• Image of sand dunes

    Kobuk Valley

    National Park Alaska

Frequently Asked Questions

What designations are associated with Kobuk Valley National Park?
National Park - December 2, 1980
National Monument - December 1, 1978

What is the origin of the name Kobuk?
Kobuk Valley National Park is named after the Kobuk River valley, which runs through its center. According to the Dictionary of Alaska Placenames (by Donald J. Orth), "Kobuk" is an Inupiaq Eskimo word meaning "big river." In older publications it is sometimes spelled "Kowak" or "Kowuk." Several 19th century explorers recorded the name with different spellings, such as: Ku-buck, Koowak, Kowak, Kooak, Kopak, Kubuk, and Kuvuk.

What is the tallest mountain in Kobuk Valley National Park?
The tallest mountain in the park – Mount Angayukaqsraq – is 4760 feet high.

How were the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes created?
While no glaciers currently exist within the park, at least five major Pleistocene glaciations have been identified in Northwest Alaska. Between times of two early glaciations, retreating ice left pulverized rock in its wake and no vegetation to hold it down. Strong easterly winds blew this loose sand and rock into the 200 foot high barchan dunes we see today.

How long does it take to float through the park on the Kobuk River?
The Kobuk River is a low gradient, slow-moving river. Starting in the village of Ambler, boating through the park and ending in the village of Kiana will take about 5-7 days.

Who can take me on a trip in the park?
Any businesses, such as guides and transporters operating in the park, must have a current permit from the National Park Service. Please refer to the current list of commercial use authorizations for a choice of service providers.

Is there lodging available in Kobuk Valley National Park?
There are no accommodations or public facilities within the park. Backcountry camping is the only way to spend the night. Campers must provide their own gear. Visitors can find minimal supplies in the villages of Ambler and Kiana.

Are there any endangered species in Kobuk Valley National Park?
There are no threatened or endangered species listed for the park.

Can I conduct research in the park?
All research proposals on National Park Service land need to be reviewed by park staff before a permit is granted. To learn more or get started on the application process, visit the following website: https://science1.nature.nps.gov/research/ac/ResearchIndex

How many people visit Kobuk Valley National Park each year?
Statistics on visitor use and population are collected throughout the year. Many “visitors” are local residents traveling through the park from village to village or for subsistence activities. Since there is no entrance gate collecting data on this population, the visitor statistics for this group are an estimate. Information is available through the following website: http://www2.nature.nps.gov/stats/

Is there a fee to get in the park?
Kobuk Valley National Park does not have an entrance gate, nor does it collect any fees to travel or camp in the park.

Where can I get my official passport stamp for the park?
Passport stamps are available at the National Park Service offices in Kotzebue and Nome. The stamps are also available at the Innaigvik Education and Information Center in Kotzebue in the summer. The staff in Kotzebue and Nome can also mail a stamped paper to your postal address if you are unable to visit any of the offices.

When are the mosquitoes really active?
June and July seem to be the best months for mosquitoes. Birds and other insect eaters are fat and happy, but people are usually less enthusiastic. Plan to cover up or use repellant. Typically, there are fewer insects of all kinds in August and September.

When is a good time to float the Kobuk River?
June may be too early – the river may still be frozen. July, August and early September are preferable. Be cautious about ice forming on the river by mid to late September. Ice break up and freeze up times can vary, so pay close attention to weather data before and during your trip.

Did You Know?

Image of Kobuk Locoweed (Oxytropis kobukensis)

The only place in the world that Oxytropis kobukensis (Kobuk locoweed) can be found is in the sand dunes of Kobuk Valley National Park.