Here in Kobuk Valley National Park, 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle and enclosed by the Baird and Waring Mountains, the climate has changed little (or not at all) since the late Pleistocene era. Remnant flora grow as reminders of the vast Arctic steppe tundra that once bridged present-day Alaska and Asia. At the western end of the Brooks Range, where the mountains descend gently toward the Chukchi Sea, the park contains a transition zone between boreal forestland and open tundra. Strangely out of place, 25 square miles of the crescent-shaped Great Kobuk Sand Dunes shift in Arctic winds. Summer temperatures may rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Large mammals include wolves, red foxes, caribou, Alaskan moose, black bears, brown bears, beavers, river otters, Canadian lynxes, and Dall's sheep. Smaller mammals include wolverines, martens, minks, porcupines, muskrats, snowshoe hares and a variety of voles. Fish species include chinook, chum, pink and sockeye salmon, Dolly Varden, Arctic char, lake trout and Arctic grayling. Other species include burbot, Arctic lamprey, round, broad and humpback whitefish, and pond and rainbow smelt.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Kobuk Valley Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.