Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kobuk Valley - National Park of the Week #1

Shortly after I got into backpacking, I received a National Parks Guidebook detailing all the national parks.  I immediately wanted to go to almost all of them, but I remember one in particular stood out largely due to its remoteness, isolation, and unique features:

Kobuk Valley National Park
Location: NW Alaska above the Arctic Circle.  500 mi. NW of Anchorage, 370 mi. NW of Fairbanks, 260 mi. NE of Nome
Area: 1.7 million acres
Major Attractions: Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Baird Mountains, Kobuk River, isolation
Miles of Trail:  0
My Favorite Part: Sand dunes, no trails, have to get dropped off by plane.
Getting There: By plane from Bettles, Ambler, or Fairbanks.

Located in the heart of the northern Alaskan wilderness, Kobuk Valley is accessible only by plane and sometimes boat. It borders the massive Noatak National Preserve and the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge and is not too far from Gates of the Arctic National Park.  As is the case with some other large, remote National Parks, there are no official trails here.  So few people visit every year that there is little risk of trails forming or causing lasting damage; not to mention how costly maintaining underused trails would be given that all supplies and workers would need to be flown in.

Caribou Crossing Kobuk River - Western Arctic National Parklands

Kobuk Dunes - By Western Arctic National Parklands via

Kobuk River - By AlaskaNPS via

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