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Encyclopedia > Kobuk Valley National Park

Established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, Kobuk Valley National Park is a United States National Park in northwestern Alaska north of the Arctic Circle. It is noted for the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. The park offers backcountry camping, hiking, and backpacking, and dog mushing is popular.


Delimited by the Warring Mountains in the South and the Baird Mountains in the North, it is the centerpiece of a vast ecosystem, of which the most visible inhabitants are the caribou of the Western Artic herd. This herd, which includes more than 400000 caribou, migrate annually between their winter breeding grounds, south of the Warring Mountains, and their summer calving grounds, north of the Baird Mountains. It is an impressive sight to witness them swimming across the Kobuk River, a journey that has been for ages central to the lifestyle of the Inupiaq eskimos, who hunt for subsistence the caribou along the river. In this most isolated place, the least visited of the US National Parks, they are the only other humans you are likely to see.


No roads lead to the park. It is accessible by foot, dogsled, or snowmobile, and chartered air taxis from Nome and Kotzebue are available year-round. The park is one of the least visited in the entire National Park System.


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