Kobuk Valley/Gates of the Arctic Basecamp II

We’ve designed this unique trip for National Parks enthusiasts who are looking for an outstanding opportunity to visit more than one of Alaska’s Arctic parks on one trip. On this basecamp trip, we’ll spend several days camping and hiking in both Kobuk Valley Natl. Park and Gates of the Arctic Natl. Park, with extensive small plane flying between each of the locations that provides an opportunity to see vast portions of both of these parks from the air, at a relatively low altitude.

Our Kobuk camp spot will be next to one of the most distinctive features of the park—the Kobuk sand dunes. These extensive dunes are found just off of the Kobuk River, and it’s the most remarkable experience to stand in the middle of a “reverse oasis”—where we’re in a huge island of sand surrounded by lush green vegetation as far as we can see. It’s possible to spot caribou and other animals on the dunes, as well as follow the multitude of tracks and trails in the sand, and also seek out unique plants found only in the dunes. We’ll be camping there next to a small creek, with hiking opportunities in every direction. Then our basecamp location in Gates of the Arctic Natl. Park, below Mt. Igikpak, will give us a completely different experience of being in the heart of the mountains of the Brooks Range—again in beautiful, wild country but in the mountainous, high tundra world that epitomizes the Gates—and again with great hiking opportunities. We’ll travel through Coldfoot at the beginning and end of this trip.

Trip Details

We don’t have set “daily itineraries” since all of our trips are true wilderness expedition-style trips, where we build in flexibility to respond to weather and other conditions, animal sightings, etc. Here is a sense of the general flow of the trip:

Each trip leaves Fairbanks in the early morning of the trip start date, so you need to be in Fairbanks by at least the day before that. We’re scheduled to be back in Fairbanks by late afternoon/early evening of the trip end date. We recommend leaving at least a day’s leeway at the end of the trip in scheduling other travel plans, since there’s always a chance of getting weathered in at the pickup point.

Since a basecamp trip means that we don’t have to move camp or travel from one place to another, these trips have the most flexibility and are the easiest physically. While the guide will generally lead a day hike every day, not everyone has to do the same thing, or hike the same distance-and just relaxing in camp and enjoying the beauty and quiet of the wilderness is a great option!

See more:

“There’s an indefinable energy here, maybe because it’s so far north, so close to the magnetic pole. You can almost see the curvature of the earth as you look north. You feel that you’re on the top of the world.”

—Carol Kasza