Fodor's Expert Review Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

The Arctic Refuge contains one of the few protected Arctic coastal lands in the United States, as well as millions of acres of mountains and alpine tundra in the easternmost portion of the Brooks Range. Hundreds of thousands of birds, caribou, and other animals move across the Arctic Refuge during their annual migrations, relying on the area to nurse and feed their young, and find refuge from insects and predators. The Gwich'in people consider the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge a sacred place because it feeds and protects the Porcupine caribou herd, which in turn feeds and provides the cultural foundation for the Gwich'in people. The quest for oil in the coastal plain has become a divisive issue that pits corporate interests and proponents of development against the traditional way of life of the Gwich'in people and those who care about protecting the water, land, and wildlife of the region. Currently, the coastal plain is being opened to oil and gas leasing. The coastal area of... READ MORE

The Arctic Refuge contains one of the few protected Arctic coastal lands in the United States, as well as millions of acres of mountains and alpine tundra in the easternmost portion of the Brooks Range. Hundreds of thousands of birds, caribou, and other animals move across the Arctic Refuge during their annual migrations, relying on the area to nurse and feed their young, and find refuge from insects and predators. The Gwich'in people consider the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge a sacred place because it feeds and protects the Porcupine caribou herd, which in turn feeds and provides the cultural foundation for the Gwich'in people. The quest for oil in the coastal plain has become a divisive issue that pits corporate interests and proponents of development against the traditional way of life of the Gwich'in people and those who care about protecting the water, land, and wildlife of the region. Currently, the coastal plain is being opened to oil and gas leasing. The coastal area of the Arctic Refuge also provides critical denning grounds for polar bears, which spend much of their year on the Arctic Ocean's pack ice. Other wildlife include grizzly bears, Dall sheep, wolves, musk ox, and dozens of varieties of birds, from snowy owls to geese and tiny songbirds. As in many of Alaska's more remote parks and refuges, there are no roads here, and no developed trails, campgrounds, or other visitor facilities. Counterintuitively, for such a notoriously brutal geography, the plants and permafrost are quite fragile. The ground can be soft and wet in summer months so walk with care: footprints in the tundra can last 100 years. You should plan for snow almost any season, and anticipate subfreezing temperatures even in summer, particularly in the mountains. Many of the clear-flowing rivers are runnable, and tundra lakes are suitable for base camps (a Kaktovik or Ft. Yukon air taxi can drop you off and pick you up).

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Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge Views

Quick Facts

North Pole, Alaska  99701, USA

907-456–0250

www.fws.gov/refuge/arctic

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