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Know the West

The Gates of the Arctic, revealed

From charging bears to glacier-carved valleys, photographs capture the real nature of the national park.


Joe Wilkins, an avid climber and backpacker, has spent decades exploring remote regions of northern Alaska by foot, plane and raft. In Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration, Wilkins recounts his adventures in America’s second-largest national park. His exploits read like a conversation with a well-adventured friend, equal parts memoir and informative guide.

From encounters with charging bears to witnessing the seasonal caribou migration, Wilkins gives readers a sense of what it’s like to be immersed in a remote wilderness. Insider knowledge and logistics are sprinkled throughout, giving a sense of the preparation needed to survive adventures like his. Wilkins’ accompanying photographs capture the park’s unique glacier-carved valleys and scenic rivers. “Few people have invested so much time and effort in exploring and getting to know this area,” Zak Richter, a retired ranger at Gates of the Arctic National Park, observed. “(Wilkins’) descriptions of the region are accurate, current and authentic.”

Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration
By Joe Wilkins.
309 pages, hardcover: $39.95.
Brown Books Publishing Group, 2018.