In the glow of the midnight sun, we're paddling down the wild Utukok River in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Here, the wilderness swallows you, from the sweeping tussock grasslands, to the never-ending ridges that flow across the open landscape.
Caribou trails stitch the tundra as far as the eye can see. Wolf tracks lace the sand bars. A bear tears apart a caribou carcass on a distant ridge. This region has the highest concentration of grizzlies and wolverines on the North Slope, along with Alaska's largest caribou herd — the Western Arctic.