Noatak National Preserve
How Long to Spend
Noatak National Preserve, in the western Brooks Range, encompasses over 250 miles of the Noatak River and protects the largest untouched mountain-ringed river basin in the United States. Recognizing the value of this vast wilderness, the preserve has been named an international Biosphere Reserve. In addition to serving as a benchmark for measuring future environmental health, the river basin provides outstanding opportunities for scientific research, subsistence living, environmental education, and recreational activities.
Above the Arctic Circle, the Noatak River flows from glacial melt atop Mount Igikpak in the Brooks Range out to Kotzebue Sound. Along its 425-mile course, the river has carved out the Grand Canyon of the Noatak. The preserve is in a transition zone between the northern coniferous forests and tundra biomes, and contains most types of arctic habitat as well as one of the finest arrays of flora and fauna. The Western Arctic caribou herd, numbering approximately 450,000, migrates to and from its calving grounds through the broad expanse of the preserve. Other large mammals include brown bears, moose, wolves, lynx, and Dall sheep. More than 150 songbird species migrating from Asia and the tip of South America pass through the preserve every year, providing spectacular bird-watching. The Noatak River supports arctic char, whitefish, grayling, and salmon.
The slow-moving, gentle Noatak River offers excellent fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Opportunities for wilderness backpacking and photography are plentiful.
Access: Daily jet service from Anchorage to Kotzebue. Scheduled air service to nearby villages, and chartered air taxis, such as Golden Eagle Outfitters, for remote landings in the park. In summer, with advance arrangement, a boat charter is available. Approximate Size: 6.5 million acres.
For information, contact: Superintendent, Noatak National Preserve, P.O. Box 1029, Kotzebue, AK 99752-1029; 907-442-3890; www.nps.gov/noat