Explore Alaskan Wilds Under Midnight Sun

The sunshine and adventure never end this far north

Flickr/Ilya Katsnelson

The sun doesn't fully set for months in far north locations like Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park.

With the summer solstice (June 20) almost here, take advantage of 24-hour days in Kotzebue, Arctic Alaska's adventure capital.

The small coastal town of Kotzebue, Alaska is within range of two of America’s largest and most pristine, yet least visited national parks—Kobuk Valley National Park and Gates of the Arctic National Park. In Kotzebue, the sun rises in the early morning of June 3 and never completely sets again until July 19, shedding total light on the surrounding wonders.

To the east, Kobuk Valley features snow-capped peaks and dunes that have been compared to those of the Sahara, but with wolves, moose and cranes. It's only reachable by plane or, for the truly committed, an arduous 75-mile hike. The park has no roads or marked trails, which make options for exploring nearly limitless. National Geographic suggests a river-hiking combination trip that alternates between days on the Kobuk River and exploring land. Outfitter Arctic Wild also offers a five-day expedition that departs from Kotzebue by plane and makes daylong stops throughout Kobuk Valley and the more distant, yet just as wild Gates of the Arctic National Park. Making a trip between late June and early July also means that you can witness the migration of the 400,000-strong Western Arctic Caribou Herd to its summer calving grounds, the largest mammalian migration on the planet.

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