Visitors should be prepared to enjoy a non-traditional national park experience. There are no roads, trails, campgrounds or regularly attended ranger stations in Kobuk Valley National Park. Access is typically by small aircraft, which can cost several hundred dollars per hour. Flight companies who are licensed commercial businesses are available in Kotzebue and Bettles. Study a topographic map of the area you would like to visit, then discuss drop off and pick up locations with the flight company you choose. Always plan 2-3 extra days in your trip for delays due to weather. One-day flightseeing trips can also be arranged with your pilot. Pack clothing for wet and cold weather, even if the forecast says warm and sunny. Park rangers at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center can answer specific questions as you work through your planning process. Call 907.442.3890.
Even in summer, weather should be on your mind. Conditions can change rapidly and dramatically, so be prepared for a wild range of temperatures and precipitation. Read more tips on preparing for Arctic weather.
Leave No Trace
Protect the environment in the park and help the next visitor have a good experience, try not to leave any evidence of your trip. Pack out everything you pack in.
Leave any natural items or artifacts just as you find them - bring home pictures instead. Keep food and scented items out of animals' reach by using effective animal resistant food containers. Bury human waste in a 6-inch deep hole at least 20 feet from streams and lakes. Generally, spread your group out as you hike. However, on the delicate lichen mats around the sand dunes, hiking in single file does less damage. Do not create rock cairns or arrows to direct other hikers. Leave the wilderness trail-less. Scatter ashes and rock rings from campfires.
Some small streams in the park may be safe to drink from, but larger rivers are usually not clean enough to be safely potable. However, it is impossible to judge by the look of the water. Plan to treat all your drinking water taken from streams, lakes or rivers using filters or tablets.