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“Mindblowing,” says photographer Patrick Endres. He says the Arrigetch Peaks in Gates of the Arctic are one of his favorite spots in the state because of the chiseled summits, big-view campsites, glacier-blue lakes, and utter remoteness. “The rugged mountains enclose you and pin you into the gorgeous landscape,” he says. “It’s intimate despite the enormous terrain.”
There are several ways to access the area, but Endres says the best is via a bush plane to the confluence of the Alatna River and Arrigetch Creek. From there, hike 8 miles up Arrigetch Creek (on a rough trail) to its headwaters. “The approach can be done in a day,” Endres says, “but there are some nice campsites along the way if you want to break it up. Once you reach the headwaters [right], the views of the surrounding mountains are amazing.” Set up basecamp and explore the Aquarius Valley, where five unnamed lakes sit amid sharply rising summits.
Bush plane Fly from Bettles. Prices start at about $500/person round-trip, depending on group size.