Gates of the Arctic
Gates of the ArcticDeep in the heart of a great state known for its remoteness and beauty there is an unblemished land that epitomizes those words. North of the Arctic Circle in the Brooks Range lies the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, a maze of glaciated valleys and jagged peaks that nurtures a surprisingly diverse - and stunning - ecosystem.

Covering 8.4 million acres, it is the second largest national park in the United States, but its location makes it one of the least visited. Many cruisetours include it on itineraries to Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's north coast, giving you the unique opportunity to experience a land rich in natural wonders.

WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS

The "Gates of the Arctic" refers to Boreal Mountain and Frigid Crags, a pair of summits that flank the North Fork of the Koyukuk River in the eastern section of the park. Koyukuk is one of six Congressionally designated wild and scenic rivers that crisscross the park, some extending hundreds of miles. A popular destination is John River, which cuts through the center of the park and is ideal for a wilderness float trip.

ROCK CLIMBING AT MIDNIGHT

In the southwestern region, the Noatak River flows down from Mount Igikpak, which tops off at 8,510 feet and is the park's highest point. Naturally, mountain and rock climbing are popular sports, especially during June and July, when the sun never sets. Other activities include canoeing, kayaking, fishing and cross-country skiing.

AN IDEAL SPOT FOR WILDLIFE

Alpine meadows, forested lowlands and arctic tundra vegetation support four-legged wildlife - such as caribou, moose, Dall sheep and black and grizzly bears - as well as the two-legged, winged variety. More than 130 species of birds are here, including eagles, hawks, falcons and owls.