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Overview

Located along the Kobuk River in northwestern Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park covers 1.7 million acres of Arctic terrain. The northern half rises into the Baird Mountains, with the wide Kobuk River Valley to the south. The park is best known for its sand dunes, particularly the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes along Kavet Creek just south of the Kobuk River. These dunes — some are 100 feet high — cover 24 square miles of country, and are one of Alaska's oddities of nature. They're the largest active dunes in Arctic North America. The dunes were formed when sand created by glaciers was blown by strong winds. Older areas of dunes are now vegetated ...

Located along the Kobuk River in northwestern Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park covers 1.7 million acres of Arctic terrain. The northern half rises into the Baird Mountains, with the wide Kobuk River Valley to the south. The park is best known for its sand dunes, particularly the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes along Kavet Creek just south of the Kobuk River. These dunes — some are 100 feet high — cover 24 square miles of country, and are one of Alaska's oddities of nature. They're the largest active dunes in Arctic North America. The dunes were formed when sand created by glaciers was blown by strong winds. Older areas of dunes are now vegetated with small trees, but the western edge remains active, with only a few hardy plants. There are no trails or other facilities in the park. Access to the dunes is via the Kobuk River from the villages of Ambler or Kiana, but it's a two-mile hike to the dunes. Small planes can also land on the dunes; most depart from Kotzebue. Park headquarters is in Kotzebue, home to a large, newly opened visitor center. Visitors to Kobuk Valley National Park need to be prepared for wilderness conditions, including potential bear encounters. A large herd of caribou migrates through the region each spring and fall. Kayakers, canoeists, and rafters sometimes float the gentle and slow-moving Kobuk River.

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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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Kobuk Valley National Park is in northwestern Alaska 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was designated a United States National Park in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June through mid-September