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fireweedfinger rock.jpg Wiseman St websurroundings web 1moose on roadwinter semi.jpgsnow cased trees on Dalton..jpg

Photos by Scott & Heidi Schoppenhorst

(left to right) Fields of fireweed in burn area N of Yukon River, Finger Rock (Feb), Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River at turnoff from Dalton Hwy,

East view of mountains across from Wiseman, Watch out for other travelers! Snow encases black spruce along the Dalton in winter.

How to get here:

Wiseman is located 272 miles (435 km) north of Fairbanks, which is the nearest city, and 13 miles north of Coldfoot, which is the nearest service area with food & fuel available.  The turnoff to Wiseman Village is located at Milepost 188.5 on the Dalton Highway, just over the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River bridge, and it is 3 miles (4.8 km) into the village.

Driving from Fairbanks is the most common means of travel to Wiseman. To reach the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks, you will need to get on the Elliott Highway, which will link up with the Dalton 84 miles (134 km) north. The highway is paved from Fairbanks to Gold Creek, which is approx 10 miles (16 km) north of Wiseman. However, there are intermittent stretches of gravel road for approx. 78 miles (125 km) to the south of Coldfoot. Dalton is gravel north of Gold Creek, with intermittent paved stretches, and well maintained.

There are also commercial flying services that fly into Coldfoot from Fairbanks, Coldfoot Camp offers van service to Wiseman (check with them prior for schedule & fees), and Commercial van service from Fairbanks is available through Fairbanks based companies, as well as rental car companies. Please write or call for more information on travel services & visit our links page.


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Photos by Scott & Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left) Wiseman Trading Co. was established in 1910. Although closed for many years, it is now open seasonally offering T-shirts and limited gifts for sale, and provides the opportunity for viewing many antiques from the early days. (Center) Wiseman Post Office, closed in 1956, was first opened in Coldfoot 1912, and later moved to Wiseman. Today mail is received once again through the contract Post Office in Coldfoot. (Right) Historic cabin near Boreal Lodge, Kahalabuk Memorial Chapel (always open!), full woodshed, reflected sunlight on mid-December sky.

Wiseman History:

Wiseman was established in 1907 to accommodate the needs of the growing number of gold miners and prospectors drawn to the placer rich creeks of this Koyukuk valley. Primarily a trading community, Wiseman once supported a population of about 250 residents, and maintained a post office, general store, roadhouse, Pioneer Hall, telegraph office, and school. This is one of the few white founded communities located north of the Yukon River, and is the furthest north “gold rush” settlement in the Brooks Range still in existence today. The Koyukuk valley has also been rated 6th in gold production for the State.

  The intrigue of such a remote community, surrounded by the Brooks Range wilderness attracted early visitors as well, such as Bob Marshall in 1929, the first “tourist” to the Brooks Range. He ended up spending about 13 months here. Published accounts of his experiences in this area are the books, Arctic Village, and Alaska Wilderness. The approx. 8.5 million acre “Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve”, borders to the west of the village of Wiseman. The name is derived from an account of Bob Marshall’s journey west into the North Fork of the Koyukuk River Valley, and refers to the mountains of Boreal and Frigid Crags. 

  Wiseman’s population has fluctuated throughout the years, but the town has never been abandoned. Though there are still many gold miners and prospectors in the area during the summer months, the adventure of an arctic subsistence lifestyle has intrigued and held others in this remote community year-round.  The land in Wiseman is privately owned. The owners have restored and continue to use the original log cabins from the early days.



Services are limited; the Wiseman Trading Co. is open seasonally, and businesses & services open year round are the Kalhabuk Memorial Chapel, Boreal Lodge, B&B, and local residents offering furs, and jewelry. Boreal Lodging offers some local gifts and limited groceries/essentials in the office gift shop open primarily May through September, and will open on request during winter months. Heidi Schoppenhorst is a contract vendor for fishing & hunting licenses, and licenses / tags can be purchased from her at the Boreal Lodge. Currently there are no restaurants or gas stations in Wiseman, visitors have the option of bringing their own food from Fairbanks (recommended - Boreal Lodge offers full cooking facilities), or Coldfoot Camp serves meals and has fuel for sale. There are no other stores in Wiseman or Coldfoot, please plan ahead for any anticipated supplies needed before leaving Fairbanks.


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sukakpak with pipeline.jpgfall color chandalar shelf.jpgdeitrich color.jpgreflection PossSurroundings web 3midnight sun behind mountains.jpg 

Photos by Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to right) Sukakpak Mt., located at MP 204, viewed from the north with pipeline in foreground, autumn color graces the Brooks Range – viewed from atop Chandalar Shelf, color along the Dietrich River, view of Poss Mt. reflection, about 8 miles north of Wiseman, midnight sun highlights clouds over Emma Dome between Coldfoot/Wiseman.


The Brooks Mountain Range runs east to west and stretches nearly 720 miles across northern Alaska. Wiseman is located within the heart of this rugged & beautiful Range, approximately 75 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and approximately 50 miles south of the Continental Divide, (halfway between Fairbanks & oilfields of Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Ocean). Wilderness stretches either side of the Dalton Highway, and is home to grizzly & black bears, Dall sheep, moose, caribou, Musk Ox, wolves, and a variety of smaller furbearers. Migratory birds travel from around the world each spring to reach the arctic in search of nesting grounds. Over 180 species of migratory birds have been counted within the Brooks Range, and on the rolling arctic tundra of the North Slope & Coastal Plain. 

Wiseman is surrounded by public lands; located within the BLM utility corridor, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline runs through this Koyukuk River valley across from Wiseman. To the west, Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, the second largest Park in our system (and all wilderness) parallels the valley directly behind Wiseman. To the northeast, the furthest western border of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (largest Wildlife Refuge in the refuge system) comes very close to the Dalton Hwy Just over the Continental Divide across from Galbraith Lake.

To find out more about these public lands, please visit the links below:

    expbul1a Dalton Highway Corridor

    expbul1a Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve

    expbul1a Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


expbul1aVisit our Wildlife page to learn more about what you may see & when to see it!


pipline and color gold creek.jpg  Nolan Aspens web  rainbow gulch web pipeling & color mountian.jpg fall color nolan Rd 

Photos by Scott & Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to right) pipeline & fall color north of Wiseman, Aspen leaves turning color on the Nolan Rd (2 miles NW of Wiseman), Rainbow Gulch – about 5 miles north of Wiseman, Pipeline  & rugged mountains north of Wiseman, another pretty scene from the Nolan Road (west of Wiseman).


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 freeze up river web arctic circle sign.jpg Dillon Mt. viewed from Dalton in August.jpg Kalhabuk, winter.jpg snowdon.jpg

Photos by Scott, Chris, Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to Right) Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River, Arctic Circle sign at pull-off 74 miles south of Wiseman, Dillon Mt viewed from Dalton in August., fresh snow on mountains viewed behind Lodge (Oct), Snowdon Mt. about 30 miles N. of Wiseman.

Features – What to Expect:

 Seasons are very dramatic here in the arctic!

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Photos by Scott, Chris, Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to Right) Alpenglow, Wiseman Crk. Canyon overflow ice, snow peaks, pink Nov. sky, Aurora,-35 F, Jan 1st,07, fresh snow behind Wiseman, Dalton overlooking Yukon River (south)


The most quiet & peaceful time of the year ~ also the longest season in the arctic. The ground, rivers, and creeks begin to freeze up by late September, and generally we have snow that stays by mid-October. Snowfall accumulations can range between 2 – 7 feet during a winter, but on average we have about 2 – 3 feet on the ground. Temperatures will range anywhere from 30 degrees F above zero, to –65 degrees F below zero, and weather changes quickly since we are in the mountains & close to the Continental Divide. The sun dips below the southern horizon around December 5th, not to return until approx. Jan.8th – during this time, there are still a few hours of daylight, but not sunlight. The advantage of all the darkness is more time to view the Aurora Borealis! - Which is spectacular from this location and can be viewed most every clear night, offering great photography opportunities. February & March are excellent months to experience winter in the arctic – long sunny days of March provide enough warmth to get out & enjoy the country, whether driving up the road to check out the scenery, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, or just hiking around. Dog sled rides & trips are offered nearby from a local Coldfoot resident.

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Photos by Chris, Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to Right) Snow buntings arrival in April marks spring has arrived! Koyukuk River ice break up/high water near Wiseman, Spring crocus, looking toward Wiseman from across river, Bluebells by Lodge,

ewe & lamb near Atigun Pass, night light on Kahalabuk Mt in June


Ice in the rivers & creeks start to melt & break up between mid-April and mid-May. Along with the appearance of all this water, the migratory birds begin to arrive by the hundreds, stopping off throughout this valley on their journey north to the wetlands of the North Slope tundra. Spring is also the time of year to view more wildlife in the Wiseman area and along the Dalton, as this valley tends to melt first close to the road & offers a good place for wild critters to have their young; moose, Dall sheep in Atigun Pass, caribou & Musk Oxen on the north slope are all calving this time of year. Grizzly & black bears, wolves & fox all tend to come near to the road as well, in search of an easy meal. Early spring, during breakup, is a poor time for hiking or attempting any type of float trip on the rivers, but does offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunity, and generally fewer visitors to the area.

dalphinium antler gate.jpg mf sweet pea sun.jpg white fireweed in Wiseman.jpg gold panning wild rose.jpgtundra rose rainbow over gate fireweed solctise.jpg

Photos by Chris, Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to Right) Delphiniums near spruce gate, wild sweet pea blooms along Wiseman Road near Koyukuk River, rare white fireweed, gold panning, Wild Rose, Tundra Rose, double rainbow over Boreal Lodging gate, Midnight sun over Brooks Range w/fireweed on Solstice.


By mid-June the ground has dried up, trees are leafing out, and the wildflowers are in full bloom. June offers 24 hours of sunlight, only dipping behind the mountain peaks at  “night”, but never actually setting – this will peak on Summer Solstice, June 21st. June generally offers clear skies & the best of summer weather, temperatures will occasionally reach into the mid 70’s & 80’s during June & July, but tend to average in the 60’s.  Hiking, photography, gold panning, river floating, flight seeing, & sport fishing for grayling in the streams along the Dalton are all possible pastimes in the area. The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot is also open June – August, and offers information on all of the above activities, nightly slide presentations, and an educational book / gift shop.

06 fall color colors on shelf.jpg  fall color yellow gate.jpgcolor a fall scene north of Wiseman.jpg autumn Hammond.jpgfall Atigun 

Photos by Chris, Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to Right) Fall color 10 miles N of Wiseman, Chandalar shelf in August, ripe cranberries w/red dwarf birch, yellow cottonwood leaves in Sept, august color N. of Wiseman, first snow looking south on Atigun Pass.


Summer is already on its way out by the second week of August, and by the 3rd week the tundra on the mountains & surrounding landscape is alive with color. Wild blueberries & cranberries in the area are ripe, and dwarf Birch, berry bushes, Cottonwoods, & Aspen present a spectacular color show after the first frost. Wildlife again becomes more visible as the leaves fall, and grizzlies are commonly viewed from the highway as they search for berries & other snacks before their long winter’s sleep. Migratory birds again travel through this valley on their long journey back south. Fall is prime time for hiking & photography – cooler weather also means less mosquitoes. Rivers do not tend to start freezing again until late September, so floating, gold panning, & fishing are all still possible activities.


winter pink road web Boreal Cabin.jpg fireweed.jpgnugget creek color  Surroundings Lodge winter web  IMG_4890.JPG

Photos by Scott & Heidi Schoppenhorst

(Left to Right) Scenery on Dalton in early January, Boreal Cabin, Fireweed, Fall colors north of Wiseman late August, Lodge in winter, last sun on Poss Mt viewed behind Lodge (Dec).


Boreal Lodging offers a great staging location for any of the above activities. Whether you are just looking for a place to overnight on your way to the Arctic Ocean, or would like to spend a few days or a week to enjoy the wilderness & history of this area. We are off the highway, and provide comfortable accommodations with the most reasonable rates in the area. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have to help plan your trip to the arctic, and will offer honest advise & suggestions regarding any activity you may be interested in.                          Hope to see you soon!




Phone / Fax: 907.678.4566






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Last revised: March 2020

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