Getting ThereKobuk Valley National Park is very remote. There are no roads to provide access, so planes take care of most transportation needs.
Commercial airlines provide service from Anchorage to Kotzebue, or from Fairbanks to Bettles. Once in Kotzebue or Bettles, you must fly to the park with authorized air taxis. From Kotzebue, commercial airlines provide regularly scheduled flights to villages near the park.
Summer access may include motorized/non-motorized watercraft, aircraft, or by foot. Some visitors bring their own packable boats and have pilots drop them off to start a float through the park. Study a topographic map, then talk with a pilot to decide on a feasible backcountry landing spot. Or plan to fly the boat as cargo on a small commercial plane to the villages of Kobuk, Shungnak or Ambler to start a trip on the Kobuk River. The take out and flight home can be from the villages of Kiana or Noorvik. Hiking into the park from Kotzebue or Bettles is possible, but it's a wilderness trek over rough terrain that requires many weeks to complete.
Winter access may include aircraft, snowmobiles or by foot. Small commercial planes fly to the local villages year round, weather permitting. Chartered aircraft may be able to land at backcountry sites on skis when the weather is clear. There are no local equipment rental services in Kotzebue. With advance planning, visitors can bring their own skis, snowshoes, dogteam or snowmobiles to travel into the park. Any winter trip requires advanced knowledge of cold weather survival.
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.