Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge


(907) 456-0440

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Things To Do



The third largest conservation area in the National Wildlife Refuge System, the 9 million-acre Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge is located in eastern interior Alaska. It includes the Yukon Flats, a vast wetland basin bisected by the Yukon River. The basin is underlain by permafrost and includes a complex network of lakes, streams, and rivers. The area is characterized by mixed forests dominated by spruce, birch, and aspen. The refuge supports the highest density of breeding ducks in Alaska, and includes one of the greatest waterfowl breeding areas in North America. In fact, most of Yukon Flats' birds are seasonal residents, fleeing south before the hard grip of winter closes over the land. Some 13 species, however (including boreal chickadees, great gray owls, spruce grouse, three-toed woodpeckers and ravens), remain on the refuge year around. The same landscape that so favors waterfowl is also beneficial to furbearers, many of which, including beaver, lynx, marten, mink, muskrat and river otter, thrive on the water-laced flood plain. Moose can be found throughout the refuge as well as grizzly bears, in low concentrations, while the more common black bears tend to keep to the forested lowlands. Wolves can also be encountered anywhere on the refuge, but are rarely sighted. Dall sheep can be spotted on the alpine tundra of the White Mountains and Hodzana Highlands. Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity including nesting waterfowl, other migratory birds, dall sheep, bears, moose, wolves. wolverines, other furbearers, caribou, and salmon; to fulfill international treaty obligations; to provide for continued subsistence uses; and to ensure necessary water quality and quantity.

Map of Yukon Flats NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 66.222600, -146.683960



  • Boating

    Boating is one of the only ways to get around the refuge, as well as one of the only ways to get to the refuge.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is allowed at the refuge. Follow federal and state regulations.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is allowed at the refuge. Follow state regulations.


The Yukon Flats has a continental subarctic climate, with great seasonal extremes in temperature and daylight. Summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees F, warmer than any other comparable latitude in North America. Winter temperatures can drop to -70 degrees F.

The weather on the refuge is similar to that of Fairbanks, Alaska, and is referred to as "continental subarctic," characterized by great seasonal extremes of temperature and daylight. Warm summer temperatures are augmented by essentially continuous sunlight and brief summer storms, while extreme winter cold spells are punctuated by long hours of darkness and little wind. The relatively dry climate supports abundant plant growth thanks to frozen subsoils and a low evaporation rate. Plant communities are also shaped by frequent summer storms that produce very little rain, but numerous lightning strikes. These "dry" storms cause numerous wildfires resulting from lightning strikes. Occasional flooding also shapes the landscape and creates habitat diversity.

Refuge lands are open to the public at all times. The refuge office in Fairbanks is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, excluding federal recognized holidays.



The refuge office is located in room 264 of the Federal Building at 101 12th Avenue in Fairbanks, Alaska. There is no visitor center, nor are there any public facilities, on the refuge itself. The refuge is located about 100 miles north of Fairbanks. Visitors may drive the Steese Highway (a gravel road) from Fairbanks to the Yukon River, at Circle, and travel down the river via watercraft into the refuge. Visitors may also drive up the Dalton Highway to the Yukon River Bridge and travel upriver about 5 miles to reach the refuge.


Access is primarily by aircraft and boat. There are regularly scheduled commercial flights between Fairbanks and the seven villages in or near the refuge. Charter service to remote lakes and gravel bars along rivers is also available from Fairbanks and Fort Yukon.

Public Transportation

Water-based transportation is the next most common means of moving through the area. Floaters enjoy river access provided by the Yukon, Porcupine, Sheenjek, and other rivers. Some floaters drive the Nome Creek Road northeast of Fairbanks to put in on upper Beaver Creek (White Mountains National Recreation Area) and either float to a pick-up spot at the refuge boundary or continue to the Dalton Highway Bridge. In summer, boaters can power upstream on the Yukon River from the Dalton Highway Bridge while others go downstream from the village of Circle.

Phone Numbers


(907) 456-0440