Gates of the Arctic National Park

The History of Gates of the Arctic National Park

©2006 National Park Services Gates of the Arctic is a remote arctic wilderness, where visitors seek and find solitude and adventure.

Gates of the Arctic National Park takes its name from conservationist Robert Marshall, who visited the area in the early 1930s. Hiking through the valley of the North Fork of the Koyukuk River in June, a month when sunlight keeps the wild land ablaze with a bright red light until 2 a.m., Marshall came upon a pair of unusually steep mountains, flanking the North Flank of the Koyukuk River. He called the peaks Gates of the Arctic.

"No sight or sound or smell or feeling even remotely hinted of men or their creations," Marshall would recall later. "It seemed as if time had dropped away a million years and we were back in a primordial world."

The Establishment of Gates of the Arctic National Park

Fifty years later, the land was established as a national park. Covering 8.5 million acres and encompassing six wild rivers, two national natural landmarks, the Noatak Biosphere Preserve, and hundreds of indigenous people, Gates of the Arctic National Park is as primitive as ever. Despite the harshness of the land, Koyukon Athabascan and Nunamuit and Kobuk Inupiat peoples have lived in this region for thousands of years. In fact, 1,500 residents in 10 camps still call the park home today.

Adventurers searching for a primitive and challenging environment should look no farther than Gates of the Arctic National Park. Explore this magnificent setting, and you will be convinced that you are really in one of those "end of the world" places.

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