U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

National Wildlife Refuge

Spring time in the Arctic!  The magnificent snow capped peaks of the Brooks Range Mountain form the back drop of this arctic scene.
101 12th Ave., Room 236
Fairbanks, AK   99701
E-mail: arctic_refuge@fws.gov
Phone Number: 907-456-0250 and 800-362-4546
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The Arctic Refuge encompasses coastal tundra and mountains in northeast Alaska.
Gray horizontal line
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Renowned for its wildlife, Arctic Refuge is inhabited by 45 species of land and marine mammals, ranging from the pygmy shrew to the bowhead whale. Best known are the polar, grizzly, and black bear; wolf, wolverine, Dall sheep, moose, muskox, and the animal that has come to symbolize the area's wildness, the free-roaming caribou. Thirty-six species of fish occur in Arctic Refuge waters, and 180 species of birds have been observed on the refuge.

Eight million acres of the Arctic Refuge are designated Wilderness, and three rivers (Sheenjek, Wind, and Ivishak) are designated Wild Rivers. Two areas of the refuge are designated Research Natural Areas. Because of distinctive scenic and scientific features, several rivers, valleys, canyons, lakes, and a rock mesa have been recommended as National Natural Landmarks.

Perhaps the most unique feature of the refuge is that large-scale ecological and evolutionary processes continue here, free of human control or manipulation. A prominent reason for establishment of the Arctic Refuge was the fact that this single protected area encompasses an unbroken continuum of arctic and subarctic ecosystems. Here, one can traverse the boreal forest of the Porcupine River plateau, wander north up the rolling tiaga uplands, cross the rugged, glacier-capped Brooks Range, and follow any number of rivers across the tundra coastal plain to the lagoons, estuaries, and barrier islands of the Beaufort Seas coast, all without encountering an artifact of civilization.

The refuge encompasses the traditional homelands and subsistence areas of Inupiaq Eskimos of the arctic coast and the Athabascan Indians of the interior.

Getting There . . .
Vast and wild, the Arctic Refuge remains roadless. Limited access is provided by the Dalton Highway (a gravel road) which passes the western tip of the refuge. The Arctic Refuge is a very remote area. Be prepared to handle any situation completely on your own. Most of the refuge is accessible only by aircraft. From Fairbanks, many visitors take a commercial flight to Fort Yukon, Arctic Village, Deadhorse or Kaktovik, and charter a smaller bush plane into the refuge from there.

For air taxi information visit http://www.fws.gov/alaska/nwr/arctic/airtaxi.htm

horizontal line

Wildlife and Habitat

The 19.2-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge supports the greatest variety of plant and animal life of any Park or Refuge in the circumpolar arctic.

Learn More>>

Known to few beyond the Inupiat Eskimos and Athabascan Indians who were the first to live in the area, it was the 1953 Sierra Club Bulletin article, "Northeast Arctic: The Last Great Wilderness," that began the transformation of northeast Alaska into a place internationally recognized as one of the finest examples of wilderness--the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Learn More>>

    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
Learn More >>

Management Activities
Management activities focus on the stewardship of naturally diverse fish and wildlife resources and the extraordinary wilderness values of the Arctic Refuge. Biologists conduct studies to better understand the status of fish, wildlife and their habitats. Information from surveys of caribou, muskoxen, moose and Dall sheep support recommendations for hunting seasons and allowable harvests by subsistence and sport hunters. Plant communities are monitored for changes associated with disturbance and global climatic conditions.

Recreational use is managed to ensure that the refuge's wild character is preserved. This is accomplished through monitoring visitor use, developing necessary protective provisions, conducting information and education programs, and enforcing regulations.

The 1002 Area, 1.5 million acres of the refuge's coastal plain, has long been a subject of controversy. The area includes habitat important to the Porcupine and Central Arctic Caribou Herds, as well as many other species. It may also contain significant quantities of oil and gas. In 1980, the U.S. Congress mandated studies of the petroleum potential and biological resources of the area. Today, the refuge conducts ongoing biological studies of the 1002 Area as the development debate continues.