Weather is a central concern to those planning to visit Noatak National Preserve at any time of year. Summer temperatures are usually in the mid 50°'s F, with mid 60’s to 70° for highs. Some days in July may reach 80° F. Average January lows are 5°F with possible lows of -50°F. Annual averages are not always good guidelines, however. In summer, visitors can see snow, near freezing temperatures, and long periods of clouds, wind, and rain.
Winds average 8 to 12 mph, but 50 to 70 mph winds may accompany storms and produce extremely low and dangerous wind chill factors. Strong summer winds blowing upstream may make it difficult to raft downstream on the Noatak River. Any time of year, exposure and hypothermia are real threats to visitors and preserve personnel. Be prepared – everyone should plan on meeting all of their own survival needs while traveling in the preserve. For back country hiking/camping, wear plenty of warm clothing, dress in layers, and use rain gear. Wear sturdy hiking boots and waders for wet terrain.
Summer days are long and energized with sunlight. The sun does not set between June 3rd and July 9th. Winter days are short. Although beautiful twilight lasts hours each day, the sun is above the horizon only one 1 ½ hours on December 21st. Northern lights are active year round, but are best seen during high solar activity on the darkest nights of winter.