Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Alaska Region   

Icon of Blue Goose Compass. 
      Click compass to view Refuge map.

Facts and Features of the Refuge

  • It is the Nation's largest and most northerly National Wildlife Refuge; South Carolina could almost fit inside its borders.

  • Approximately eight million acres (out of a total of over 19 million acres) are designated as Wilderness, more than on any other National Wildlife Refuge.

  • The majestic Brooks Range rises from its coastal plain only 10-40 miles from the Beaufort Sea.

  • It includes the four highest peaks and most of the glaciers in the Brooks Range.

  • There are 18 major rivers: three designated as Wild (Sheenjek, Ivishak, and Wind).

  • It includes three major physiographic areas (arctic tundra, Brooks Range, and boreal forest), which contain a full range of arctic and subarctic habitats.

  • It contains the greatest variety of plant and animal life of any conservation area in the circumpolar north.

  • 200+ bird species from all continents except Europe have been seen there.

  • It is home to 37 species of land mammals.

  • It protects most of the calving grounds for the Porcupine caribou herd, the second largest herd in Alaska.

  • It contains all three species of North American bears (black, brown, and polar).

  • Eight marine mammal species live along its coast.

  • 25 fish species inhabit its rivers and lakes.

  • There are no roads, developments, or trails. You must fly, boat, or walk to get there.

  • The spirit of wilderness prevails there.

  • It offers outstanding scenery and recreation.

  • It is as primitive and undisturbed as any conservation area in the Nation.

  • It is home to North America's farthest north Dall sheep population.

  • It is the only national conservation area that provides a complete range of arctic ecosystems.

  • It has two designated Research Natural Areas.

  • Marine waters within its northern boundary are designated as a National Marine Protected Area.

  • More than 300 archaeological sites have been found there.

  • It contains North America's two largest and most northerly alpine lakes (Peters and Schrader).

  • Kaktovik, an Inupiaq Eskimo village, and Arctic Village, a Gwich'in Indian community, are located on its north and south boundaries.

  • Its coast is a major migration route for several waterfowl species.

  • Numerous prominent geological formations, including a range of permafrost and glacial features, are found there.

  • It contains several warm springs, which support plant species unique to the area.

  • The Nation's northernmost breeding population of golden eagles occurs there.

  • It borders two Canadian national parks.

  • It is used by two different caribou herds.

  • Continuous light prevails there from late April to mid-August; the sun stays below the horizon from mid-November to mid-January.

  • It has no known introduced species.

  • Permafrost underlies most of it, helping to keep the landscape wet and productive in summer.

  • Huge fields of overflow ice ("aufeis") form along many of its rivers every winter.

  • It is open to public use year-round, offering unparalleled opportunities to experience solitude, challenge, and adventure.

December 2, 2010