You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

State of Alaska Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge
Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge Wolf Tracks © John at Bear Paw Adventure
Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge © John at Bear Paw Adventure
Availability Search
P.O. Box 287
Galena, Alaska   99741

Phone: 907-656-1231
Email: park email button icon
The heart of Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge is a lowland basin of forests and wetlands that forms the floodplain of the meandering Nowitna River. The refuge's climate is typically marked by light precipitation, mild winds, long, hard winters and short, relatively warm, summers. The hills that circle the refuge lowlands are capped by alpine tundra.

It takes a week in a canoe, or more than an hour in a small plane, to traverse the refuge's 2.1 million acres of pristine wildlife habitat. Approximately 223 miles of the Nowitna River's 283-mile length flow within the boundaries of the refuge. Fish species inhabiting the river and its related lakes and streams include sheefish, burbot, whitefish, sucker, king and chum salmon, northern pike and arctic grayling.

The slow, meandering lower reaches of the Nowitna wander through one of Alaska's many productive waterfowl nurseries. The grassy margins of the river, surrounding lakes, and waterways provide breeding habitat for trumpeter swans, white fronted geese, canvasback ducks, cranes, and many other migratory species. More than 120 bird species have been sighted on the refuge during summer months, but only a few dozen hardy species remain through the long, cold winters.

Mature white spruce in the forested lowlands provides cover and den sites for marten, and trapping these and other furbearers remains important to the economy of people in the region. In fact, refuge lands have been used for centuries by Koyukon Athabascans for hunting, fishing, trapping and other subsistence activities. Moose, wolves, lynx, wolverines and both black and grizzly bears might be encountered anywhere on the refuge.

Nature of the Area
The Nowitna Refuge ranges from flat lowlands dotted with wetlands, to rolling hills capped by alpine tundra. The Nowitna River, a nationally designated Wild River, winds for 223 miles through the heart of the Refuge. The river and its tributaries shape the surrounding land, carving at forested cut-banks and creating gravel bars where wildflowers, grasses, herbs and willows sprout.

History of the Area
The Nowitna Refuge is a place where the visitor may step back in time. The landscape,though ever shifting, remains much as it has for thousands of years. People first occupied the interior of Alaska more than 10,000 years ago, depending on the abundant natural resources for food, clothing and shelter. The Koyukon Athabascan people living in the area today come from a long tradition of dependence on the land for survival.


Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge is

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
write a review
Share On

Nearby Hotels

The Nowitna Refuge lies in the vast roadless region of northern and western Alaska. Commuter aircraft provide regularly scheduled air transportation from Fairbanks and Anchorage to Galena, where the refuge headquarters is located. The two villages nearest the refuge, Ruby and Tanana, have less frequent air service, but there are local guides available. Visitors may charter small aircraft for transport to the refuge from Galena or McGrath. Most visitors travel to the Nowitna Refuge by boat, coming 240 miles down the Yukon River from the Dalton Highway Bridge or 280 miles down the Tanana River from Nenana. Local residents travel extensively up and down the Yukon River by boat in summer and snow machine in the winter.

Whatever your reason for visiting Nowitna, be sure to come well equipped with headnets and bug dope during summer months (May through September), when mosquitos and other biting insects are by far the most numerous of the refuge's abundant wildlife! Also be prepared for travel in a remote area, and bring first aid supplies, well-tested equipment and extra gear for weather changes and emergencies.

state route ranger badge

State of Alaska Parks