Selawik Refuge, which straddles the Arctic Circle in northwest Alaska, offers rest and rejuvenation for visitors in a backcountry, undeveloped setting. Those who seek out these beautiful wild lands should be self-sufficient and enjoy making their own way on a hunting, fishing, birding or paddling adventure.
Most public use on the Selawik Refuge is in the form of subsistence activities by local, predominantly Iñupiaq residents. Caribou and moose hunting, fishing, furbearer trapping, and berry picking continue on as they have for centuries. Local residents still depend on the wildlife and natural resources of the refuge for much of their food and for cultural, social, and spiritual sustenance.
If you're interested in learning more about planning a trip to Selawik Refuge from outside the region, check out out trip planning overview.
One of the most visited destinations in the refuge is the Selawik Hot Springs located at the headwaters of the Selawik River.
Most public use on the Selawik Refuge is in the form of subsistence activities by local, predominantly Iñupiaq residents. Caribou and moose hunting, fishing, furbearer trapping, and berry picking continue on as they have for centuries. Local residents still depend on the wildlife and natural resources of the refuge for much of their food and for cultural, social, and spiritual sustenance. For those from outside the region, visiting the Selawik Refuge can require considerable time, effort, and expense, but rich rewards can be found in the scenery, wildlife, and wilderness character of the area.
Selawik Refuge does not offer any developed, guided, or marked hiking trails. Self-guided hiking is permitted on all refuge lands, with some of the most suitable terrain found in the Waring Mountains and other upland areas.
In the winter, a network of marked winter trails (primarily used by snowmobiles) crosses the refuge and the rest of the surrounding region, connecting communities for safe overland travel. This trail network is administered by the Northwest Arctic Borough in partnership with the refuge and local community Search & Rescue volunteers.
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge encompasses the Kobuk River delta and almost all of the Selawik River drainage. Within the boundaries of the refuge are both large and small sections of privately-owned lands. These maps will help orient you to the refuge and determine land ownership status:
- Alaska refuges land status mapper
- Geo-PDF refuge maps for download (use these maps on your GPS-capable cell phone or tablet)
You're also welcome to contact our office for help with land status questions to assist in planning your visit.
Rules and Policies
The Selawik National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round. There are no entrance fees or refuge-specific permits required for personal activities such as hunting, fishing, berry picking, snowmachining, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, or photography. You do need to have a hunting, fishing, or trapping license if you're doing those activities, and you'll need to know the bag limits and season dates. Commercial activities and research do require a permit. Read more on our full "rules and policies" page.
We have a variety of maps and printed information available to assist visitors. Refuge staff are always available to answer questions and provide information as needed.
From the airport, follow 3rd Avenue to Lake Street and take a left. Then take a right on 2nd Street. It's about a 10 minute walk, less driving.