• Chunks of melting sea ice along a shoreline and subsistence camps on the beach in the background.

    Cape Krusenstern

    National Monument Alaska

The Beach Ridges of the Cape

Cape Krusenstern National Monument is a coastal plain dotted with sizable lagoons and backed by gently rolling limestone hills. Nearly 5000 years of prehistory are represented on the 114 well- preserved beach ridges located adjacent to Krusenstern Lagoon (Giddings and Anderson 1986). Sites on the bluff behind the beach ridges may date as early as 9,000 year before present.

Because the ridges accumulated over time, the earliest ridges lie inland, and the most recently formed ridges and bluffs near the shore. This unusual series of beach ridges present, in sequence, detailed evidence of an estimated 9,000 years of prehistoric human use of this coastline. Some archeological sites here are older than well-known remains of ancient Egyptian civilizations.

In summer, wildflowers color the beach ridges and nearby hills. Large numbers of migratory birds come from all over the world to Cape Krusenstern to nest. In fall, these migrating birds use the lagoons as feeding and staging areas. Shifting sea ice, ocean currents, and waves continue to form spits and lagoons possessing important scientific, cultural, and scenic values.

Along the outer beaches, Alaska Natives still hunt marine mammals. Local rural residents are allowed to hunt in the Monument. A road to the Red Dog mine crosses the northern boundary. Trucks haul lead and zinc from open pit mines to a tidewater port. TeckCominco Alaska operates the mine. It is owned by the NANA Regional Corp., a Native owned corporation based in Kotzebue.

Did You Know?

Image of blue sky with a white cloud

Cape Krusenstern Monument has extreme seasonal variations in daylight because of its northern location. The sky remains light for three continuous months in summer, while in midwinter a diffuse light occurs for only two to three hours per day.