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In a state full of life-list trips, there’s still one dream that stands out above all others: a journey to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But ANWR itself is so large—almost 10 times bigger than Yellowstone—that finding the best stuff is no gimme. So take advice from photographer Glenn Oakley, who has years of experience in the region, and says, “Hands down, the best trip is a two-week raft journey down the Kongakut River through the Brooks Range.”
The 45-mile trip, with class II and III rapids, can be done in a week, but Oakley recommends two so you can get out and explore the area on foot. “Put in at Drain Creek and take out at Caribou Pass, and in between make every camp a layover camp,” he says. Wide-open tundra allows you to go virtually anywhere that calls to you. “We went in June when the Porcupine caribou herd was migrating from the coastal plain, where they calve, back into the Brooks Range,” Oakley says. “We also saw wolves, grizzlies, and Dall sheep.” And it’s all set in some of the planet’s most remote country, with 24 hours of daylight in summer so you don’t miss a thing.
Guide Chilkat Guides ($5,000/person for a 10-day trip)