Bettles Lodge is located 35 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in the foothills of the Brooks Range along the Koyukuk River. The Arctic is known as one of the last true pristine wilderness areas in the world. Our location is a fly-in only adventure, unless you prefer to travel when the Ice Road is open during the months of February & March.
Bettles Lodge has specialized in custom trips to the Brooks Range for the past 30 years. Creating a unique experience, Bettles is far from the beaten path, a real Alaska Lodge with plenty of character and characters! Bettles Lodge and Air Service are proud to provide professional, safe and efficient aviation services in addition to our all-inclusive Summer and Winter Tours; Hotel, Restaurant, Gift Shop, Bar, and Aviation Fueling & Parking for those who travel in their own airplane. We specialize in accommodating your modern adventures.
Bettles was named after Gordon C. Bettles, who founded Bettles in 1898 during the last great gold rush in Alaska. Gordon, who had been a newspaper writer like his friend Jack London the famous author, established a trading post at the junction of the John River and the Koyukuk River. Large steam-powered paddle boats brought miners and their supplies into the region. The paddle boats traveled up the Yukon and onto the Koyukuk River to arrive at Bettles. Supplies and miners were transferred to horse-drawn barges for the last 100 miles of travel to where the gold fields were located on the middle fork of the Koyukuk. As the gold rush came to an end and aircraft replaced the riverboat as the main mode of transportation, the community migrated to the airstrip built up-river, 6 miles from the original location.
The first building in New Bettles was the Bettles Lodge. Wien Airlines built the Lodge for the many travelers who passed through Bettles. Wien Airlines was established by the most famous bush pilot in Alaska history, Noel Wien. This Historic Lodge was the first of several Wien Lodges around the state and is on the National Historic Register. The Koyukuk River, on which Bettles is located, was the traditional dividing line between the Inupiaq Eskimos and the Athabaskan Indians. Located adjacent to Bettles is the Native Community of Evansville which is unique by being both an Indian and Eskimo Village. The Native Community continues to live the subsistence life style of their ancestors gathering local berries and harvesting fish from the Koyukuk in the summer months. During the fall, locals from both Bettles and Evansville gather their yearly meat supply by hunting moose and caribou. Skins from these animals are used to make various clothing and native arts. During the winter season, trapping of small, fur-bearing animals is done, with the furs either being sold "raw" or made into hats, gloves, and other clothing. Native crafts are available for purchase in the Bettles Lodge gift shop.
During the 1970's, the United States Congress recognized the uniqueness of the Brooks Range and set aside approximately 8½ million acres of wilderness, designated as the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Named by the famous naturalist Robert Marshall, The Gates of the Arctic National Park is five times larger than Yellowstone and encompasses an ecosystem so unique that much of it has been designated a World Ecological Zone. Located within the boundaries of the park are the Arrigetch Peaks which are a spectacular display of granite peaks. The name Arrigetch means 'fingers of the outstretched hand' in the Inupiat language. The Arrigetch Peaks is a popular location for more experienced hikers and rock climbers. The Arrigetch also offers spectacular flight seeing opportunities.
The Bettles Lodge was purchased by the Klaes Family in 1982. At the time of purchase it was what Alaskans called a "fly-in" road house - a place that pilots came for an overnight rest. The Bush Pilots not only filled up on gas but also on the famous slice of Bettles Lodge pie. Dan and Lynda Klaes moved to Alaska from Colorado as a young and adventuress couple. They found new challenges and a place to call home in the Last Frontier. Dan traveled to many places including Switzerland and Japan to promote tourism in the Arctic throughout the 1980's through the new millennium, he was a new kind of pioneer in the Alaskan Tourism Industry. Dan and Lynda did not just move to Bettles to start a business, they moved for the lifestyle that the arctic wilderness provided. The Bettles Lodge is now a unique blend of bush pilots, locals and guests from all over the world. A lodge created for Alaskans by Alaskans offers a special opportunity to see Alaska the way it has been and continues to be. The history of the building and the village make it fascinating to visit. The local culture and Alaskan traffic give a traveler a real sense of Alaska today.
In 1994 the business was expanded with the addition of the Aurora Lodge. Soon to follow in 2004, the Aurora Cabin was added, giving clients the opportunity to enjoy a 360-degree view of the northern lights away from the village yet in comfort.
During the summer months there are 24 hours of daylight and the temperatures go as high as the nineties and average 70 degrees F. Many summer adventurers visit the Brooks Range and Gates of the Arctic to experience the vast wilderness under the Midnight Sun. There are no roads in the Gates of the Arctic park, and the only access is provide by aircraft. Bettles Lodge and Air Service provide air travel into the park utilizing both wheel and float-equipped aircraft. There are five designated "wild and scenic" rivers in the Gates of the Arctic. Many of the rivers are used by floaters to travel through the park. Floating allows spectacular opportunities to view some of the varied wildlife and scenery the park has to offer. Northern portions of the park offer a treeless alpine environment where 2-foot willows may be 50 years old. The Arctic Tundra offers a special beauty all of its own with spectacular wildflowers and many animals. The southern portion of the park is covered by a taiga forest of spruce and birch. Both areas offer a fantastic opportunity to view breathtaking scenery in the farthest-most mountain range in the world.
Experience & Family Tradition Combined
Dan taught his wife Lynda to fly in 1987, purchasing her first airplane, a Super Cub, as a mother's day present. Next he taught both his children to fly, sharing his passion and aviation knowledge.
Lynda has been putting together trip packages for her guests for over 25 years, creating a unique experience for each client. Jamie also specializes in custom trip packages, back country excursions, winter and summer adventures, from single to group travel – we create the unique vacation you desire with the information provided by you. Tyler, our chief pilot and local fishing guide, has thousands of Alaska flight hours – as well as incredible information on the area, animals and places to fish in the Brooks Range. With 30 years of experience, the Klaes family offers vast knowledge of the area, safe and reliable air charter services, incredible hospitality and something that other places don't have – a glimpse of real Alaska.