Gates Of The Arctic National Park & Preserve

Gates Of The Arctic National Park & Preserve



Trash is a major concern in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. If you pack it in, pack it out. Never burn, bury or litter unused food or trash in the field.

Trash is also a major concern in many bush communities. Landfills are small and filling up fast. You can help by taking your trash all the way to a transfer station in Fairbanks.

One way to save weight and time when traveling into the park, is to leave excess packaging at home. Repackaging dry food into resealable bags makes the food fit easier into bear resistant food containers as well.

Sometimes items such as fire rings, rock cairns and old cans that appear to be recent impacts are potentially cultural or historic artifacts. If you find trash or impact sites in the Park and Preserve do not remove them, please report them to a ranger.

Centennial Initiative 2016

Centennial Vision

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, America invites the world to discover the meaning of national parks to their lives and inspires people to both experience and become devoted to these special places.

On August 25, 2006 - the 90th anniversary of the National Park Service - Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne launched the National Park Centennial Initiative to prepare national parks for another century of conservation, preservation and enjoyment. Since then the National Park Service asked citizens, park partners, experts and other stakeholders what they envisioned for a second century of national parks.

A nationwide series of more than 40 listening sessions produced more than 6,000 comments that helped to shape five centennial goals. The goals and vision were presented to President Bush and to the American people on May 31st in a report called The Future of America's National Parks.

Every national park staff took their lead from this report and created local centennial strategies to describe their vision and desired accomplishments by 2016. This is just the first year, and there are many great things to come as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate 100 years!

Preserve Your Wilderness Park

The greatest resource of all is space-space for wandering, space for solitude and a sense of discovery.

John Kaufman

Gates of the Arctic is the United States' premier wilderness park. Its towering mountains run through a delicate balance of tundra, boreal forest, and coastal plains fed by icy rivers and lakes. Here visitors experience solitude, self reliance and nature on its own terms. However, the short growing season and permafrost create a surprisingly fragile Arctic ecosystem. The National Park Service is dedicated to preserving the natural and cultural wonders of the park as well as the wilderness experience available to all.

We need your help.


Leave What You Find

It is illegal to remove most natural objects, including plants and flowers, as well as cultural artifacts from any National Park Service lands.

Natural objects of beauty or interest, such as antlers or fossils, should be left for others to discover and enjoy. Antlers also provide an important calcium source for small mammals.

Gates of the Arctic has been inhabited for thousands of years. Decendants of ancient residents still use the land and its resources to lead a subsistance lifes. Any items that you find such as traps, tools, firepits, etc., that appear recent, may be parts of historical or prehistoric cultural sites. Please do not disturb things that are even potentially cultural or historic structures or artifacts. Please report such sites to park staff so they can be surveyed.

Guardians of the Gates

The National Park Service invites you to become a Guardian of the Gates and help us protect this national treasure.

Before you enter the Park and Preserve stop by a ranger contact station for a Back Country Orientation. Participants receive a Guardians of the Gates patch, as well as an opportuntiy to ask questions about their trip and get park area specific condition updates. Visitors also have the opportunity to fill out the voluntary Back Country Registration form and check out Bear Resistant Food Containers free of charge.

Those with a short layover can request a Back Country Orientation Video/DVD be sent through the mail. The video can be returned at the ranger contact station when you stop by for updates and Bear Resistant Food Containers.

If we work together we can preserve this special place and the wilderness values that are experienced here for future generations.

Fire Management

Despite the long, severe winters and relatively short summers in Gates of the Arctic, wildland fires do occur. Tundra fires occur infrequently in the northernmost two-thirds of the park due to the Brooks Range and the Arctic coastal influences on the North Slope. However, the southern third of the park, made up of the boreal forest, lies within Alaska's northernmost interior lightning belt where fire is a significant, natural process.

For thousands of years, select plants and animals have adapted to periodic large and small high-intensity fires. Both black and white spruce depend on intense ground fire to clear organic layers and expose fertile seedbeds. At the peak of the Alaskan Interior fire season in June and July, black spruce seeds become ready for germination. Seeds are released when canopy fire opens the cones. Black spruce semi-serotinous cones are unique because they partially rely upon high-intensity fires in order to open.

Fire also plays a key role in the regulation of the permafrost table throughout this area. Without fire, organic matter accumulates, the permafrost table rises, and ecosystem productivity declines. Vegetation communities become less diverse and wildlife habitat decreases. Fire rejuvenates these systems. It removes insulating organic matter and elicits a warming of the soil. Combustion and increased decomposition rates return nutrients to the soil. What at first looks like devastation soon blooms into a panorama of life.

Because of the vast and remote location of Gates of the Arctic, very few fire suppression efforts occur in the park. NPS Fire Management protects human life, private property, and cultural and natural resources that warrant protection. Managers also allow fire to fulfill its role as a natural process to the fullest extent possible.