Plan Your Visit

Cold Bay Boat Dock at Sunrise

Travel to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, is logistically challenging, but definitely worth the effort! The scenery, wildlife, and wilderness experiences that the Refuge offers are truly unique - the experience of a lifetime!

Refuge headquarters is located in Cold Bay, Alaska. This is a small, remote, community of fewer than 100 people, and is accessible only by air or water. The Alaska Marine Ferry System serves Cold Bay with one ship per month from April through October. Peninsula Airways (PenAir) serves Cold Bay with daily round-trip flights from Anchorage.

From Cold Bay, there is limited vehicle access to the Refuge via 5 primary gravel or dirt roads, totaling about 40 miles (portions of these require 4-wheel drive). Aircraft or boats are required for access elsewhere within the refuge. PenAir will fly visitors to remote villages. Off-airport air taxi operators and boat charters are limited. Contact the Refuge for the latest information.

The refuge administrative office is located approximately one-half mile northeast of the Cold Bay airport terminal. Modest rental vehicles are available from a local entrepreneur. A small grocery store, motel, lodge and a couple B&B's are open year round.

Phone: (907) 532-2445, Fax: (907) 532-2549


Backcountry Safety Tips


Always leave your itinerary with family/friends and notify them when you return. 

Refuge lands are remote and may be inaccessible during inclement weather. Help could be hours or days away should something go wrong.
Carry emergency water, food, clothing, map, compass, first aid kit and signaling devices.

Be Wildlife Safe 
  •  Precautions should be taken to avoid unwanted encounters with bears and moose, particularly when they have offspring. 
  •  Avoid using well-worn bear and other wildlife trails. 
  •  Make lots of noise when hiking, especially on windy days, in dense vegetation and along noisy streams. 
  •  Keep campsites very clean and cook/store all food away from camp. 
  •  Keep tents, sleeping bags and all personal gear free of food odors. 
  •  Never bring food in your tent. 
  •  It’s important to store food so that it is not obtainable for bears and other animals. “Food” includes garbage, canned items and toiletries. 
  •  The use of bear-resistant storage containers is strongly recommended. 
  •  Do not bury garbage or debris because the enticing odors teach bears to associate food with humans, a very dangerous situation. 
  •  The weather changes quickly and without warning. 
  •  Adequate rain gear and warm clothing are essential. Hypothermia is always a possibility with wet conditions and cool temperatures. 
  •  Cold water kills! Use extreme caution and common sense when near rivers, lakes and coastal areas. The water is often murky and swift, and angerous conditions may not be apparent. Watch out for quicksand. 
  • • Boil, filter or treat all water before drinking. Giardiasis, a water-borne parasite, is common in Alaska. 
  • • Biting insects are common. 
  • • Come prepared with repellent, head nets and a screened tent. 
  • • Medication should be carried if you are sensitive to bug bites.

Leave No Trace
Plan Ahead and Be Prepared
Learn as much as possible about the area you are planning to visit. This will determine the appropriate food, clothing, equipment and transportation needed for the trip. Pack lightweight non-odorous foods. Dress in layers and bring small reliable camp stoves and wind-proof tents. Clothing and equipment should be able to withstand rigorous use in prolonged wet and windy conditions. Prepare for bad weather and pack extra food and clothing in case your transportation home is delayed.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Travel in smaller groups and visit less popular areas to minimize contact with others and to enhance wildlife viewing opportunities. Confine your travel and camping areas to surfaces that are resistant to impact. In popular or high-use areas, concentrate your use. This will help preserve the natural condition of the surroundings. In remote and low-use areas, spread out your use. Choose a camping site that is naturally durable, such as sand or gravel.

Pack It In, Pack It Out
Trash has no place in the backcountry. Pack out all of your garbage including cigarette butts, ammunition casings and all non-burnable trash. Properly dispose of what you can’t pack out. Avoid contaminating water sources by camping, washing and using the toilet at least 200 feet from all water bodies. Bury human waste at least six inches deep and well away from camp. Use toilet paper sparingly and burn it or pack it out.

Minimize the Use and Impact of Fires

Use lightweight camp stoves when possible. If a fire is needed, keep it small, use a fire pan, and burn only dead and downed wood. Put out campfires completely and pack out all unburned trash.

Leave What You Find 

People come to wildlands to enjoy them in their natural state. Leave plants, rocks and archaeological/cultural evidence as you find them. Archaeological artifacts are protected by law; do not disturb or remove them.

Take pride in your public wildlands. By using responsible backcountry techniques there should be little or no sign of your visit when you are ready to leave.