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Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve

Gates of the Arctic
Gates of the Arctic Links

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The scenery is of remote wilderness and unpeopled distances, where the natural forces of wind, water, temperature, and glacial and tectonic action have sculpted a wildly varied landscape. Southerly foothills step into waves of mountains which grow to limestone or granitic peaks of over 7,000 feet. At the Arctic Divide the ranks reverse as the tundra stretches to the Arctic Ocean. Six national wild rivers are among the numerous waterways transecting the park. No formal trails exist within its boundaries. With adjacent Noatak National Preserve and Kobuk Valley National Park, Gates of the Arctic comprises one of the world's largest parkland areas.

Created to ensure the integrity of the arctic environment, Gates of the Arctic contains major portions of the Brooks Range and habitat of the western arctic caribou herd. Grizzly and black bear, wolf, moose, Dall sheep, wolverine, and fox are also found in the park. At spring breakup, the few resident bird species are joined by migratory species from Europe, South America, Asia, tropical archipelagos, and the continental United States. Despite the variety, wildlife is widely dispersed because large areas are required to sustain life in the Arctic.

Sparse black-spruce forests called taiga (from the Russian for "land of little sticks") dot north-facing slopes and poorly drained lowlands. Boreal forests of white spruce, aspen, and birch are typically found on south-facing slopes. Near tree line, the shrub-thicket community of dwarf and resin birch, alder, and willow appears. Heath moss, and fragile lichen make up the understory. Alpine tundra communities occur in mountainous areas and along well-drained rocky ridges.

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