Nowitna 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

Lower Nowitna River.  USFWS.Nowitna Refuge is 150 miles west of Fairbanks, connected only by air and river to the rest of Alaska. Ruby and Tanana are the nearest communities. In winter you can reach the Refuge by snowmachine or by ski-equipped aircraft. Small planes can land on rivers and larger lakes until ice melts in mid-April. You can visit the refuge in summer by boat on the Yukon and Nowitna Rivers, or by floatplane, landing on the larger lakes or rivers. Wheel-equipped planes can land on some gravel bars during low water. There are no all-weather trails or roads on the refuge.

Summer temperatures average 70°F but can reach into the mid 90°s. In winter the average is -5°F with extreme lows dropping to -80°F. You will miss the worst of the mosquitoes by visiting in late May or early June, but bring anti-mosquito defenses throughout the summer. July usually offers the best weather, with warm temperatures and little rain. The first hints of fall come in late August when the leaves turn golden. Soon northern lights begin to appear, dancing across the night skies. Freeze-up generally occurs by mid-October, marking the start of the long winter.

Travel Tips

Some of the greatest rewards in visiting the Nowitna Refuge come from its remoteness and wilderness character. These qualities also create some of the greatest challenges for visitors. Here are some tips to help you travel comfortably and safely while preserving the wild nature of the Refuge.

Be prepared to care for yourself. Your gear should include, first aid supplies, well-tested equipment, and extra supplies to carry you through emergencies.

Getting lost is easy in the dense forests and vast, low-relief terrain. Carry, and know how to use, a map and compass or GPS.

File a trip plan with your air taxi service, family or friends before you start. Notify them when you return.

A hot day can turn bone-chilling and wet in a few hours. Pack for the worst conditions. Mosquitoes, flies and gnats are plentiful from mid-June through early September, so bring insect repellent and a headnet or bug jacket.

This is bear and moose country. Make noise and give them a chance to get out of your way. Cow moose with calves can be dangerous and fast. Never get near or between a cow moose and her calf. Maintain a clean camp and store food out of reach - not in your tent! Pack out your garbage. Burying it is unacceptable, as bears will dig it up.

Giardiasis and other water-borne intestinal diseases are present in Alaska, making it wise to filter or treat water.

There are no public use cabins within the refuge, although there are some privately owned lands and cabins. Please do not trespass. Use cabins only in cases of emergency.

Contact the refuge office for more information or visit the Alaska Geographic online bookstore.

Last updated: July 22, 2008