Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
Alaska Region

Icon of Blue Goose Compass. Click on the compass to view a map of the refuge (pdf)


Visiting the Refuge

Journey to a Wildlife Paradise

Clouds of seabirds, rare birds from Asia, unique species found nowhere else, velvety green tundra ablaze with flowers, World War II battlefields, dramatic coastlines, sand beaches of every color, and steaming volcanoes are just some of the delights awaiting visitors to the Alaska Maritime Refuge. It is not, however, an easy refuge to visit. Only in a few wildlife viewing hotspots is access doable for most people. 

Travel Beyond the End of the Road

A journey to the far-flung lands of the Alaska Maritime Refuge almost always involves a boat. You will be in good historic company. Boats are how the first inhabitants of these islands and coastal lands traveled, and it's how the refuge research crews usually reach their destinations.

Tour boats, ferries, planes , cruise ships or your own boat can transport you to parts of the refuge. No refuge lands are accessible from the road system. Homer and Seward are the only road accessible communities near the refuge. All other communities in and near the refuge are accessible by scheduled air service and some such as Sitka, Seldovia, Kodiak, Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan and Unalaska also have ferry service.

Road, Air Links to Visitor Center, Headquarters

For those not ready to set sail, the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center and Refuge headquarter in Homer, Alaska, can be reached by vehicle and scheduled aircraft from Anchorage (225 miles).

Challenges and Dangers

Nature and man have added challenges to journeying here. Alaska's vast distances and coastal weather can complicate travel plans. WWII hazards such as unexploded ordnance, contaminants and sharp hazardous objects can be found on the remote islands of Kiska, Attu, Adak and many others. To learn more about travel challenges follow this link.

Closed Areas

Most of the refuge is open to public use and permits are not required for non-commercial use. However, nearly all sea lion rookeries are closed to protect the endangered Steller sea lion. Buldir and Bogoslof islands and many other sea lion rookeries are closed to all boat access within 3 nautical miles of the rookery. For a complete listing and map of closed rookeries visit this National Marine Fisheries website. Amchitka Island has been closed to all public access since 2008 due to ongoing contaminants work related to the underground nuclear testing that occurred on the island in the 1960's and 1970's

Travel Tips for a Great Journey

Find information at this link for how to dress, when to come for best wildlife viewing, and proper etiquette for interacting with precious coastal resources and refuge neighbors.

A Wilderness Refuge

There are no campgrounds on the refuge although camping is allowed on most of the refuge. Recreational facilities on the refuge are limited to short trails on Adak, Unalaska and the Pribilofs. Nearby villages and towns offer visitor services.

For More Help

Contact the refuge, for more information on visiting the less accessible parts of the refuge.


Last updated: August 11, 2011