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Overview

One of Alaska's most remote areas, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge occupies the northeastern corner of the state, bordered by the Canadian Yukon to the east and the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the west. This 20-million-acre refuge is often called by it's acronym, ANWR, and has been the focus of a political tug-of-war between those seeking to drill for oil on the Arctic shore and those striving to keep it a wilderness. Summers are filled with wildlife activity, from the millions of nesting geese, swans, ducks, and other birds to the 150,000 caribou that migrate here to feed and raise young. The northern edge of the refuge contains myriad ...

One of Alaska's most remote areas, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge occupies the northeastern corner of the state, bordered by the Canadian Yukon to the east and the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the west. This 20-million-acre refuge is often called by it's acronym, ANWR, and has been the focus of a political tug-of-war between those seeking to drill for oil on the Arctic shore and those striving to keep it a wilderness. Summers are filled with wildlife activity, from the millions of nesting geese, swans, ducks, and other birds to the 150,000 caribou that migrate here to feed and raise young. The northern edge of the refuge contains myriad ponds and marshy areas, with the Brooks Range and several large rivers dominating the center. Much of the land is treeless tundra, though shrubs are dense along the rivers, with black spruce forests on the southern margins of the refuge. Access is almost entirely by air taxi from Fairbanks or Bettles. There are no developed facilities in the refuge, but small planes can land on the tundra. Several companies lead wilderness river trips down the Kongakut or Hulahula Rivers. Just north of the refuge is Barter Island and the village of Kaktovik, with lodging and food. A couple of local businesses offer polar bear viewing trips here in September and October.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    July and August are the primary times to visit. Winters are very harsh.