Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Arctic Alaska

Established in 1960, by the Eisenhower administration, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) spans 19.6 million acres, equal to the size of South Carolina. A wildlife lover’s paradise, the ANWR is home to 42 fish species, 39 land mammals, 7 marine mammals and more than 200 migratory and resident bird species. It is also one of the most important polar bear denning areas in the country and a critical calving area for the 200,000 strong Porcupine caribou herd. 

There are no roads, established trails, cell phone towers or facilities within the refuge. Most visitors access the refuge by flying via air taxi or personal airplane from Fairbanks to Fort Yukon, Kaktovik, Coldfoot or Deadhorse and then chartering a flight to land on a river gravel bar or tundra within the refuge. There are 6-10 day guided tours during the summer which focus on backpacking, hiking, rafting, and wildlife and bird viewing and photography. Some air taxi operators also offer one-day flightseeing trips to spot caribou. Another popular option is to take a cruise departing from Kaktovik on Barter Island to spot polar bears on the Arctic coastline.


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