How large will my group be? Small groups are the best way to witness the Last Frontier! This wilderness trip is limited to 8 guests. And with a guest to guide ratio of 4:1 you are assured of our commitment to risk management and safe operations. Furthermore, it is a best practice to keep groups exceptionally small to minimize our impact on the Alaskan backcountry by following Leave No Trace principles.
What about the mosquitoes? In case you've heard horror stories... the number of mosquitoes is greatly dependent on hatching season, annual weather conditions, specific locations, and time of year. While you are bound to encounter some mosquitoes during the course of your summer adventure, their numbers rarely present major problems. That said, please arrive prepared with insect repellent and a head net to fend off any bugs that are present.
Will bears be a problem? Alaska is bear country! There are both grizzly and black bears in most of the wilderness areas of Alaska we visit. We love seeing bears in the wild, and consider bear sightings one of the most thrilling privileges common in Alaska’s backcountry. That said, traveling safely and taking precautions to minimize a negative encounter are considerations we take very seriously. In addition to conducting a thorough pre-trip bear safety orientation, your guides also take many precautions on all of our trips including: 1) all of our food is packaged to minimize odors – we vacuum seal most of our fresh ingredients and sauces, we pack our food in bear resistant food canisters, and we store our food well away from camp. 2) We make noise when we’re hiking in thick brush or when we’re hiking in windy conditions to minimize surprise encounters. 3) We keep an exceptionally clean camp and 4) as a last resort guides travel armed carrying pepper spray.
Will I see wildlife on my trip? It's important to keep in mind that while we do have abundant wildlife populations in Alaska, animals are often obscured by the vastness of the landscape, subject to imprecise migration routes and often affected by Alaska's dynamic weather patterns. While historically wildlife viewing on our trips has been reliable, and we schedule our trips to maximize the chances of seeing wildlife, there are simply too many factors to make any guarantees.
What kind of food might we expect? Our food is excellent – in fact it is something that clearly differentiates us from our competition. We have spent the past fifteen years fine tuning our backcountry menu. And in 2012, we launched Adventure Appetites – an award winning food company focused on bringing our lightweight and packable wilderness cuisine to adventurers everywhere. Breakfasts include pancakes, scrambles, homemade granola and cereal, locally roasted gourmet coffee, assorted tea and cocoa. Lunches could include an Italian club torta sandwich, asiago bagels and Alaska lox, a curried tuna pita, or perhaps crackers with genoa salami with a roasted red pepper goat cheese spread. We also feature house made snack mixes (both savory & sweet), and an assortment of energy bars available throughout the day. Dinners could include pasta carbonara, Alaska reindeer rotini, chicken and chorizo enchiladas, penne pasta with a roasted red pepper pesto, and more. And we ALWAYS experience one of Adventure Appetites home baked desserts after dinner.
What will the weather be like on my trip? Alaska has some of the most dynamic and dramatic weather on the planet. During the summer months in Alaska, average daytime temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees F, nighttime and morning temperatures are cooler, but rarely dip below 40 degrees F. Fall arrives early at these latitudes and you'll experience cooler temperatures and fewer hours of daylight in late August and early September. Throughout the summer season, you may experience rain, sun, wind, clouds and fog on your departure. We live by the adage "prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and you'll likely end up with some of both".
What will the camping be like on my trip? Alaska Alpine Adventures has camped in some of Alaska’s most remote and wild places; from the remote beaches of the Alaska Peninsula, the rugged glaciers of the Neacola Mountains, to the open tundra expanses of the Brooks Range, With literally thousands of nights camped in the Alaska wilderness in all seasons, we have refined camp craft to a science. Expedition quality tents, included trekking poles, group-size tarp shelters, and only the best cooking equipment accompany each and every one of our wilderness trips. Not only does including the finest equipment make camp life more comfortable, it also adds a level of safety to trips that could otherwise be relentlessly unforgiving to the unprepared. In other words, we take our camping very seriously! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself waiting out a storm under the group tarp, out of the weather, enjoying hot drinks, sumptuous meals and excellent company, while your guide fastidiously tensions all of the tent guy lines!
Gates of the Arctic National Park:
Why go to Gates of the Arctic National Park? Gates of the Arctic National Park, despite being the recipient of frequent media attention over the past 45 years, remains one of the most remote and unspoiled places on earth. Its 8.4 million acres cover an area twice the size of Connecticut and only slightly smaller than Switzerland. The park is essentially a road less wilderness area and, except for limited and difficult access along the Dalton highway. Traversing the landscape alters our sense of scale as well as our definition of true wilderness. Rafting, hiking, and backpacking in Gates of the Arctic are the activities that Alaska Alpine Adventures specializes in and we have been operating in Gates of the Arctic National Park since 2005.
Where is Gates of the Arctic National Park? Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve lies 250 miles north of Fairbanks, and over 450 miles north of Anchorage. The national park is the central component of the 700 square mile protected Brooks Range. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is to the east, and the Noatak Preserve is to the west.
Where is Kobuk Valley National Park? Kobuk Valley National Park located in northwestern Alaska 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and roughly 100 miles from Kotzebue and the western coast of Alaska.
How do you get to Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley? Access to Gates of the Arctic National Park is mainly by small aircraft or, in some instances, can be arduously accessed by foot.
Is transportation to Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley included in the price of the trip? Absolutely, our Arctic trips are all inclusive from Fairbanks. All you need to do is get yourself to our lodge in Fairbanks on Day 1 of your itinerary.
Where will you meet us? Your Alaska Alpine Adventures guide will meet you in the afternoon at the lodge on Day 1 for an orientation dinner and gear check.
Who will I be flying with and what time will we be departing on day two? You will join your guides for breakfast at the lodge on the morning of Day 2. From there, the group will shuttle to the air taxi for the flight to Bettles. We will be flying with Wright Air from Fairbanks to Bettles. From there, we'll transfer to the float plane lake in Bettles for our float plane flight into the wilderness with Brooks Range Aviation. We'll be picked from the Noatak river on a small gravel bar by Kotzebue based Golden Eagle Outfitters.
Are Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National parks good places for viewing wildlife? Absolutely. The parks are home to grizzly and black bears, dall sheep, caribou, moose, wolves, and tremendous seasonal populations of migratory birds.
Getting to Alaska
This trip begins in Fairbanks, Alaska. The trip ends in Anchorage. Getting to Fairbanks or Anchorage is easy. Alaska Airlines, your travel agent, online travel sources, or the carrier of your choice are options to easily arrange roundtrip airfare from international cities or the lower 48. We’ve found it best to purchase roundtrip flights into/out of Anchorage, with a one-way flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks purchased separately.
Access to Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks is limited to air travel in a small airplane flown by an experienced bush pilot. This adventure includes the bush flight between Fairbanks and Bettles, Alaska and floatplane flights into Gates of the Arctic necessary for your itinerary. Have your camera at the ready, your trip begins here. For most, this will be your first experience in a small aircraft, and a memorable one to be sure. There’s a lot of flying involved in this trip, including jet service from Kotzebue to Anchorage to conclude the trip.
Lodging on night one in Fairbanks is included in your package. You’ll be staying in at Pike's Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks. We use Pike's because of its comfortable rooms and convenient location near the airport. Prices are double occupancy. If you prefer your own room on night one you will be asked to pay a single supplement of $110.00. The remaining nights will be spent camping in the wilderness!
- All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
- All Rafting Equipment: Inflatable kayaks, life jackets, paddles plus spares, repair kits, throw bags, and dry bags
- Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
- Large backpack-style drybag for transporting and storing personal gear while on trip
- Trekking poles
- One way bush flights from Fairbanks to the Noatak River
- All bush flights between the Noatak, Kobuk Valley, and Kotzebue
- One way commercial flight from Kotzebue to Anchorage
- Lodging on the night one at the Pikes Waterfront Lodge
- Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
- All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
- Storage for your extra travel items while in the field
- Lodging in Fairbanks prior to and Anchorage after your adventure
- Personal gear (sleeping bags, packs, rain gear, etc.) - See Equipment Lists and rental items
- Trip cancellation insurance
- Additional hotel/lodge nights in Fairbanks, Bettles, or Kotzebue due to weather delays
- Alcoholic beverages
- Guide gratuities
Reservation & Cancellation Policy
A deposit of $1000.00 per person is required to reserve a trip with Alaska Alpine Adventures. The remaining balance is due 60 days prior to the start of the trip. Reservations made within 60 days of the trip starting date require payment in full.
If the participant cancels a reservation earlier than 60 days prior to the starting date, the deposit will be refunded, minus a $100.00 administration fee. If the participant cancels within 59-31 days of the starting date, 50% of the trip balance will be refunded. If cancellation is made within 30-0 days of the trip starting date, there will be no refund of any costs. Alaska Alpine Adventures recommends cancellation insurance available through Travel Guard. Please call or email us for details.
Trip Cancellations or Delays
Alaska Alpine Adventures reserves the right to cancel or change the itinerary of a trip. In the event that Alaska Alpine Adventures cancels your trip and you are unable to participate, the total balance will be refunded. Occasionally, weather or other factors may cause delays or make completing a trip impossible. In these circumstances, there will be no refund of fees. Furthermore, Alaska Alpine Adventures is not responsible for any other costs, (e.g. airline flight changes, additional hotel nights, etc.) associated with trip delays or itinerary changes due to weather or other factors.
In order to assure any Alaska Alpine Adventures departure, a minimum number of participants must sign up. Our Noatak River and Great Kobuk Sand Dunes Combination trip requires a minimum of 4 guests to guarantee departure. However we will operate our adventures at below the minimum required for a modest surcharge. Please see our Reservations Page for more information regarding trip minimums.