Gates of the Arctic Wilderness

Gates of the Arctic Wilderness is a wilderness area in the U.S. state of Alaska. Located in the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, it is 7,245,600 acres (29,320 km²) in area, the third-largest designated wilderness area in the United States (after the Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness and the Mollie Beattie Wilderness, both also in Alaska).

History and Introduction

When the wilderness activist, Bob Marshall, for whom Bob Marshall Wilderness in Western Montana is named explored the region in the early 1930s he bestowed the name "The Gates of the Arctic" on a pair of mountains near the head of the North Fork of the Koyukuk River (Boreal Mountain and Frigid Crags). Straddling the central Brooks Range and looming entirely above the Arctic Circle, the 8,500,000-acre (34,400 km2) Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve protects a mass of land four times larger than Yellowstone National Park.

Towards the north, the land is a frozen desert, one of the driest places on Earth, the wilderness is home to many animals, among these are the barren-ground caribou which travel in and live amongst large herds, grizzly bears, Moose, wolves, Dall sheep, black bears, and many smaller mammals share this land also, the rivers are also home to many schools of fish, the grayling, char and chum salmon. Eagles and other birds of prey can seen soaring overhead waiting for unsuspecting prey.

Remote glacier-carved valleys split the range, drained by clear rivers and dotted with alpine lakes. Whilst no established trails exist, backpacking is becoming increasingly popular in the area. Many hikers carry firearms for protection from bears, but such attacks rarely occur. The Arrigetch Peaks and Mount Igikpak are common mountains which can be climbed. Hunting and trapping game is allowed in the preserve section. Although camping is unrestricted, wood is scarce and campfires are discouraged.

The Wilderness encompasses six rivers, the Alatna River, John River, Kobuk River, the North Fork of the Koyukuk River, part of the Noatak River and the remote and seldom visited Tinayguk River.

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