Alatna Wild and Scenic River

The Alatna River cuts through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve flowing 145 miles before emptying into the Koyukuk River to the southeast. The River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1980 and is known for its wildlife, exceptional beauty, and recreational activities - especially rafting and fishing.

Alagnak Wild and Scenic River

The Alagnak was designated a Wild River in 1980 as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and protects 67 miles of river headwaters that border Katmai National Park and Preserve. The river is most popular for sport fishing and is one of the best places in Alaska to do so. Rainbow trout, arctic char, grayling, and sockeye and king salmon can all be found here. Other activities include primitive camping, paddling, and other river recreation.

While open year round, the river is a primitive area, and there are no developed services by the National Park Service. It is best explored with the help of a local guide or outfitter. A list of commercial services near the park can be found here.

Alaska Public Lands

Obviously Alaska is huge and there's a lot to explore, so to learn more about Alaska's Public Lands, make a stop at one of the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers. Here you can find maps, information, and tips on exploring Alaska's vast forests, parks, and wilderness areas. Information Centers can be found in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Tok. The Centers are open all year, opening slightly later in the winter. Click here more more information.

Aleutian World War II National Historic Area

During World War II, the Aleutian Islands were fiercely fought over and were the site of several deadly battles in the Pacific Theater. Aleutian World War II National Historic Area tells the story of these battles, along with the tragic relocation of nearly 900 Aleut people from their homes in 1942. Visitors can explore what remains of Fort Schwatka, a U.S. Army Fort built in 1941.

The park is located on Amaknak Island and can only be reached by airplane or ferry. It is about 800 miles west of Anchorage in the Aleutian Island Chain. A Visitor Center is located at the airport in Unalaska and is open Monday-Friday during the summer.

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is as remote a place as you can get, and yet, this site is full of history and culture. The preserve was set aside to protect the Aniakchak caldera - a 6-mile wide relic from a volcanic eruption 3,500 year ago. It also protects and preserves 2,000 years of cultural record and early inhabitants of the Alaskan Peninsula.

Today, visitors to the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve can enjoy rafting down the Aniakchak River, hiking around the caldera, and sport fishing. Other wildlife you might spot are brown bear, caribou, moose, wolf, wolverine, waterfowl, sea otter, harbor seal, and sea lions. Because of rapidly changing weather conditions, you'll need to plan your trip carefully. Several air taxi and boat services can get you here, and many commercial guides can help you with your trip.

Aniakchak began as a National Monument in 1978 and was enlarged in 1980 to include the Aniakchak River and surrounding areas by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Today the Monument and Preserve covers 601,294 acres of wilderness area.

Aniakchak Wild and Scenic River

The Aniakchak Wild and Scenic River runs for 63 miles through the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve on the Aleutian Peninsula and lies entirely within the Preserve. The river was designated in 1980 and is popular with technical floaters and paddlers due to its challenging whitewater and narrow passages.

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

During Earth's last Ice Age, the Bering Land Bridge was a 1,000-mile wide grassland that connected Asia and North America, and allowed humans and animals to move freely between the two continents until about 10,000 years ago when it flooded. The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve was established by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) on December 2, 1980 and protects 2.7 million acres along Alaska's Seward Peninsula.

Because of the immense area of the preserve, there are many things to explore. Some of the more popular ones are the Serpentine Hot Springs, Kuzitrin Lake, and Imuruk Volcanic Field. Hiking and backpacking are popular activities, along with hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, camping, and wildlife viewing. Some examples of wildlife in the park include brown bears, grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and wolves. If out on the water, you may even spot beluga whales, walruses, seals, polar bears, and bowhead whales.

The Park and Preserve are open all year, but because it's one of America's most remote parks, you'll need to have a good plan to get here. Start by flying into Nome. From here you can explore the Visitor Center which is only about a mile away from the airport. The park boundaries are 100 miles from Nome and will require a chartered bush plane or some other means to actually visit the park. It's not an inexpensive place to visit, but the beauty and solitude might lessen the blow.

Cape Krusenstern National Monument

Cape Krusenstern National Monument protects nearly 5,000 years worth of human pre-history along the shoreline of the Chukchi Sea. One of the Monument's most unique features are the beach ridges that indicate use by native people over the centuries. This coastal plain is also home to large amounts of wildlife, particularly migratory birds. Since its location above the Arctic Circle prevents most wintertime activities, summer months are the best time to visit. Activities include kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, backpacking, and wildlife watching. There are no developed facilities at the park and access is only by plane or boat.

Cape Krusenstern National Monument was designated in 1980 in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Chilikadrotna Wild River

The Chilikadrotna Wild River was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1980 and provides visitors with recreational opportunities in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. A total of 11 miles of the river are considered wild. Read here for more information on America's Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Perhaps one of the most dominating landscapes in America's National Park system is Denali National Park and Preserve. At over six million acres, it's one of America's largest parks - fitting since it contains Mount Denali, North America's tallest peak. The park is actually split into different sections for the purposes of management. There is the park itself that includes part of the Alaska Range, the preserve, and the wilderness areas.

There is only one road in and out of the park, but Denali is so large that you'll want to plan more than just a day to visit. Most people visit in the summer when the weather is more favorable, but the park is open all year long. Popular activities include hiking, camping, photography, bird watching, bicycling, and flightseeing. As you might expect, there is an abundance of wildlife in the park including grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose and Dall's sheep. Small mammals include arctic ground squirrels, red squirrels, foxes and marmots.

The two main areas of Denali are the Savage River area and the Wonder Lake area. Both can be reached by car or park shuttle bus. For those who are a little more adventurous, guide services are available for backcountry outings, fishing trips, and many other trips.

There is one Visitor Center in the park. Denali can be reached by car, bus, or train and is located about 240 miles north of Anchorage or 120 miles south of Fairbanks. A popular way to arrive at Denali is by train using the Alaska Railroad.

Denali National Park and Preserve was created by Congress in 1917 and then tripled in size in 1980.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve protects one of the last untouched wilderness areas on Earth. Like Denali, it contains two components - the National Park that preserves seven million, fifty-two thousand acres and the National Preserve that protects another nine hundred thousand acres of federal lands. There are no roads or facilities. It's just wide-open nature. It is also the northernmost park in America, situated entirely above the Arctic Circle, and contains six rivers with the NPS Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.

Getting to Gates of the Arctic National Park is a challenge and is typically accessed by small air taxi from Fairbanks, although you can hike to the Park as well. For those up for the adventure, there are over eight million acres in the park to explore. If camping and hiking in complete solitude appeals to you, then this is your park. If your survival skills aren't quite up to snuff, you can book day trips, one-nighters, or even just take an air taxi around for photos of the park. If you are looking to get your passport book stamped, you can find them in the Bettles Visitor Center and at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot. Air taxis can also take you to nearby Kobuck Valley National Park or the Noatak Preserve.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is the second-largest in the park system behind Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, also in Alaska. The park was originally designated a National Monument in 1978 and was later expanded in 1980 as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Southeast Alaska protects 3.3 million acres of various terrain and ecosystems including forest, mountains, glaciers, fjords, and coastline. It's also a 25-million acre UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of one of the largest Biosphere Reserves on Earth. In early spring, sea lions and a variety of birds can be spotted, along with the occasional orca. Later, brown and black bears come out of hibernation and mountain goats move down from the mountains. Summer is good for viewing harbor seals, humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, mountain goats, and bears fishing streams and rivers for salmon.

One-fifth of Glacier Bay National Park is water, so activities like boating, kayaking, fishing, and boat tours are plentiful. Camping, rafting, and hiking are also popular. The Glacier Bay National Park Visitor Center is located on the second floor of Glacier Bay Lodge in Bartlett Cove, 10 miles from Gustavus, AK. Bartlett Cove is the only developed area in the park, and it is where you can take a naturalist hike with a Ranger, find a tour, or just explore the area on your own for the day.

Iditarod National Historic Trail

The Iditarod National Historic Trail consists of 120 miles of trail through south-central Alaska and is probably most famous for the annual sled dog race that shares its name. It is Alaska's only National Historic Trail and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, along with several other federal, state, and local agencies, including the National Park Service. The trail also passes through private lands and is maintained by other private and community groups. The trail was designated by Congress in 1978.

Iñupiat Heritage Center

The Iñupiat Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska is about preserving the story of the native Iñupiat people. Much of their culture and way of life revolves around whaling, so in 1999, traditional houses, exhibits, artifact collections, a library, and gift shop were dedicated to telling this story.

Regularly scheduled workshops and crafting classes are held here as well. The center is in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in North America. Commercial flights are available from both Fairbanks and Anchorage. The center is open all year, and cultural workshops take place each day from mid-May to mid-September.

John Wild and Scenic River

The John Wild and Scenic River flows through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve where 52 miles have been designated wild. It travels through Alaska's Brooks Range where it serves as an important part of the Alaskan caribou herd's migration route through the park.

Katmai National Park and Preserve

In 1912, Katmai National Park experienced a cataclysmic volcanic eruption which helped shape this barren landscape. Over the years it continued to expand until in 1980, it was re-designated Katmai National Park and Preserve under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Today the park is probably best known for its iconic photos of brown bears snatching salmon out of the air along the park's streams and rivers. After the expansion, the park protects not only denning areas for bears, but also vital spawning grounds for salmon and other fish and wildlife.

If watching bears go fishing is on your to-do list, you'll want to head to Brooks Camp between June and August where visitors can get close (but still a safe distance) to watch this incredible ritual. Other things to do in the park are hiking, camping, boating, fishing, and other guided tours around the park and around the Alaska Peninsula. Other nearby NPS sites you may want to visit are Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, The Alagnak Wild River, Aleutian World War II National Historic Area, and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park sits on the Kenai Peninsula where glaciers are still doing their work carving up the landscape. The park's central feature is the Harding Ice Field where visitors can hike around ice that spans centuries. Over half of the park is covered in ice.

It's not all cold and ice, however. The park protects rain forest, marine life, and the history and culture of Native Americans living here over a thousand years ago. Hiking, kayaking, flightseeing, fishing, and mountaineering are all available here. In the winter, fat-tire bikes, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and other activities are popular.

There are two Visitor Centers at the park. One is at Seward where you can catch a boat tour of the fjords, and the other is at the Exit Glacier Trailhead and is where you'll start your journey out to the Harding Ice Field. Seward is accessible by car, train, boat, plane, and cruise ship. The Alaska Railroad connects Seward and Anchorage in the summer. By car, Seward is about 126 miles from Anchorage.

Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area

The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area encompasses the areas around Seward and parts of Prince William Sound, along with surrounding communities. This NHA aims to tell the stories of the area's people and places, and includes camps, mining claims, railroads, trails, and plenty of outdoor recreational activities. Part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail runs through it, and several programs and annual events are held here. Click here to read more about the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park

In just one year between 1897-1898, 100,000 people set off to Alaska's Yukon Territory ready to strike it rich. Newly found gold along the Klondike River set off a gold rush that had never been seen before. The town of Skagway became the jumping-off point before heading up the treacherous White Pass Trail to the goldfields, which is where Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park memorializes this historic event. The park and museums have over twenty buildings that help tell the story of what life was like here. Explore the stories of men, women, robbers, scoundrels, and everything in between. If you like, you can even hike and camp along the original Chilkoot Trail.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park is open May through September. Skagway can be reached by sea plane, state ferry service, or by car (travel through Canada is required). If time allows, be sure to check out these three areas of the park - Skagway Historic District, the Dyea Townsite and Chilkoot Trail, and the White Pass Unit.

This park has two park units, one in Alaska and one in downtown Seattle, Washington.

Kobuk Valley National Park

Like many of Alaska's parks in the north, Kobuk Valley National Park is remote with no roads or services. It also means wide open spaces and solitude for those willing to take on the adventure. One of Kobuk Valley's most unique features is its sand dunes. The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes rise up along the Kobuk River and are a geologic leftover from ice moving across the area 28,000 years ago.

Another feature of the park is that it plays host to one of the great migrations of animals still taking place on Earth. The Western Arctic Caribou Herd - a quarter of a million strong - pass through the park on their 600-mile journey each spring and fall. In addition to the sand dunes and wildlife, camping, backpacking, fishing, and other activities are available. Local guides are available to help you out. The park has no facilities, and the Visitor Center is actually located 80 miles to the southwest in Kotzebue, Alaska. The Northwest Arctic Heritage Center is open all year and provides information, supplies, and a museum about the local Inupiaq culture.

Kobuk Valley started as a National Monument in 1978 and was later designated a National Park in 1980. Other relatively nearby parks include Noatak National Preserve (adjacent), Kobuk Valley National Preserve, Gates Of The Arctic National Park and Preserve, and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

Kobuk Wild and Scenic River

The Kobuk Wild and Scenic River is managed by Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and was designated in 1980. Kobuk literally means "big river" in the Inuit language, which is fitting since the Kobuk includes 110 miles of wild river. Paddling, rafting, and fishing are the most popular activities here.

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve includes over four million acres and has a little bit of everything - volcanoes, coastline, mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, and plenty of wilderness. From glaciers and tundra to forests and marshes, visitors can experience several different landscapes and ecosystems all in the same park. Park Headquarters and the Visitor Center are located in Port Alsworth, Alaska, which sits on the southern shore of Lake Clark.

Lake Clark itself is centrally located in the park and provides opportunities for fishing, paddling, and air taxi service. Visitors can also set off on the Tanalian trails network from here to reach Kontrashibuna Lake. In Lakes Country, visitors can hike to Richard Proenneke's Cabin or reach it by float plane to Upper Twin Lake. This iconic cabin was built by hand and can be visited during the summer months. View brown bears and do some fishing at the Cook Inlet Coast, where the salt marshes and salmon runs attract the bears. If you want to do some rafting, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve contains three National Wild Rivers - the Tlikakila, the Mulchatna, and the Chilikadrotna.

Like many places in Alaska, the best way to arrive at the park is by plane and air taxi. There are no roads in and out of the park. Because of logistics, it is best to plan your trip for either water landings, or land, beach, or gravel landings, as it's expensive for aircraft to change landing gear on the same trip. There are plenty of air taxi services that can help plan a great itinerary for your visit here.

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve was first established as a National Monument in 1978 and was then re-designated as a National Park and Preserve in 1980.

Mulchatna Wild and Scenic River

The Mulchatna Wild and Scenic  River stretches for 24 miles across parts of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and is known for its recreational activities and scenic beauty. Fishing for trout and grayling is particularly popular here, as well as multi-day float trips. The Mulchatna was designated in 1980.

Noatak National Preserve

The Noatak National Preserve was first established in 1978 and then re-designated in 1980 to protect and maintain the Noatak River and surrounding areas. The preserve encompasses 6.5 million acres, is an International Biosphere Reserve, and protects the nation’s largest unaltered river basin and watershed. The Noatak River is a National Scenic River for nearly its entire length. It also protects several species and habitats, including those used by caribou, grizzly bears, Dall's sheep, moose, wolves, and many bird species. These lands have also been home for the Inupiaq Eskimo for over 11,000 years. Visitors can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, flightseeing, and floating the river.

The preserve sits adjacent to both Kobuck Valley National Park and Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Visitor Center services can be found at The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot. There are no roads in the park, so getting here requires the use of an air taxi. Guides are available for trip planning here.

North Fork of the Koyukuk Wild River

Designated in 1980, the Koyukuk North Fork is a stretch of river running for 102 miles through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Hiking and floating the river are major draws, and it also serves as part of Alaska's caribou migration route.

Salmon Wild and Scenic River

As you might expect, Alaska's Salmon River is popular among anglers for its large runs of chum and pink salmon. In addition to its salmon runs and wildlife, the Salmon River is known for its beauty as it runs from the mountains through Arctic tundra and through lowland forest, before emptying into the Kobuk River. The Salmon Wild and Scenic River was established in 1980 and runs for about 70 miles through Kobuk Valley National Park.

Sitka National Historical Park

Sitka National Historical Park in Sitka, Alaska is Alaska's oldest federally designated park, and it tells the obscure story of Russia's colonialism in America, the native Tlingit people, and the pivotal Battle of 1804 between the two. Russia came out victorious, fortifying Sitka and remaining in Alaska until Russia ceded their interest in Alaska to the United States in 1867. The park also protects 113 acres of marine waters and forest habitats for several species, including salmon, char, trout, waterfowl, blacktail deer, brown bears, sea otters, sea lions, and whales.

Visitors to the park can learn about the rich Tlingit culture, including a unique collection of 25 totem poles created for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St Louis in 1904 that now decorate trails around the park. Craft and cultural demonstrations are led by local artists, as well as ranger-guided interpretive programs and hikes. Guests can also visit the Russian Bishop's House, one of only four remaining Russian-era buildings left in North America, and a National Historic Landmark.

Sitka is situated on Alaska's southwest coast along Alaska's Inside Passage. Getting to park requires travel by boat or plane - there are no roads connecting the park to the mainland.

Sitka National Historical Park was originally established in 1910 as a national monument and became a national park in 1972.

Tinayguk Wild and Scenic River

The Tinayguk River lies entirely within Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and is the largest tributary of another Wild and Scenic River - the North Fork of the Koyukuk. Tinayguk Wild and Scenic River was also designated in 1980 and runs for 44 miles through the spectacular Endicott Mountains.

Tlikakila Wild and Scenic River

The Tlikakila Wild River meanders through Lake Clark National Park and Preserve for 51 miles and is located entirely within the park. It flows through mountains and glaciers near where the Alaska Range ends and the Aleutian Range begins,  before finally emptying into Lake Clark. The river is popular with floaters because of the Class I-III whitewater. Trips normally take from 3-6 days. The Tinayguk Wild and Scenic River was designated in 1980.

Wrangell - St Elias National Park and Preserve

Named after two towering mountain ranges, the Wrangell and St. Elias Ranges, Wrangell - St Elias National Park and Preserve casts its shadow far and wide. It is the largest national park in the United States by a wide margin and protects 13.2 million acres, about 9 million acres of which are designated wilderness area. The park is a UN World Heritage Site, and when combined with neighboring Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, and Kluane National Park Reserve and Tatshenshini-Alsek National Parks in Canada, it's the largest internationally protected wilderness on Earth.

Its peaks are some of the tallest in North America. Mt. St. Elias is the second highest peak in the United States behind Denali at 18,008 feet, and the park holds nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States.

In a park this big, there are virtually unlimited activities and things to explore. Popular activities include camping, backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, flightseeing, fishing, and all manner of guided tours. The Wrangell-St. Elias Visitor Center is located in Copper Center, Alaska, about 200 miles northeast of Anchorage and 250 miles south of Fairbanks. The park can be explored by car on one of the two roads that lead in and out. Check out this page for suggested trip itineraries.

Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve

The Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve protects 115 miles of the Yukon River, and nearly all of the Charley River and its tributaries. The Charley River is also a designated National Wild and Scenic River and remains virtually untouched. Activities in the park are varied, and visitors can float the rivers, hike, camp, backpack, and fish, among other things. If you're floating the river, you can make use of the public use cabins along the river on a first-come, first-serve basis. Peregrine falcons and wolves are natives here, along with arctic ground squirrels, brown bears, Dall's sheep, moose, and snowshoe hares.

There are no roads in the park, and access is best done by air from Fairbanks, which is also where the preserve's headquarters are located. The Yukon-Charley Rivers National Monument was originally established in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter under the Antiquities Act and later became a National Preserve in 1980.