Visit a National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska

Alaska is home to 16 national wildlife refuges, with each having a unique identity and all worth a visit. This post has details on some of the refuges in our 49th state, along with links to the rest.

While most national wildlife refuges offer free admission, about 30 refuges do charge a small entry fee. For more information, visit the Federal Recreational Lands Pass page.

Also, check for updates regarding COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines at the website for the wildlife refuge you’ll be visiting. General COVID-19 information for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is available here.

Looking for a place to stay while visiting one of these? Travel Alaska’s Places to Stay section has a list of campgrounds and RV parks in Alaska and Boondocker’s Bible has a list of National Wildlife Refuge Campgrounds nationwide. 

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, often called “Alaska in miniature,” is home to a wide diversity of wildlife including moose, eagles, brown and black bears, lynx, wolves, and trumpeter swans. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Strausser and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services)

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 2139; Ski Hill Rd., Soldotna, AK 99669-2139
Headquarters Phone: 907-262-7021
Visitor Center Phone: 907-260-2820
Toll-free: 877-285-5628

Created in 1980, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is nearly two million acres in size and is the most visited refuge in the state. Wildlife includes moose, bears, wolves, Trumpeter Swans, and salmon that inhabitant the refuge’s alpine tundra, wetlands, and boreal forest. The refuge is also home to the Swanson River and Swan Lake Canoe Trails— one of three such wilderness trail systems in the United States. 

The refuge is accessible from Sterling Highway as well as secondary access roads. You can also reach the refuge by air from Anchorage or via river trails and floatplane to its many lakes. Kenai Refuge has options for camping, with six restored, historic public use cabins available. 

A detailed list of visitor activities is included in the downloadable Refuge Reflections. There are no entrance fees at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge but there are nightly fees for the campgrounds and public-use cabins. A special use permit is required for all commercial visitor services and most other non-visitor use activities on refuge lands.

The boundaries of Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge encompass 932,000 acres. More than 600,000 acres include snowcapped mountains and glacier-fed rivers, forests, and treeless tundra, and an abundance of wetlands. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 779, 1.3 Mile Borealis, MS 529, Tok, AK 99780
Phone: 907-883-5312

The Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge in the Tanana River Valley is known for its snowcapped mountains, glacier-fed rivers, forests, tundra, and an abundance of wetlands. While the refuge boundaries encompass 932,000 acres, only 682,604 are managed by Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. The diversity of the landscape is home to an array of wildlife: 42 species of mammals, 15 fish species, one amphibian, 160 migratory and 30 resident bird species, and a large but unknown number of invertebrate species. It also draws human visitors who come for bird-watching, hiking, boating, fishing, and hunting, or to traverse the series of trails at the site of a former Seaton Roadhouse. 

Unlike many of the other Alaskan refuges, this one is easily accessible by vehicles, since it’s adjacent to the south side of the Alaska Highway right over the state’s border. The refuge also has remote administrative use cabins available for public use through a reservation process. There are no visitor or camping fees charged on the Tetlin Refuge.

Most of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is a vast, flat wetland/tundra complex interspersed by countless ponds, lakes, and meandering rivers. (Photo courtesy of Kristine Sowl and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

807 Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway, PO Box 346, Bethel, AK 99559
Phone: 907-543-3151
Toll-free: 800-621-5804

At more than 19.5 million acres, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is larger than the state of Maine, making it also the second-largest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System after Arctic Refuge. Most of the refuge is a vast, flat wetland/tundra complex interspersed by countless ponds, lakes, and meandering rivers, and it supports one of the largest aggregations of waterbirds in the world. The refuge is also home to 50 species of mammals and five species of Pacific salmon as well as at least 35 other species of fish. 

Most visitors access the refuge by chartered excursions, and once in Bethel, can drive along the few paved roads to the refuge center. Whether by boat, vehicle, or on foot, the refuge offers numerous opportunities to view the unique geology and diverse wildlife. There are no visitor fees charged anywhere on the refuge.

Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge

101 12th Avenue, Rm 264 MS 575, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: 907-456-0440
Toll-free: 800-531-0676

The nation’s third-largest wildlife refuge, Yukon Flats Refuge in eastern central Alaska encompasses approximately 11.1 million acres of land, with 8.63 million acres in federal ownership. The refuge is bordered by Brooks Mountain Range to the north and the White Mountains to the south and extends 220 miles east-west along the Arctic Circle. The Yukon River that flows through the refuge is responsible for creating its vast floodplain of lakes, ponds, and streams. 

While there are no roads within the Yukon Flats Refuge, two of them do come close to the eastern and southern boundaries. Visitors to the refuge can come by boat or by commercial or charter flights, and then enjoy boating, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, and photography. There are no fees nor are any permits required to visit Yukon Flats.

Other National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska

 

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

95 Sterling Hwy #1, Homer, AK 99603
Phone: 907-235-6546
Toll-free: 833-808-4796

Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge

Post Office Box 277, 4 Bear Road, King Salmon, AK 99613
Phone: 907-246-3339

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

101 12th Ave., Room 236, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: 907-456-0250
Toll-free: 800-362-4546

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge

Post Office Box 277, 4 Bear Road, King Salmon, AK 99613
Phone: (907) 246-3339

Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

101 Front Street, P.O. Box 287 MS 525, Galena, AK 99741-0287
Phone: 907-656-1231
Toll-free: 800-656-1231

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 127 MS 515, Cold Bay, Alaska 99571-0127
Phone: 907-532-2445
Toll-free: 877-837-6332

Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge

101 12th Avenue Rm. 206, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: 907-456-0329

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Kodiak Refuge Headquarters: 1390 Buskin River Road, Kodiak, AK 99615
Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center: 402 Center Ave., Kodiak, AK 99615
Headquarters Phone: 907-487-2600
Toll-free: 888-408-3514
Visitor Center Phone: 907-487-2626
Toll-free: 888-592-6942

Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge

101 Front Street, P.O. Box 287 MS 525, Galena, AK 99741-0287
Phone: 907-656-1231
Toll-free: 800-656-1231

Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge

101 Front Street, P.O. Box 287 MS 525, Galena, AK 99741-0287
Phone: 907-656-1231
Toll-free: 800-656-1231

Selawik National Wildlife Refuge

160 Second Avenue, P.O. Box 270, Kotzebue, AK 99752
Phone: 907-442-3799
Toll-free: 800-492 8848

Togiak National Wildlife Refuge

6 Main Street, Kangiiqutaq Building, P.O. Box 270 MS 569, Dillingham, AK  99576
Phone: 907-842-1063
Toll-free: 1-800-817-2538

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