USFWS
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Alaska Region   

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

A Special Place

  • The Arctic Refuge was established in 1960 as a promise to the American people to preserve “wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.”

  • It is the Nation’s largest and most northern National Wildlife Refuge, containing a full range of arctic and subarctic habitats.

  • Vast and remote, this 19.3 million acre Refuge is the size of South Carolina, and contains 8 million acres of designated Wilderness.

  • North to south the Refuge extends 200 miles–from the Arctic coast, across the tundra plain, over the glacier-capped peaks of the Brooks Range, and into the spruce and birch forests of the Yukon River basin.

  • The Refuge is a place of wildness, where timeless ecological and evolutionary processes continue in their natural ebb and flow.

  • It is a laboratory where scientists seek to understand the natural dynamics of an undisturbed landscape.

  • The Refuge shares common borders with Ivvavik and Vuntut National Parks in Canada.

  • This has been a homeland for thousands of years–to the Inupiat Eskimos of the north coast and the Athabascan Indians of interior Alaska and northwest Canada.

  • There is continuous light from late April to mid-August, then the sun stays below the horizon from mid-November to mid-January.

  • All three species of North American bear (black, grizzly, and polar) den within Refuge borders.

  • More than 20 rivers flow within the Refuge–three designated as Wild Rivers (Sheenjek, Ivishak and Wind).

  • The most biologically diverse conservation unit in the circumpolar north, the Refuge supports 45 species of land and marine mammals, 36 species of fish, and more than 194 species of birds from six continents.

  • The 120,000 strong Porcupine Caribou herd migrates throughout the Refuge and northwestern Canada, and regularly comes to the coastal plain to give birth and nurture their young.

  • The Refuge is home to muskoxen and thousands of Dall sheep.

  • There are no roads, trails or commercial developments. Visitors must fly, boat or walk to get here.

  • Open to the public year-round, the Arctic Refuge is a place where the mystery of nameless valleys remains alive, where visitors can experience solitude, self-reliance, exploration, adventure, and challenge.


September 12, 2008