Packraft: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Emily Sullivan


Denali National Park, Alaska

Cairn Project Ambassador Emily Sullivan pauses on a ski tour with snow covered trees behind her

About Emily Sullivan

Emily is a skier, backcountry guide, and photographer who splits her time between Denali National Park, AK and Missoula, MT. Emily’s reverence for wild places comes through in her beautiful photographs and inspiring stories of mountain exploration.

115 Miles in 7 days

In August, Ambassador Emily Sullivan is heading to remote northwest Alaska to explore the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on foot and by packraft. This 115 mile adventure will build off of Emily’s off-trail experience in Denali National Park, and will retrace some of Mardy Murie’s historic explorations in ANWR. Known as the Grandmother of Conservation, Murie and her explorations were essential in creating and protecting the Refuge. Her birthday is in August – one of the best times for exploring the tundra and celebrating the importance of women in the outdoors and in conservation. Fundraising goal: $5000.

At 19 million acres, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the US’s largest wildlife refuge and largest and wildest piece of publicly-owned land in the country. Home to polar bears, wolves, caribou, eagles, and migratory birds, the Refuge was founded in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt. The Refuge is also home to Gwich’in indigenous communities, who have lived in the landscape for thousands of years. Despite the cultural and ecological significance of this national treasure, efforts to open more areas for drilling continue under the current administration. Learn more about the landscape and about current efforts to protect it at Patagonia, the Gwich’in Steering Committee, and national environmental organizations including the Sierra ClubDefenders of Wildlife, and Audobon.

Map showing Emily's route in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Emily sits on a mountaintop with her dog in her lap as the sun sets behind them

Why Get Out and Give Back?

“I have been inspired by my time in the outdoors and in wilderness to be more passionate about conservation, and I can only hope that getting girls out into our public lands for recreation will spark the same passion in them. I believe that women have the heart, the strength, and the compassion to change the world, and this next generation of young women will be crucial to protecting our environment as we know it.”

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