Commercial Polar Bear Viewing Closed

Commercially supported boat-based polar bear viewing at Arctic Refuge is currently unavailable. In addition, the community of Kaktovik has a non-resident travel restriction in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Do not make plans to visit Kaktovik for polar bear viewing at this time.

Special Use Permit Application Periods

Arctic Refuge has established application periods for the following types of Special Use Permits: Commercial Activities - There are two applications periods: January 1 until April 15 and October 1 until November 30. Scientific Research Activities - October 1 until November 30 (for activities proposed the following calendar year). Additional information and instructions. 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sustains people, wildlife, and fish in the northeastern corner of Alaska, a vast landscape of rich cultural traditions and thriving ecological diversity. It is located on the traditional homelands of the Iñupiat and Gwichʼin peoples.

Approximately the size of South Carolina, the refuge has no roads or facilities. The lands and waters are a critical home to migratory and resident wildlife, have unique recreational values, and contain the largest designated Wilderness within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Many people may know of the refuge by an abbreviation: ANWR (pronounced an-whar). The full name reminds us that the refuge is part of our national heritage, designated for wildlife conservation.

Visit Us

Paddling a river in Arctic Refuge

Interactive map of Arctic Refuge.

A trip to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge can be an inspiring, life-changing experience. Whether you want to photograph, fish, hunt, challenge yourself with travel in the backcountry, or just spend quiet time in an immense and humbling landscape, this is a truly remarkable place.

All refuge lands are open to the public, and there are no visitor fees or specific entry points. Visitors plan and arrange their own transportation, trip locations, and itineraries; careful preparation, and self-reliance are a must. There are no roads, established trails, or facilities of any type within the refuge's 19 million acres. Most bring their own food and gear, and access the refuge by air taxi, flying in from nearby communities. First-time visitors may wish to participate in a guided trip. 

Location and Contact Information

      Our Species

      Muskox in Arctic Refuge

      Arctic Refuge is home to all three species of North American bears (black, brown, and polar), and to the Porcupine caribou herd, the Central Arctic caribou herd, Dall sheep, muskox, wolves, and wolverines. More than 200 species of birds from all 50 states and across the world flock to Arctic Refuge to nest, rear their young, and feed. Dolly Varden char thrive here, including a relatively small resident form and a large salmon-sized anadromous form (thanks to perennial springs that stay unfrozen year-round). 

      Projects and Research