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Brooks Range Scenic Flight

Are you looking for a scenic flight over the Brooks Range in Alaska? Check our tips and photos on how to organize such an adventure. Which Alaska air taxi to choose? When is the best time to fly? What to expect? You will learn everything in our article. We were delighted with the scenic flight over the northernmost mountain range in the United States and would love to repeat it.

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Brooks Range Scenic Flight

Brooks Range Scenic Flight – Our Experiences

In this article, we’ll give you tips on organizing a Brooks Range Flightseeing we did on our recent trip via Dalton Highway in Alaska. We experienced a scenic flight with the great pilot Danielle of Coyote Air from Coldfoot Airport. And we would like to emphasize that this is not a sponsored post. We purchased the trip ourselves and share our honest opinions, tips, and photos.

As we love Alaska, we have already done several scenic flights during our travels. We had the opportunity to experience a scenic flight over Denali with a glacier landing. And we had a scenic flight during a bear-watching trip to Katmai National Park.

But the Brooks Range and the Gates of the Arctic National Park is the most remote, most spectacular, and wildest piece of Alaska we have ever had a chance to admire from a bird’s eye view. So let’s dive into the details of this Alaskan adventure.

Brooks Range Scenic Flight
Agnes during Brooks Range Scenic Flight

Brooks Range Facts

It’s hard to imagine the enormity, massive, wildness, and area of the Brooks Range, so it’s worth knowing some essential facts about these mountains at the beginning. The mountain range was named in 1925 after Alfred Hulse Brooks, the chief USGS geologist for Alaska, from 1903 to 1924. The only settlements in the region are the Alaska Native villages of Anaktuvuk and Arctic Village and communities of Coldfoot, Wiseman, Bettles, and Chandalar.

Geography Facts

  • The Brooks Range (Gwich’in: Gwazhał) is the northernmost mountain range in the United States in the most remote part of Alaska, in the American Arctic.
  • It stretches 700 miles (1,100 km) from west to east across northern Alaska into Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • For the most part, the Brooks Range is located within the North Slope Borough. Moreover, the range is almost entirely located north of the Arctic Circle. It is situated to the south and east of the Arctic Ocean (the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea), near Prudhoe Bay (if you drive via Dalton Highway).
  • The highest peak Mount Isto with an elevation of 8,976 feet (2,736 m), is 126 million years old.
  • The largest zinc mine in the world – the Red Dog Mine, is located far west, near Kotzebue. It operates since 1989.
Brooks Range flightseeing

The Most Important Units within this Mountain Range

Within the Brooks Range are a number of major national parks, preserves, monuments, and wildlife refuges:

  • The Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (check out how to plan a trip to the Gates of the Arctic)
  • Kobuk Valley National Park
  • the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Ivvavik National Park and Vuntut National Park in Canada’s Yukon Territory
  • Selawik National Wildlife Refuge
  • the Noatak Wilderness
  • Noatak National Preserve
  • Cape Krusenstern National Monument

It is worth emphasizing that these units include two of the eight national parks in Alaska, which are two of the least visited national parks among all US national parks due to their difficult accessibility. Brooks Range flightseeing can be an excellent idea for your first contact with these parks: the Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley. We are planning another, this time a much longer backpacking adventure to both of these inaccessible parks.

Wildlife and Vegetation

The Brooks Range is home to polar bears, wolves, grizzly bears, Dall’s sheep, foxes, and snowshoe hares. It’s also the migration route of a number of large herds of caribou. Due to its arctic climate, the landscape is mostly of grasses and shrubs with alpine tundra and sedges. The treeline is located in the southernmost part of the range, about 300 miles north of Fairbanks.


The climate is quite arid. While other Alaskan mountain ranges to the south and closer to the coast may receive 250 inches ( 640 cm to 500 inches ( 1,300 cm) of snowfall, the average snowfall in this area is reported at 30 inches (76 cm) to 51 inches (130 cm).

Average summer temperatures measured at the weather station at Anaktuvuk Pass are 16 °C (61 °F) as a high and 3 °C (37 °F) as a low. In winter, the average maximum temperature is -22 °C (-8 °F), and the average minimum temperature is -30 °C (-22 °F).

During our visit, we had to postpone our sightseeing flight. The first time, when we were supposed to fly, the weather conditions made it impossible to take off and have a safe trip. A few days after, we had great weather and spectacular views. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable and often surprising, so pack appropriately for your Alaska trip.

Brooks Range Scenic Flight
Chris during Brooks Range Scenic Flight

Brooks Range Scenic Flight – How to Organize a Trip?

Scenic Flight with Coyote Air from Coldfoot

We organized Brooks Range Flightseeing and a trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park with the small Alaskan company Coyote Air. They operate from Coldfoot Airport from June 1st until September 15th. They offer flightseeing trips into the Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park, and Kobuk Valley National Parks. Check their official website and book your adventure. We sincerely recommend them, as described in our review. They are true professionals, enthusiasts, and experts in this part of the Alaskan wilderness.

OUR TIP: Remember that you have to drive to Coldfoot, which is on mile 175 of the gravel Dalton Highway gravel. It’s 254 miles from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, and driving time is at least 6 hours without stops along the way. Before you hit the road, check out our safety tips for navigating the Dalton Highway and camping along the Dalton Highway. The best idea is to stay the night before your Brooks Range scenic flight at Coldfoot or the nearby Marion Creek Campground (as we did).

Our scenic flight over the Brooks Range lasted over an hour, and no words can describe our delight or the majesty and power of the mountains we experienced. So here are some photos and our short video from both the Brooks Range scenic flight and the visit to the Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Scenic Flights from Fairbanks and Bettles Field

You can choose from several other operators organizing services and scenic flights over the Alaska Arctic. We have not used their services, so we do not evaluate or recommend them. We only indicate what options you can consider.

  • Air Arctic Charter organizes scenic flights over the Brooks Mountain Range from Fairbanks.
  • Brooks Range Aviation offers services in the Arctic Region of Alaska. They specialize in custom trips. They operate from Bettles since 1987. However, Bettles is a fly-in-only town except in late winter when the winter road is open. So, contact them directly to check their offer. They specialize primarily in transporting backpackers, rafters, hunters, researchers, and sightseers into the Brooks Range.

OUR TIP: A Brooks Range flightseeing from Fairbanks is worth considering if you have limited time to travel through Dalton Highway or a vehicle not adapted to driving on a difficult gravel road. You can admire the most beautiful places on this route from a bird’s eye view.

Brooks Range Scenic Flight

Frequently Asked Questions

Does anyone live in the Brooks Range, Alaska?

People have lived in and around the Brooks Range for tens of thousands of years. The range is home to Alaska’s Native, including the Athapaskan, Iñupiat, Gwich’in, Koyukon, and Nunamiut.

What is the highest point in the Brooks Range?

Mount Isto, with an elevation of 8,976 ft (2,736 m), is the highest peak in the Brooks Range. It’s located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the Romanzof Mountains, 5 miles (8 km) south of Mount Hubley, the second-highest peak in the range.

Is the Brooks Range the same as the Alaska Range?

No. This range is separated from the Alaska Range, which lies to the south, by the plains and plateaus of the Yukon and Porcupine River systems.

Can you drive to the Brooks Range?

The Brooks Range has no road access. You can get there by air taxi. The only road along the Brooks Range is 414 miles long, Dalton Highway. It stretches north of Fairbanks, crosses Arctic Circle, and runs through Atigun Pass to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse on the coast of the Arctic Ocean.

How do I get to the Brooks Range?

The best idea is to get an air taxi from Coldfoot Airport on milepost 175 of Dalton Highway. Another option is taking an air taxi from Fairbanks.

Are there polar bears in the Brooks Range?

Polar bears live along the North Slope of Alaska, the region of coastline north of the Brooks Mountain Range, in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska communities, Kaktovik and Utqiagvik (Barrow), offer limited opportunities for polar bear viewing.

Brooks Range flightseeing

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