Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge


(907) 532-2445

Map Directions

Things To Do


Izembek National Wildlife Refuge surrounds and protects the Izembek Lagoon, critically important habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and a designated Wetland of International Importance. Most of the refuge is designated Wilderness. The lagoon contains one of the largest eelgrass beds in the world. Hundreds of thousands of waterfowl, including nearly the entire population of Pacific brant and most of the world's emperor geese depend on the refuge during spring and fall migrations. Other geese, ducks, and shorebirds are also abundant in the fall. The Steller's eider is abundant during winter. All five species of Pacific salmon are found in refuge waters. Brown bear, caribou, river otter, gray wolf and 19 other species of land mammals inhabit the refuge. Sea otters, Steller's sea lions, and harbor seals are found on coastlines and gray, killer, and minke whales are common offshore. World War II brought frenzied activity to Cold Bay. Fort Randall was established as a western post to stave off Pacific invasions during WWII. During the Vietnam Conflict, Thornbrough Air Force Base served as a dispatch point for units en route to Asia. Most war-era buildings have been torn down but relicts dot the landscape. Unexploded ordnance has been occassionally encountered in unexpected places. A brochure is availalble at the Refuge headquarters to help you recognize the various types of ordance you might find.

Map of Izembek NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 55.290065, -162.785797



  • Boating

    Contact the park for information on boating.

  • Camping

    Backpacking and remote camping can be spectacular. However, caution should always be used in regard to rapidly changing weather conditions. Even during the summer months, high winds and heavy rainstorms are common. The weather on the Southern Alaska Peninsula is well known as windy and changeable. While visiting you will be in bear habitat, so hike and camp accordingly.

  • Fishing

    Five species of salmon, silver (coho); pink (humpback); sockeye (red); chum (dog); and chinook (king), fill the waters of the Refuge. Fishing opportunities for salmon are best from August through September. Depending upon the location and time of year, lucky anglers can also expect to harvest Dolly Varden and steelhead trout from Refuge streams. The annual Silver Salmon Derby is held in Cold Bay every year during the Labor Day weekend. As always, when fishing, be bear-aware. The large coastal brown bears are feeding on the same salmon you are trying to catch!

  • Hunting

    Izembek Refuge's hunting opportunities, particularly for brown bear and waterfowl, are world famous. When salmon are running, brown bear densities can be among the highest recorded in Alaska; as many as six bears per mile along some streams. Fall waterfowl hunting is spectacular and hardy wetland enthusiasts can pursue light and dark geese (Canada geese, black brant), dabbling ducks (mallard, pintail, wigeon), diving ducks (scaup, goldeneye), and sea ducks (harlequin, long-tailed, black scoter). Ptarmigan are abundant and sought after by many hunters. The Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd is currently at a healthy level, which supports human harvest, with both resident and non-resident seasons available. In the area primarily between Pavlof Bay and Port Moller Bay, a resident moose season is open in December and January for local hunters to harvest a bull.


Refuge lands and waters are open to the public at all times.



The Refuge is accessible via commercial aircraft on PenAir (http://www.penair.com) from Anchorage to Cold Bay, or by marine ferry Alaska Marine Highway System (http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs); there is no road access from Anchorage. Once in Cold Bay, vehicle access to a small part of the Refuge is via a gravel road system. These primitive roads allow access to the shoreline of Izembek Lagoon, the shoreline of Cold Bay, Russell Creek, and the lower flanks of 6,600-foot Frosty Peak.

Phone Numbers


(907) 532-2445