4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
Aquarius Valley is perhaps the most frequented side trip from Arrigetch Valley.
Aquarius is famed for its string of photogenic alpine lakes.
These iridescent pools sit high above the timberline, fringed by just a touch of green among miles of granite rubble beneath rows of sheer-walled peaks. The route mapped here begins from a possible basecamp location near Arrigetch Creek and makes a return trip to the head of Aquarius Valley.
You may choose to cover it in a day or to camp somewhere along the route.
The mapped track is only an approximation, so you can expect to deviate significantly as you navigate the terrain.
As with other routes in the area, this does not follow a defined trail, so take care to minimize your impact on the tundra.
Walk on rocks or in streams as much as possible. From Arrigetch Creek, you’ll trace a side stream up a valley bound by giant granite teeth.
Turn and follow a smaller tributary into the arm of the drainage that is Aquarius.
A steep rock slope leads into it, then the gradient lessens, but talus hopping remains constant.
The first lake is the largest.
You might find a flat tent spot on ledges near its shore if you choose to camp this high in the valley.
Moving upward, the next lakes are smaller but equally beautiful, with their own shades of blue and unique granite backdrops.
If you continue the extent of the route mapped here, you’ll find the glacier at the top of the valley, plus a view of all the lakes strung out in a row. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/gaar/planyourvisit/backpackingandhiking.htm https://mclaine.org/aquarius-valley/ https://sonjasaxe.com/blog/2016/8/20/the-last-frontier-gates-of-the-arctic-national-park-part-2-of-3