Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge


(907) 883-5312

Map Directions

Things To Do


Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is a dynamic landscape made up of forests, wetlands, tundra, lakes, mountains and glacial rivers bounded by the snowy peaks of the Alaska Range. This upper Tanana River valley has been called the "Tetlin Passage," because it serves as a major migratory route for birds traveling to and from Canada, the lower 48 and both Central and South America. Many of these birds breed and nest on the refuge. Others pass through on their way to breeding and nesting grounds elsewhere in the state. Migrants, including ducks, geese, swans, cranes, raptors and songbirds, begin arriving in the valley in April, and continue into early June. An estimated 117 species breed on Tetlin during the short summer, when long days and warm temperatures accelerate the growth of plants, insects and other invertebrates, providing a ready source of rich foods for nesting birds. Tetlin Refuge also supports a variety of large mammals. Dall sheep dot the higher slopes while moose feed upon the tender new growth that springs up in the wake of frequent lightning caused fires. Wolves, grizzly and black bears and members of three different caribou herds range over the refuge. Two of the six known humpback whitefish spawning areas in the Yukon River drainage are located within the refuge. Along with caribou and moose, these fish are important subsistence resources for area residents. Arctic grayling, northern pike and burbot are also found in the refuge's many streams and lakes.

Map of Tetlin NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 62.664284, -141.056038



  • Boating

    Boat ramps are located at the Chisana River, ¼ mile south of Northway Junction and at Deadman Lake Campground. Small boat/raft access is also available from Desper Creek and Lakeview Campground. A small boat is available to visitors at Hidden Lake. One of the best ways to explore Tetlin Refuge is by canoe. Lakes at both campgrounds offer easy canoeing. Desper and Scottie Creeks are small, clear, slow moving streams with Alaska Highway access which may be found at mileposts 1223 and 1225. Day or overnight trips are possible up to 17 miles long. The Chisana River is a large, fast, glacier fed river with no rapids below Scottie Creek. A good 4 - 6 day (70 mile) trip is available if started on Desper Creek.

  • Bird Watching

    Spring and fall are the best time to see the most bird species on the refuge. More than 180 bird species can be found in the Upper Tanana Valley. Waterfowl may be seen in these areas:

    MP 1221.6 Set of lakes on the north side of highway

    MP 1223-1225.7 Desper & Scotty Creeks - wetlands and lakes on both sides of highway

    MP 1267 Lakes south of the highway

    MP 1289 Midway Lake (private lands on south side of highway)

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The refuge is accessed easily along the Alaska Highway. There are many sights to see along the highway, and is a good way to see this part of Alaska.

  • Camping

    Two public campgrounds along the Alaska Highway are operated and maintained by the Refuge. Deadman Lake Campground (MP 1249.3) has 15 campsites (6 sites are suitable for large motor homes) in the spruce forest along a half-mile loop road; firepits, toilets, picnic tables, a boat ramp and information board are available. (Note: There is no drinking water available at this site.) Lakeview Campground (MP 1256.7) has 11 campsites; available at this facility are tables, toilets, firepits and garbage containers. NOTE: Lakeview is not recommended for trailers, 5th wheels or RVs over 30 feet.

    The refuge has three administrative cabins available on a reservation basis. Wellesley Lake and Jatahmund Lake cabins are accessible only by float plane. Nabesna River cabin is accessible by boat on the Nabesna River. If you are interested in reserving one of these cabins, a reservation form must be submitted by phone, by mail, or in person at the Refuge Headquarters (during business hours) no more than 120 days prior to the requested date of use. Reservations will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. A party may not reserve a cabin for more than five consecutive nights. The primary purpose of these cabins is to support refuge field operations. However, every attempt will be made to accommodate requests for reservations. These cabins can not be used for commercial use

  • Fishing

    Northern pike, burbot and grayling are the most popular sport fish on the Refuge. There are also rainbow trout in Hidden Lake which were stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. State fishing regulations are available at the Refuge office or Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Tok. State licenses are available from local businesses.

  • Hiking

    Hidden Lake Trail is a 1-mile trail through deciduous and lowland forest to Hidden Lake. An elevated, running plank boardwalk keeps visitors dry while hiking to the beautiful destination of Hidden Lake. It is a quiet, attractive undeveloped area with no facilities. Taiga Trail is a quarter-mile interpretive walk at Deadman Lake Campground, and it leads to an observation deck for this lovely lake. There are opportunities for backcountry hiking on the Refuge for experienced hikers with wilderness survival skills.

  • Hunting

    Refuge lands are open to hunting in accordance with state and federal regulations. There are unposted privately owned lands within the Refuge boundary that are not open to hunting. Please check with refuge staff for details.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Snowcapped mountains, glacier-fed rivers, forests, tundra and an abundance of wetlands are a haven for wildlife, especially migratory birds.


Spring and fall are the best time to see the most bird species on the refuge, but the refuge is open year-round.



The Tetlin Refuge headquarters is located at milepost 1314.1 on the Alaska Highway in Tok, Alaska. The community of Tok is located 94 miles northwest of the U.S./Canada border, and is 205 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. The refuge's visitor welcome station is located at milepost 1229 on the Alaska Highway, just seven miles from the U.S./Canada border. The northern boundary of Tetlin Refuge extends 65 miles along the Alaska Highway. Foot access to the northern portion of the refuge is available along the Alaska Highway from the U.S./Canada border at milepost 1221.5 to milepost 1242 of the Alaska Highway.


Small boat/canoe access is available at Desper Creek at milepost 1225.4, the Chisana River bridge in Northway at milepost 1264, the old Riverside airstrip at milepost 1281 and at the Tanana River bridge at milepost 1303.6. Access to the interior of the refuge is limited to watercraft, small ski/float equipped airplane, foot travel or snowmachine.

Phone Numbers


(907) 883-5312