Common visitor activities

rafters bar

National Wildlife Refuges are places where wildlife-dependent activities are priority uses. 


Arctic Refuge offers superlative wildlife watching and photography opportunities including: birding for a glimpse of a blue throat or a grey-headed chickadee; viewing polar bears out of captivity; and witnessing the elusive Porcupine Caribou Herd migration. Remote wilderness big game hunting (see "Do I need a Special Use Permit?) and catching/releasing Arctic fish species can provide unique experiences found nowhere else. Whether day hiking, river floating, or back packing, these common activities offer uncommon experiences.

Bird list
Mammal list
Fish list
Butterfly list

Polar bear viewing
Caribou migration
Traveling safely in polar bear habitat along the coast (300 kb PDF)
Day hiking in Atigun Gorge (260 kb PDF)

Each use of the Refuge has the potential to cause undesirable effects on Refuge resources. Be sure to consider how to minimize your impacts; and be aware of activities not allowed on Refuges.

Minimizing your impacts (400 kb PDF)
Examples of activities generally not allowed on Refuges
Invasive plants (235 kb PDF)

Other activities, such as berry picking and mushroom hunting, may be allowed if conducted in a traditional manner (meaning they are not harvested in commercial quantities, and are consumed on the Refuge).

Geocaching - an off-Refuge odyssey

State of Alaska laws apply on Arctic Refuge lands. State statute prohibits motorized vehicles off the highway north of the Yukon River. This includes cars and trucks as well as all-terrain vehicles and snowmachines. If you see snow machine tracks leading off the highway into Arctic Refuge, they may be the tracks of local subsistence users from nearby communities.

Subsistence users

Rules and Regulations provides guidance about about whether an activity you would like to conduct is allowable. Law Enforcement provides contact information if you would like to report an unauthorized use to a law enforcement officer.

Rules and regulations
Law enforcement