An Alaskan Adventure to Kobuk Valley & Gates of the Arctic National Parks


My husband and I are involved in a project of hiking all the National Parks before 2016 (when we turn 70).

We are most concerned about how we go about hiking in all the 8 national parks in Alaska. We think it will take two trips to the Great north.

We are planning on hiking the lower 6 national parks in the summer of 2011. How would you go about this?


Great question! For those of you readers who watched the PBS Series, The National Parks, you may remember hearing about the Gerkies, who traveled to 27 of 28 U.S. National Parks that were in existence at the time. Now, a modern day couple, Donna and Mike Guthrie, are setting out to hike all 58 national parks in the USA!

I received the above question from Donna, and shared my thoughts below:

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, photo courtesy of NPS

Your trip to Alaska will be an adventure for sure! I agree with you that it makes sense to split up your journey into 2 trips, because the best season in Alaska is late May thru early September. The lower 6 National Parks will keep you busy in 2011.

Kobuk Valley National Park is sure an oddity, which you are probably aware of. From what I’ve heard about it, there a lots of sand dunes and temperatures can be over 100 degrees in the summer. That reminds me a lot of Death Valley National Park here in CA (my favorite part of Death Valley are the Sand Dunes!) Kobuk can only be reached by plane, so you’ll have to arrange that. The NPS website has a good list of private operators that you can coordinate with.

Gates of the Arctic National Park is the same situation – you’ve got to fly in! Perhaps you should start your journey to these 2 parks in the town of Bettles (you can get your National Park passport stamped there!). From Bettles you could take 2 separate flights – one to Kobuk, then another to Gates of the Arctic).

It is going to be so exciting! Can I come too? just kidding 😉

Happy trails and safe travels!
Hiking Lady

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  1. I am on a journey of painting En plein air all the national parks in America. I started this track August 2014 and have finished 43 out of the 59 parks. Now for the Biggies, Alaska. I’ll be flying into Anchorage on the 21th of July 2017. A friend is giving us a car so I will be able to get to a few parks buy vehicle. Now I have to book flights to Gates of the Arctic and kobuk Valley, katmai, Lake Clark and Glacier Bay. My hope is to fly into Gates of the Arctic make a painting get back on the plane fly to kobuk make a painting fly back to Fairbanks. My paintings generally take about an hour and a half from set up to take down. I know it sounds wacky but this journey is very important to me. If anyone has some insight to make this a little bit easier to handle and a less costly I would greatly appreciate it. Lover of the land

  2. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Sherry! Wow, 50 national parks! That’s so wonderful you’ve been able to enjoy so many of them.
    Have fun on your future adventures 🙂

  3. Sherry says:

    My husband and I have been to 50 national parks so far. I had the excitement of visiting our 50th last year when I turned 50! It’s been a joyful quest and we’re excited to be going back to Alaska this summer (we went to Denali, Lake Clark and Kenai Fjords last summer). We’re travel nurses so we are constantly on a working vacation and loving it! Thanks for your comments about Kobuck Valley and Gates of the Arctic. We feel these will be the biggest challenge for us. At least we can relax on a cruise through Glacier Bay. We loved the stories about the Guthries…good luck to everyone following in their footsteps! Sherry

  4. John says:

    I wonder if either of the two posts above have a website. Seeing all 58 are a goal of mine. I am up to 31 of them. I have done Kenai Fjords and Lake Clark in Alaska. Both were costly considering bush planes etc. But well worth it!!!

  5. Hiking Lady says:

    Wow! That is so exciting that you’re going to see all 8 national parks in Alaska. I’d love to hear about your travels! Have fun and have a wonderful time.

  6. Blackfly says:

    I have seen EVERY NP in the continental US and this summer I am off to see all 8 of the National Parks in Alaska. I have been researching this for a while and it is no easy task as most of Alaska has no roads. This one trip to Alaska will cost me more than all my years traveling to the other National Parks. But still, I am really looking forward to seeing the National Parks in Alaska. Next will be Hawaii.

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