Kobuk Valley National Park
PO Box 1029
Kotzebue, AK 99752
Summer Visitor Center Information
WELCOME to a Wilderness
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
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
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
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
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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