Gates of the Arctic Wilderness

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Gates of the Arctic Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Arregetch-Peaks.jpg
Map showing the location of Gates of the Arctic Wilderness
Map showing the location of Gates of the Arctic Wilderness
Location Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA
Coordinates 68°06′0″N 153°04′0″W / 68.10000°N 153.06667°W / 68.10000; -153.06667Coordinates: 68°06′0″N 153°04′0″W / 68.10000°N 153.06667°W / 68.10000; -153.06667
Area 7,245,600 acres (2,932,200 ha)
Established 1980 (1980)
Governing body National Park Service

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-acre (2,932,200 ha) 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).

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).

The wilderness is home to many animals, including grizzly bears, moose, wolves, Dall sheep, black bears, and many smaller mammals. Barren-ground caribou congregate in large herds. The rivers are home to many schools of fish, including the grayling, arctic char and chum salmon. Eagles and other birds of prey can be seen soaring overhead waiting for unsuspecting prey.

The wilderness contains many remote glacier-carved valleys, dotted with alpine lakes. While 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. Climbers enjoy the Arrigetch Peaks and Mount Igikpak. 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.

Hikers in the Brooks Range
A pair of hikers climbs toward a high pass in the Central Brooks Range.

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