand the inherent unpredictability of remote Alaskan transportation in regards to weather. Bring a completed trip plan with you, and leave another with your pilot, if you are flying.
If you are relying on air travel for your visit, be aware that air taxis are often times unable to fly in inclement weather. Bring a few extra days of food and allow for 'weather days' in your trip plan to accommodate poor weather. Learn more about transportation to public lands in Alaska and chartering aircraft.
Many visitors to Gates of the Arctic arrive & travel by boat during the fall hunting season. Visit our Hunting Resources and our Hunting webpage to learn more about planning a successful and enjoyable trip to the preserve.
Unlike cell phones and other satellite communication tools that operate on satellites that do not provide reliable service as far north as Gates of the Arctic, satellite phones are an excellent method of two-way communication in Alaska's backcountry, as they function on satellites that orbit the earth north to south and vice versa, providing excellent coverage in Alaska's wilderness areas. Consider renting a satellite phone in Fairbanks before your trip to the park.
Land EthicsFollow the wilderness ethic of others and leave this wild land as you found it, or better, for future generations. Learn how to do this by reading about Leave No Trace in Alaska's Backcountry. Visitors in the park must practice minimum impact camping techniques by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, follow backcountry safety guidelines, and be aware of the fragile ecosystems and private lands within the park.
Read about staying safe in bear country to learn safe and responsible practices for recreating on Alaska's wild lands. Learn more about bear safety through the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers' bear safety page.
Bear-resistant food containers are required for your overnight visit to Gates of the Arctic and are provided free of charge at any of the park's visitor centers. No reservations can be taken as they are provided first come, first serve.
Last updated: September 1, 2021