Visit ALASKA NP Bering Land Bridge, Kobuk Valley or Gates of the Arctic
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Feb 22, 2013 12:27 PM Last Post By: H2ooh
Jan 28, 2013 5:53 AM
Visit ALASKA NP Bering Land Bridge, Kobuk Valley or Gates of the ArcticDear,
We are going to Alaska for 21 day in June/July 2013. We would like to see more from Alaska that most popular places. Is the Bering Land Bridge NP or Kobuk Valley visitsable for normal turist?
Do you have an experience with getting there and how much is transport by air?Is expensive?
Thank you for answer.
Jan 28, 2013 9:17 AM
1All three of those parks are very remote and have no visitor facilities within them (no roads, established trails or campgrounds). Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is probably the most expensive to get to. Visitors to those parks should be experienced in the backcountry and know how to read a map, camp in bear country etc. All three are spectacular but take planning and quite a bit of funding to reach. Air taxis cost hundreds of dollars per hour so the further you want to go the more expensive it is.
Each of the parks has a "plan your visit" page on their website which should have good information for the start planning. On those pages they offer a list of authorized air taxi services (for some reason the link is broken for that list on the Bering Land Bridge page). Air taxi is the term used for small plane companies that can fly you into the park, either using aircraft on wheels or on floats. Most visitors to Kobuk Valley National Park fly to Kotzebue on commercial jet, then hire an air taxi to reach points on the Kobuk River. There was someone renting canoes in the village of Kobuk but I can't find him online anymore.
There are people on the authorized operator list that can guide trips for visitors - but none of this will be inexpensive. Kobuk Valley National Park: www.nps.gov/kova. Bering Land Bridge is actually also accessible from Kotzebue. The park webpage is www.nps.gov/bela. Gates of the Arctic is the only one of the three that is accessible from a road because it's possible to drive up the Haul Road (Dalton Hwy) from Fairbanks and hike into the park. Otherwise, you can charter an air taxi from Fairbanks or fly commercially into Bettles and hire an air taxi from there. Their webpage is www.nps.gov/gaar. Keep in mind that for many trips you must pay for a flight to drop you off and another to pick you up, unless you do some sort of trip, like floating the Koyukuk River in Gates, where you can float the river back to Bettles. When an air taxi service flies you, you must pay their round trip for that flight, even if you are being dropped off - what I mean is, if you want to go to a place that takes an hour to reach, they will drop you off but you have to pay their return flight to their base so really you often hire them for two round trips. It's expensive but these places are quite amazing. You have to know what you are doing though as they are wilderness parks.
Jan 28, 2013 9:27 AM
2Hm, I can't seem to edit my entry above. The links aren't directly linked and I forgot the one for Gates of the Arctic so I'll try here.
Kobuk ValleyBering Land Bridge|www.nps.gov/bela]
Gates of the Arctic
When traveling in those parks I would add that you should also know first aid - you really have to be able to take care of yourself in all kinds of situations as you would be very far from help.
Jan 28, 2013 9:32 AM
Jan 28, 2013 11:31 AM
4Great post by alapah.
OP - what is your purpose in visiting these areas? If you are an outdoors person and want to backpack (the American definition: carrying your tent and all your food and gear), Gates of the Arctic offers some spectacular hiking. But it is also very difficult, with tussocks that can break your ankles, glacial river crossings that are numbing and dangerous, and other hazards. It is not a place to visit if you have little experience in river crossings or travel in grizzly bear country - you're a long way from help. If you are not an outdoors person, then this is not a place for you. And, as alapah mentioned, the cost of bush flights are very high.
If you're not an experienced outdoors person, but are interested in doing something more than the traditional Alaska visitors do (i.e. visiting Denali or Glacier Bay), consider visiting Katmai National Park (commerical flight to King Salmon, then another flight to Brooks Camp) for amazing bear viewing. They operate a lodge and campground there. If you wanted to try some unique backpacking you could always spend 3-5 days in the Valey of 10,000 Smokes - spend a day hiking out to the Baked Mt or Burnt Mt area, then do day hikes form there.
Jan 28, 2013 2:39 PM
5Great posts, as always, alapah.
If OP lacks outdoor skills, their best bet would probably be to get dropped off for a few days at either the Sand Dunes or Serpentine. They'd want to fly go through Kotzebue for both. I've flown to those places with Jim Kinkade at Northwest Aviation, but there's other operators based there.
If OP has the skills and experience to be totally self-sufficient I would go to Gates. There's about a million options there.
In any case, OP will need to drop an easy $2000 for the air taxis (if not much more).
Jan 29, 2013 4:41 AM
6Dear Alapah, Nilsy, Section8,
thank you for this information. We will look at website. Can you recommend whit state parks we would to visit? The Gates of Arctic is possible than other to visit. We are a young 3 people (age 25-30) but I havent an experience with backpaking and long hiking. We are going to go to Fairbanks by car. We can leave a car in this town and fly to park. It looks great.
You are so great. Thanks you so much.
Jan 31, 2013 9:30 AM
7It sounds like you may be a bit confused about National Parks in the U.S. - not all of them have facilities (campgrounds, toilets and washrooms, etc.) or trails. Gates of the Arctic is one of those places - it was put in place to protect a wilderness area. People with experience do travel there, but it is not a place to try to have your first independent backpacking experience.
It really sounds like you should focus on the parks with more of a tourist infrastructure: Denali, Kenai and Glacier. You could also go to Katmai or drive in to McCarthy to get a sense of Wrangell-St.Elias National Park (you could walk out along the glacier, see the historic mines, etc).
And, has been stated several times - bush flights are VERY expensive. Before you do too much planning on exotic/unusual destinations you should see what it costs to get into these places.
Jan 31, 2013 1:44 PM
8You don't have experience with long hikes in the wilderness. It sounds like you don't have experience eating and sleeping next to hungry bears either. Alaska is not a good place to get that experience. Even if you hire guides to save you from the mistakes you make, you could still get injured.
The websites for the parks in #7 will list "ranger programs." These are a very good introduction to the wildlife, plants, geology, and history of the parks. Some are easy, but some last 8 hours. On the longer programs you might need to bring your own water, food, and toilet paper.
State parks are controlled by the state, not by the U.S. National Park Service. Alaska lists most of its state parks here. The National Park Service units are listed here. And the U.S. Forest Service controls some more locations. Some of these state or national units are easier to get to but still very quiet.
Feb 13, 2013 10:30 PM
9I'm surprised that no one has mentioned a float trip. And all the talk about bears is way overrated, just get a little education about how to handle yourself in bear country, contact an reputable outfitter and go for it. It's an adventure you'll remember the rest of your life.
I'd suggest Gates of the Arctic. Bettles has a good outfitter or two. If you want something closer to civilization try floating the Talachulitna River about 30 minutes out of Anchorage.
Feb 14, 2013 2:45 PM
Feb 19, 2013 9:02 AM
11Almost anything is possible with enough money and a good guide, but I got the impression that OP's group wants to do things on their own (i.e. as a "normal tourist"). Float trip with a guide would be pretty safe, but may be quite expensive (I have no experience with hiring guides - just bush pilots).
Feb 22, 2013 12:27 PM
12Float trips on a flat river are pretty tame. The Talachulitna does have some class 3 stuff but just for a short stretch. Anyone but a rank amateur should be able to handle it. Of course there are exceptions like a high or late spring run-off. But those situations are normally predictable if you use a little common sense.
Darwin's law does apply in Alaska!
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