White Mountains National Recreation Area

Quick Facts

White Mountains National Recreation Area

Alaska

(800) 437-7021

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located just an hour's drive from Fairbanks, White Mountains National Recreation Area offers stunning scenery, peaceful solitude, and outstanding opportunities for year-round recreation. This one-million-acre area is used primarily from February to April, when dog-mushers, snowmobilers, and skiers come to take advantage of the winter solitude and northern lights. Summer visitors to the White Mountains pan for gold, fish, hike and camp under Alaska's 'midnight sun.' The Nome Creek Road provides access to two campgrounds, trails, a gold-panning area and a departure point for float trips on Beaver Creek National Wild River. In winter, visitors travel by ski, snowshoe, dog team and snowmobile to enjoy the 12 public-use cabins and 250 miles of groomed trails that make the White Mountains one of Interior Alaska's premier winter destinations. Enjoy hunting, fishing, river exploration, winter sports and many other recreational opportunities. There is something for everyone here at White Mountains National Recreation Area.

Map of White Mountains NRA

Latitude, Longitude: 64.974550, -147.604742

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Activities

  • Boating

    River floating is a popular activity in the recreation area, via Beaver Creek. The first 127-miles of Beaver Creek run through the recreation area. The river's clear water, modest Class I rapids, and unparalleled scenery make for a relaxing trip. Floating Beaver Creek can take from seven days to three weeks to complete.

  • Bicycling

    The White Mountains National Recreation Area is managed as a multiple-use trail system. That means that a wide variety of uses can occur on the same trails, from snowmobiling to mountain biking to dog mushing.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The park is accessible via the Steese Highway, a popular auto touring spot.

  • Camping

    The three White Mountains campgrounds each offer a different experience. Campgrounds are maintained during the summer season (June thru mid-September) and have hand pump wells, trash cans, and outhouse-style toilets. Each campsite has a parking area, picnic tables, and fire rings. Firewood is not provided. The nearest RV dump station is in Fairbanks.

    All three campgrounds are recreation fee sites with registration and payment information near the entrances. There are 12 public recreation cabins in the White Mountains NRA trails and cabins system. The cabins are accessed most easily during the winter, but a few cabins can be reached during the summer by foot, mountain bikes, 4-wheelers, boats, and even airplanes. Distances from the road range from 7 miles (Lee's Cabin) to 40 miles (Windy Gap Cabin). The average distance between cabins is 10 miles.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is a common sport in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. Arctic grayling is the most common sport species found, along with northern pike and burbot. The Nome Creek valley supports a catch-and-release fishery for Arctic grayling and has special rules and seasons.

  • Hiking

    BLM maintains several developed trails that are popular in the summer and fall. Some White Mountains trails are impassable in summer due to wet, muddy conditions or difficult stream and lake crossings. The 16-mile Quartz Creek Trail crosses alpine tundra hillsides and spruce-forested valleys, passes rocky granite tors and crosses cold mountain streams. For hiking and other non-motorized use, try the Summit Trail, which follows a ridge from the Elliott Highway all the way to Beaver Creek.

    Winter is a magical time to visit the White Mountains National Recreation Area. Reaching the heart of the White Mountains becomes much easier this time of year, once creeks, rivers, and bogs freeze. The mosquitoes are gone, too, replaced by northern lights and pristine snow. And in winter, BLM's more than 220 miles of groomed trails provide access to the entire system of public recreation cabins, making possible multi-day trips where you spend each night in a different cabin.

  • Historic Sites

    The search for gold is what brought the early sourdoughs to Alaska. Today people are still looking for that glimmer of gold in Nome Creek, part of which has been designated as a recreational panning area.

    Want to try your luck at gold panning like the Alaska sourdoughs? A four-mile area has been identified for recreational gold panning on Nome Creek between the Nome Creek Bridge and the mouth of Moose Creek. Recreational gold panning is limited to hand tools and light equipment, such as gold pans, rocker boxes, sluice boxes, picks and shovels. Use of motorized equipment, such as backhoes, bulldozers and suction dredges, is not permitted.

  • Hunting

    The White Mountains National Recreation Area is open to sport hunting. Game species include moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, sheep, wolf and wolverine.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    Some areas in the White Mountains National Recreation Area are open to the use of motorized vehicles. In general, motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 1,500 lbs. or less can be operated on lands along the southern and western boundaries. (The term GVWR is defined by the BLM as the total weight of the vehicle plus its maximum load/carrying capacity as specified by the manufacturer.) Portions of the Wickersham Creek Trail, the Beaver Creek National Wild River corridor, and the lands beyond the corridor are closed to summer use of motorized vehicles. There are also three Research Natural Areas and several hiking trails that are closed year-round to motorized use. See BLM's Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) management map to find areas open to the operation of OHVs.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is available throughout the recreation area and at campgrounds.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Species that can be seen in the recreation area include moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, sheep, wolf and wolverine.

  • Winter Sports

    Snowmobiling, dog mushing and cross-country skiing have long been popular winter pastimes in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. Skijoring (cross-country skiing while being pulled by dogs) and winter mountain biking are rapidly growing winter sports. The White Mountains National Recreation Area offers more than 240 miles of maintained winter trails and 14 public recreation cabins surrounded by jagged limestone mountains and cliffs, high mountain passes, and broad, rounded valleys. Whether you choose to explore by ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, or dog team, you'll find crisp, clean air, dazzling views, and if you're lucky, shimmering northern lights against a star-studded sky.

    Dog sledding, also called dog mushing, is a popular Alaska winter sport. Teams with up to 15 dogs commonly travel the White Mountains trails. Some of the state's most competetive racers train in the White Mountains with their teams, but you're just as likely to encounter local families out for a relaxing tour.

Seasonality/Weather

Winter visitors should plan for extreme cold, high winds, deep snow, and unexpected changes in weather. Temperatures may be as much as 25 degrees colder than in Fairbanks! Watch out for thin ice or open water on streams, overflow ice, and avalanches. Use caution at all river crossings! Summer visitors should be prepared for rain or snow, lightning, and wildfires. Water levels of streams and rivers may rise rapidly without warning. Maintain a clean camp and be alert for bears.

Directions

Driving

Begin your trip at the BLM office or the Alaska Public Lands Information Center (an interagency office) in Fairbanks, where you can obtain detailed directions, as well as the latest information on trail and weather conditions. Most summer hiking occurs along the Summit Trail at mile 28, Elliott Highway. Winter access is at mile 28 as well as mile 57, Elliott Highway. BLM is also developing a new access point off U.S. Creek Rd., mile 57, Steese Highway.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(800) 437-7021

Weather

(907) 474-2372

Links