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Kobuk Valley National Park

A view of Kobuk Valley National Park

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The remote, almost untouched Kobuk Valley National Park lies in northwestern Alaska, 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The Kobuk River cuts through the middle of the park and spreads for 61 miles across the area. The park is bordered by the Baird Mountains to the north and the 25-square mile Great Kobuk Sand Dunes to the south. The dunes are the largest active sand dunes in the Arctic. Nearly half a million caribou use the park as their own personal highway, migrating through twice a year as they head north in the spring and south in the fall.

This far north, weather should be a consideration in everything you do. During the summer, temperatures in the park are usually in the mid-60s, but can venture into the 80s. Also, remember that the sun doesn’t set between June 3rd and July 9th. If you find it hard to sleep when it’s light, you may want to bring a sleep mask to help you at night. Finally, even though temperature averages are warm during the summer months, there is still the possibility of snow any time of the year. Be sure to check forecasts, bring layers, and be prepared for any type of weather.  

In the winter, the average low is -8°F but temps have been known to drop to -50°F. The days are very short, and while twilight lasts for several hours, on the shortest day of the year the sun is above the horizon for only 90 minutes. Northern lights are active year-round, but are best seen on the darkest nights of winter. Be sure to prepare with high-quality winter gear if you’re headed to the park then.   

The closest town to the park is Kotzebue, 80 miles southwest. You’ll find the park visitor center and museum, along with a few restaurants and shops there. You will find even more amenities in Fairbanks, which is one of the cities that provide transportation to the roadless areas in and around the park.

Because the park is so remote, and even the visitor center is 80 miles away, there are few scheduled events within the park itself. The Northwest Arctic Heritage Center does have scheduled kids programs which you can find here, and adult programs which you can see here. You can also find plenty to do on your own, including backcountry hiking and camping, and sand dune sliding!

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Weather
  • Spring 35-50 F
  • Summer 60-80 F
  • Fall 20-40 F
  • Winter -8 - -50 F
Location & Hours
  • Coming soon
Park Info
  • Coming soon

Kobuk Valley National Park Hiking Trails

There are no defined trails in the park, but there are plenty of areas to hike and explore. Hiking in the mountain areas provides firmer ground and less spongy than areas near the sand dunes. However, planes can’t land in the mountains, so be sure to discuss with your pilot where you will land. Read up on the areas where you plan to hike so you are well-prepared, and plan for delays and other possible incidents.

Hiking at Kobuk Valley National Park

Things to do Outside Kobuk Valley National Park

Kotzebue is the closest town, 80 miles from the park, and has several shops and restaurants. You’ll find even more tours and places to visit in Fairbanks, a good place to begin your trip.

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Shopping

Sightseeing

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RV Resorts & Campsites in Kobuk Valley National Park

Within the Kobuk Valley National Park, there are no designated campgrounds. Camping is allowed, but all gear must be packed in and out by air. If you have an RV, consider camping in Fairbanks and making that your base camp while you take your trip to the park, or to other more remote areas of Alaska.

Campgrounds Near Kobuk Valley National Park

Find the Best Dumpstations Near Kobuk Valley National Park

An unglamorous but necessary aspect of RVing? Dump stations. Knowing where the best dump stations are near you will allow for more ease and less stress in your travels. Dump stations are an easy and convenient way to clear waste from your RV. Use our guides to find dump stations on your route, so you can get back to the good stuff – exploring, relaxing, and making memories on the road.

Dumpstations Near Kobuk Valley National Park

How to get to Kobuk Valley National Park

There are no roads into Kobuk Valley National Park. Visitors typically access the park by air taxi. Be sure to discuss your dropoff and pickup locations with your pilot, and plan for delays of several days, in case of weather. If you need help planning your visit, check these guidelines and be sure to consult the rangers at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center before you go.

Most people get to the area by flying into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, then booking a commercial flight to Ralph Wien Memorial Airport in Kotzebue, or by flying to Fairbanks International Airport and then booking a commercial flight to Bettles Airport. From there, they arrange for authorized air taxis to take them to the park.

Another way to begin your trip is to travel by RV. RVing allows you to explore Alaska in comfort and at your own pace. You can fly into Fairbanks or Anchorage and rent an RV there, or rent one in your hometown to drive to those cities, then make arrangements to get to Kobuk Valley from there.

There are several RV campgrounds in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Just be sure the campgrounds are open at the time you want to visit, and make reservations so you’re assured of a spot.

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Frequently Asked Questions
    Is Kobuk Valley National Park accessible for disabled visitors?

    Kobuk Valley National Park is remote and does not have accessible trails or roads. Visitors to the park hire vendors to provide a plane ride or boat, so contact those operators to see what their accessibility is like. The Northwest Arctic Heritage Center in Kotzebue is accessible and has a wheelchair that's available on request.

    Are pets allowed at Kobuk Valley National Park?

    Yes, pets are allowed at Kobuk Valley National Park. In fact, dog mushing is a popular activity at the park. Pet owners should watch for bears and other wild animals while in the park.

    What are the top things to do in Kobuk Valley National Park?

    Top things to do at Kobuk Valley National Park include flightseeing, hiking, backpacking, and fishing. In winter, visitors with Arctic winter survival skills can ski or dog mush in the park.

    Are there designated camping spots in Kobuk Valley National Park?

    No, there are no designated camping spots at Kobuk Valley National Park. Visitors can choose their own place to camp. Because the only way in and out of the park is by plane or boat, visitors will have to pack in their camping gear. RV campers may want to set up a base camp in Fairbanks and take a trip to Kobuk Valley National Park from there.

    What is the climate of Kobuk Valley National Park?

    Kobuk Valley National Park has a mild summer climate, with temperatures in the mid-60s through 80s during the day. Winters are very cold, with an average January low of -8°F although temps go down to -50°F.

    Visitors should also keep in mind that the sun does not set from early June until July 9th. In winter, the sun is above the horizon for just 1 1/2 hours on the shortest day of the year.