Kobuk Valley National Park
USINFO | 2013-08-21 16:52

Kobuk Valley National Park povides protection for several important geographic features, including the central portion of the Kobuk River, the 25-square-mile Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, and the Little Kobuk and Hunt River dunes.

Sand created by the grinding action of ancient glaciers has been carried to the Kobuk Valley by wind and water. Dunes now cover much of the southern portion of the valley and river bluffs hold permafrost ice wedges and the fossils of Ice Age mammals. What makes the park even more spectacular is that nearly half a million caribou migrate through the park twice a year – north in the spring and south in the fall. It is a park worth exploring!

History:Proclaimed Kobuk Valley National Monument on December 1, 1978; established as a national park on December 2, 1980. Wilderness designated on December 2, 1980.

When to Visit:Best to visit during the summer. Days are long (from early June to early July the sun never sets) and temperatures are warm. If you are looking to view wildflowers, plan a trip during mi-June to late July. Visitors traveling in the fall can expect rain but beautiful fall foliage.

Getting There:Kobuk Valley National Park is a remote area and there are no roads that provide access. Visitors must rely on commercial airlines for 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. Visitors traveling in the summer can also travel by motorized/non-motorized watercraft, aircraft, or by foot. Winter access may include snowmobiles, by air, or by foot.

Fees/Permits:There are no entrance fees to visit Kobuk Valley. There are also no permits required to travel or camp within the park.

Things to Do:While it may seem tricky to get into the park, once you’re there you will find endless opportunities of activities. Boating, camping, hiking, backpacking, wildlife watching, photography, and fishing are just a few of your choices. If you visit during the winter months bring other activities like snow machining, skiing, and dog mushing. Community programs are also available throughout the year at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center with topics like natural and cultural history of the park, local research, crafts, and children’s activities. Call (907) 442.3890 before your arrival to learn about upcoming programs.

Things to Keep in Mind:Keep in mind that wildlife is abundant in Alaskan parks. It is important to keep human food and scented items away from bears or any wild animals. Animal-resistant food containers are available for loan from the rangers in Kotzebue. Please practice Leave No Trace skills and be sure you brush up on your bear safety before visiting.

Major Attractions:Onion Portage:A river bend where migrating caribou have crossed for thousands of years.
Great Kobuk Sand Dunes: A 25-square-mile mini-Sahara where visitors can hike.
Kobuk River: A river trip through the park is an exciting way to visit. Travel from Ambler to Kiana for opportunities to hike.

Accommodations:There is no lodging within park walls, nor are there developed campgrounds. Backcountry camping is the only option for visitors who wish to stay inside the park. If you wish to travel into Kotzebue, you will find hotels or motels.

Pets:As there are no accessible trails or roads in Kobuk Valley National Park, it’s best to leave your pets at home.

Contact Info:PO Box 1029
Kotzebue, AK 99752
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