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Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk Valley National Park - BEST Places to Picnic

PO Box 1029
Kotzebue, AK 99752

By Phone
Headquarters
907-442-3890
Summer Visitor Center Information
907-442-3760

WELCOME to a Wilderness Adventure

Caribou, sand dunes, the Kobuk River, Onion Portage - just some of the facets of Kobuk Valley National Park. Half a million caribou migrate through, their tracks crisscrossing sculpted dunes. The Kobuk River is an ancient and current path for people and wildlife. For 9000 years, people came to Onion Portage to harvest caribou as they swam the river. Even today, that rich tradition continues.

Commercial airlines provide service from Anchorage to Kotzebue or Fairbanks to Bettles. Once in Kotzebue or Bettles, you must fly to the park with various air taxi operators. There are scheduled flights to villages and chartered flights to remote park areas. Summer access may include motorized/non-motorized watercraft, aircraft, or by foot. (Note: Traveling by foot in the summer would be an arduous, roundabout journey.) Winter access may include snowmobiles, aircraft or by foot.

The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes

The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes lie 40 miles above the Arctic Circle, yet summer temperatures there can soar to 100 degress Fahrenheit! One of Alaska's true oddities, in some places, the sand stands 100 feet high. The three clusters of dunes within the park � the Great Kobuk, the Little Kobuk, and the Hunt River Sand Dunes � cover 25 square miles and constitute the largest active sand dunes within arctic latitudes.

National Historic Landmark at Kobuk Valley National Park

For thousands of years, vast numbers of caribou have passed through this area on their seasonal migrations between tundra and taiga. Drawn by these herds, hunters, both ancient and modern, have stationed themselves at the vantage point afforded by the site's location to await their coming.

Stretching from the Baird Mountains on the north to the Kobuk Sand Dunes in the south, Kobuk Valley National Park occupies a broad valley that supports caribou, salmon, loons, the rare Kobuk locoweed, wolves and native culture. The park�s 1.7 million acres sit in a semi-enclosed bowl about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The boreal forest reaches its northern limit here, resulting in an open woodland of small trees in a mat of thick tundra. The Western Arctic caribou herd travels through this area during its migration. The tracks of nearly � a million caribou mark the tundra and the towering sand dunes in the southern designated wilderness area of the park. Local residents hunt caribou near the river today, much as they have for the last 9000 years.

Far from the hustle and bustle of other Alaskan destinations, the magnificent scenery and untamed nature of this national park allows you to experience genuine �Wild Alaska� on its own terms. Your possibilities here are vast. Whether immersing yourself in archeological prehistory, boating down the languid Kobuk River, thrilling your senses on a scenic flight, camping, or charting your own backcountry trek, the country is ready for those willing and prepared to enter it. Whatever adventure you choose, please remember to leave cultural artifacts and natural features as you find them for others to enjoy.

Access and services here are limited when compared to traditional National Parks you may have visited elsewhere. What the area may lack in services, it more than makes up for in friendly people and an un-crowded wilderness experience.

You'll find no roads, no gift shops, and no parking facilities within the park. Trails don't exist; neither do campgrounds. Not even the park headquarters or visitor center are within the park. Both facilities are in Kotzebue, Alaska - an airplane ride away.

Kobuk Valley�s visitor isn�t your average tourist. They tend to be skilled backcountry explorers familiar with surviving potential high winds, rain, and snow � and that's in the summer months. Winter visits are recommended only to outdoorspeople experienced in arctic camping and survival techniques. The ranger staff can provide valuable information on conditions and logistics for first time travelers.

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