Unalakleet National Wild River Recreation Management Area

Quick Facts

Unalakleet National Wild River Recreation Management Area

Alaska

(907) 267-1293

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located 400 miles from Anchorage, the Unalakleet National Wild River Recreation Management Area is a remote wilderness only accessible by plane. Rich with local culture in the nearby town of Unalakleet and with plenty of outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and camping, your visit to Unalakleet River will be an educational and beautiful experience.

The headwaters of the Unalakleet River originate in the Nulato Hills. These rolling hills divide rainfall and snow melt between the Norton Sound and the Yukon River basin. At this point, the river is swift and channelized, once it reaches the valley floor it begins to meander. For most of its length, the river has a varying pool/riffle nature, which offers a great diversity of river characteristics, boating skills, and fishing opportunities. Early settlements in Alaska were often located on rivers or along the coast because fishing and hunting opportunities were abundant and rivers provided an excellent way to travel between distant villages. The Unalakleet River was a major avenue of trade in the 19th century, connecting coastal Eskimos, Yukon River interior peoples and Russian merchants. The Iditarod National Historic Trail runs alongside the Unalakleet River to Bering Sea coast. The trail was once used by Alaska Native hunters, Russian explorers and gold seekers.

Map of Unalakleet Nat'l Wild Rvr Rec. Management Area

Latitude, Longitude: 63.878256, -160.769806

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Activities

  • Boating

    Set adrift and find the solitude and freedom your spirit craves. The Unalakleet's smooth, clear waters can be easily traversed by raft or canoe. Stream flow is relatively fast and the water is cold (about 40 to 50 degrees F.) so each person should have a personal flotation device and know how to recognize, prevent and treat hypothermia.

    Float trips from the confluence of the Unalakleet and the Old Woman rivers, a distance of 62 river miles, usually take an average of five days to travel. There are many gravel bars along the way for camping, fishing, and spotting wildlife.

  • Camping

    There are no established campsites or public facilities along the river corridor. Primitive, low impact camping is allowed only on gravel bars below the mean high water mark. The Unalakleet National Wild River corridor ends at its confluence with the Chiroskey River, 24 river miles from the village of Unalakleet. In the wild river corridor and below the Chiroskey River, there are individual Native allotments which are private. Contact the Unalakleet Native Corporation for permission to camp on Alaska Native lands below the Chiroskey River.

  • Fishing

    The Unalakleet River contains all five species of Pacific salmon, as well as Dolly Varden, char and arctic grayling. Sport fishing is regulated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Catch and release anglers should handle their catch gently and release them in slow, moving water, after ensuring they have recovered from the stress of capture. ADF&G offers additional guidance on angling ethics and responsible catch and release techniques.

  • Hunting

    Contact the park for more information.

Seasonality/Weather

In the summer the Unalakleet River supports such activities as fishing, boating, and camping. The best time to visit is July through mid-September to take full advantage of the midnight sunshine and discover what is considered to be one of the great salmon runs in Alaska.

The frozen Unalakleet River comes alive in winter with the joyful cries of sled dogs as the historic Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race parallels the frozen river en route to the finish line in Nome. Popular winter activities along the river corridor include snowmobiling, dog mushing, ice fishing, hunting and trapping.

Directions

Flying

The Unalakleet National Wild River is only accessible by plane.

Public Transportation

Individuals planning float trips may make arrangements for transportation up river with local residents.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(907) 267-1293

Links