Where Nature Takes Its Course

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 as a promise to the American people to preserve “wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values”.

The Refuge shares a common border with Ivvavik and Vuntut National Parks in Canada, which in combination constitutes one of the largest conservation areas in the world. North to south, the Refuge extends 200 miles—from the Arctic coast, across the tundra plain, over glacier-capped peaks of the Brooks Range, and into the spruce and birch forests of the Yukon basin. The Refuge preserves the transition between Arctic and sub-Arctic ecozones. Each of these ecozones is defined by a unique make-up of animals and plants.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a place of wildness, where timeless ecological and evolutionary processes continue in their natural ebb and flow. The mystery of nameless valleys remains alive, where one can experience solitude, self-reliance, exploration, adventure, and challenge. The spirit of wilderness prevails here.

The majestic Brooks Range rises from the coastal plain here only ten to forty miles from the Beaufort Sea, part of the vast Arctic Ocean. The Refuge includes the four highest peaks and most of the glaciers in the Brooks Range. More than twenty rivers flow through the Refuge, and three are designated as wild: the Sheenjek, Ivishak, and Wind. It contains North America’s two largest and most northerly alpine lakes – Peters and Schrader.

Numerous prominent geological formations, including a range of permafrost and glacial features, are found here. It contains several warm springs, which support plant species unique to the area.

In this land of seasonal extremes, the summer sun remains above the horizon for months; in winter, the dark sky is enlivened by the multicolored aurora borealis.