Kobuk ValleyAlaska 

Alaskan sand dunes and caribou migration.

Kobuk Valley National Park

This 1.7 million acre national park is located in northwestern Alaska 25 miles north of the Atlantic Circle. It is known for its approximately 20,500 acres of sand dunes and the migration of the caribou herd every spring and fall. The park also protects the evidence of North America’s first inhabitants, with evidence of caribou hunting in the area at Onion Portage dates back at least 9,000 years.

There are no roads, trails, gift shops, campgrounds or parking facilities within the park. The visitor center and park headquarters are located in Kotzebue outside the park. Access to the park is by air.

Although north of the Arctic Circle, the park is bisected by the Kobuk River and teems with wildlife activity during the short summer. The park lies at the junction of the boreal forest with the arctic tundra.

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Sand Dunes

The movement of ancient glaciers against the mountains during the last Ice Age created the sand which has been carried to the Kobuk Valley by wind and water. Much of the southern portion of the Kobuk Valley is now covered by sand, left behind when the glaciers retreated.

There are three sand dunes in the area, with the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes occupying 25 square miles and some dunes reaching to 100 feet tall. These are the largest active sand dunes in the Arctic.


The Western Arctic Caribou Herd, the largest in the United States, passes through the park twice a year on its migration, leaving millions of hoof prints on the sand. The caribou typically summers at Noatak and winters at Selawik.

City of Kotzebue

Hiking, birding and fishing are popular activities in the gateway town to Kobuk Valley National Park. The Northwest Arctic Heritage Center, the visitor center for the national park, is also located here. The Kotzebue airport can be reached by a flight on Alaska Airlines from Anchorage. You can charter an authorized air taxi from there.

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