Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 69.03600°N / 142.07895°W
Additional Information GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 22, 0000
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer


I was young long before the advent of the Internet so for me, old pages of the National Geographic magazine revealed places of wonder such as the Rwenzori, New Guinea, and the Himalaya.  Over the past thirty years I have visited many of these lands of my childhood dreams but until this past summer had never ventured into the Earth’s higher latitudes.

However, prompted in part by national “leaders” striving to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, I decided to make this location the focus of my next trip.  Of course, COVID hit, but after the delay of a year, I finally made it to the mountains, rivers, and plains of the refuge. 

As a change from many trips that I’ve been on, I went on a commercial trip (with Chilkat Guides) and rafted the Kongakut River from deep within the Brooks Range to close to where it spills out onto the great coastal plains bordering the Arctic Ocean. 

We passed through a land of boundless unnamed mountains and with rafting on tap only about half of the days, we had many days devoted purely to exploration, hikes, and for some fishing in the waters of the river.

ANWR is a land of caribou, wolves, bear, and musk oxen.  We are visitors there, and in that spirit, I’ve decided to simply show images of the mountains, animals, plants, and then the coastal plains of this great land. 

thumbnail_IMG_9703 Pretending that I'm a Caribou... Photo by Austin


With others on the trip, I climbed some dozen peaks along the course of the Kongakut River.  We found that the walking was generally easy on tundra (although there are fields of hummocks to negotiate in places).  Generally, the rock was quite stable.  Even in places that loose scree seemed inevitable it generally was far more solid than appeared possible.  Many of the peaks had a sharp summit cap but we found that nearly universally, there would be an easy passage on the northeast side.

Be aware that there are bears here and carrying bear spray is strongly recommended…



P1090434b P1090434b
P1090245 P1090245
DSC_0100b DSC_0100b
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Land of the Midnight Sun

One of my goals for the trip was to experience the midnight sun.  The following pictures are of a hike that I took with Liam to the summit of a beautiful mountain near our camp.  We began our hike at 11:00 PM, reached the sun at about twenty minutes to midnight and reached the summit shortly after 1 in the morning, with the sun shining above the northern horizon.  By the time we returned to our tents at 2:30 AM, they too were in bright sunlight.  The latter two photos are by Liam as I left my camera in the tent by mistake.


OI000668Midnight... Photo by Liam
DSC_9551Peak that we climbed at Midnight...


OI00063512:30 AM and getting close to the summit.  Photo Liam


When I conceived of the trip, I hoped to see a musk ox as they are a relic of a different era.  I didn’t in my wildest thoughts conceive of waking on the final full day in the company of 30.000 caribou returning from their calving grounds.  Then, when we were waiting for the plane to pick us up, three wolves swung by our camp.  This is a truly magical place.


Some of the herd and a bear huntingSome of the herd and a bear hunting
DSC_9436bMusk Oxen


DSC_9989Young Caribou that made it past the bear...
DSC_9972b Caribou....
DSC_9977b The Hunt
DSC_0220b Long Tailed Jaeger
DSC_0083b Wolf



DSC_9295Arctic Flower


DSC_9294Flowers and an arctic groundsquirrel

The Coastal Plain

This is the place that is being opened to oil drilling.  Being the heart of the caribou calving grounds, it is also considered by many to be the ecological heart of the reserve. 

DSC_0497Patterns on the Coastal Plain
DSC_0125The Coastal Plain from the Air
DSC_0150Cracks in the permafrost
DSC_0506The Coastal Plain
DSC_0419The Coastal Plain

South East Alaska...

On the way to this trip, the plane flew over the amazing ranges of South East Alaska and the Yukon.  Here are some photos...


DSC_9053Glacier Bay National Park
DSC_9046Mt. Logan, I think...


DSC_9056Near Mr. St. Elias
DSC_9054Not far from Mr. St. Elias




















I made the following video after returning home set to the music of Julia Westlin with some of the photos shown here and many more...

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-3 of 3
T. White

T. White - Aug 26, 2021 1:55 am - Voted 10/10

What a great trip report.

Thanks for sharing your adventure in such a sublime place!


RobSC - Aug 28, 2021 1:59 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: What a great trip report.

Thanks for the kind words! ANWR is truly an amazing place and the experience was worth a year's wait!


JohnMcPike - Oct 16, 2021 7:32 pm - Voted 10/10


Awesome, spectacular scenery. Thanks for sharing

Viewing: 1-3 of 3



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