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Noatak National Preserve

Noatak National Preserve lies in northwestern Alaska, in the western Brooks Range, and encompasses more than 250 miles of the Noatak River. The preserve protects the largest untouched mountain-ringed river basin in the United States. It represents a yardstick of environmental health against which future conditions can be compared. In recognition of the value of this vast wilderness, UNESCO has designated the Noatak River Basin an International Biosphere Reserve. The river basin provides an outstanding resource for scientific research, environmental education, and subsistence and recreational opportunities.

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. The river basin contains most types of arctic habitat, as well as one of the finest arrays of flora and fauna. Among the preserve's large mammals are brown bears, moose, caribou, wolves, lynx, and Dall sheep. Birdlife also abounds in the area because of the migrations from Asia and the tip of South America. The Noatak River supports arctic char, whitefish, grayling, and salmon. The slow-moving, gentle Noatak River is popular for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Backpacking, birding, and photography in the foothills afford scenic, recreational use.


Daily jet service is available from Anchorage and Fairbanks to Kotzebue. Scheduled air service is available to the parklands and nearby villages. During the summer, with advance arrangement, a boat charter is available.

Approximate Size

6.5 million acres.

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