Nature & Science
“Do you have tigers in your park?” asks one student doing a report on Kobuk Valley National Park. Sadly no, but we do have grizzlies, mink, loons and wood frogs. People catch many salmon in the Kobuk River. We also know that this is the only place in the world where you can find the Kobuk Locoweed. The largest caribou herd in Alaska – about 490,000 animals - travels through this area during its migration. Inventory and monitoring efforts combined with traditional ecological knowledge provide information about the park’s natural resources. Currently, we estimate that there are 400 plants, 119 birds, 32 mammals, 23 fish, and 1 amphibian.
The park encompasses the Baird Mountains in the north, the Kobuk Sand Dunes in the south and the broad Kobuk River Valley in between. All together, this equals 1.7 million acres. The southern boundary of the park is 35 miles above the Arctic Circle. The boreal forest reaches its northern limit here, resulting in an open woodland of small trees in a mat of thick tundra. The Kobuk River winds its way slowly through the park for 61 miles.
The park was established to maintain the environmental integrity of the valley’s natural features in an undeveloped state and, in cooperation with local Natives, to protect and interpret archeological sites associated with Native cultures. As such, natural and archeological objects are protected. Leaving them where you find them preserves these special resources for the good of residents and visitors alike.
Did You Know?
Even though Kobuk Valley National Park gets only 50 cm of rain and snow each year, much of the lowland tundra is soggy. Permafrost, many feet below the surface of the soil, prevents the water from draining away.