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Overview

This 8.4-million-acre park straddles the Brooks Range north of the town of Bettles. The park is named for two peaks — Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain — that frame the Koyukuk River. Entirely above the Arctic Circle, this wilderness park contains a series of dramatic mountains bisected by large rivers. Boreal forests dominate at lower elevations on the southern slopes, with arctic tundra in the valleys on the northern side of the Brooks Range. Because of its remoteness, visitors need to be prepared to survive on their own in bear (and mosquito) country. Park headquarters are in Fairbanks, with a seasonal visitor center in Bettles, but there ...

This 8.4-million-acre park straddles the Brooks Range north of the town of Bettles. The park is named for two peaks — Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain — that frame the Koyukuk River. Entirely above the Arctic Circle, this wilderness park contains a series of dramatic mountains bisected by large rivers. Boreal forests dominate at lower elevations on the southern slopes, with arctic tundra in the valleys on the northern side of the Brooks Range. Because of its remoteness, visitors need to be prepared to survive on their own in bear (and mosquito) country. Park headquarters are in Fairbanks, with a seasonal visitor center in Bettles, but there are no trails or developed areas. Access is mainly by air from Bettles, Coldfoot, or Anaktuvuk Pass, though it is possible to hike in from The Dalton Highway. Guided river trips are popular, especially on the Koyukuk, Alatna, John, and Noatak Rivers. The little village of Bettles is home to several guide operations, along with two lodges, both of which are winter destinations for northern lights viewing.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Not surprisingly, virtually all park visitors come in the peak of summer when days are endless and temperatures are mild. Wintertime northern lights viewing attracts visitors to Bettles.