Seeing ANWR for Yourself
The decades-old national controversy about whether to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration created strong interest in seeing that extraordinarily remote northeast corner of Alaska, which is done best in summer on a float trip. While interest in these floats may have increased for political reasons, their reputation of beauty and adventure has made them an attraction in their own right. The best time to see caribou is in June. Jim Campbell and Carol Kasza's Fairbanks-based Arctic Treks has led float trips in ANWR for 3 decades (tel. 907/455-6502; www.arctictreksadventures.com). They offer shorter base-camp trips in ANWR, as well as the long river floats and other arctic journeys, for $4,000 to $5,000 per person.
For those who simply want to see ANWR without a wilderness trip, it's possible to visit the Iñupiaq village of Kaktovik, which lies within the boundaries of the refuge. While we wouldn't recommend the journey for most visitors, those with strong interest in a Bush village sojourn and curiosity about ANWR may enjoy it. Lodging and meals in Kaktovik come from the Waldo Arms Hotel (tel. 907/640-6513), a gathering place known for warm hospitality. Kaktovik is served from Fairbanks by Era Alaska, also known as Frontier Flying Service (tel. 800/478-6779 or 907/450-7200; www.flyera.com). On the schedule, the destination is listed as "Barter Island."