Kobuk Valley National Park – Lodging, What to See & Best Tips

Petr Novák

Kobuk Valley, located in the remote region of Alaska, is one of the most secluded national parks in the USA. The park, situated just beyond the Arctic Circle, gets its name from the Kobuk River, which flows through its valley. Its famed Great Kobuk Sand Dunes have also contributed to its reputation.

Kobuk Valley National Park | © Education Specialist

Table of Contents
  1. Kobuk Valley National Park Information
  2. Attractions and Activities in Kobuk Valley National Park
  3. Best Time to Visit Kobuk Valley National Park
  4. Entrance Fees for Kobuk Valley National Park
  5. How to Get to Kobuk Valley National Park
  6. Lodging in Kobuk Valley National Park
  7. Tips and Advice Before Travelling to Kobuk Valley National Park
  8. Photos of Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk Valley National Park Information

Located in northwest Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park is partially bordered by the Waring and Baird Mountains. A mere 31 mi to the east lies the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Kobuk Valley is closer to Russia than to Canada. With an area of 2,735 mi2, the park is slightly larger than the average American national park.

In 2021, the park’s remote location resulted in a relatively low number of visitors, with only 11,540 people visiting Kobuk Valley. The highest point in the park, standing at 4,757 ft, is a mountain located in the Baird Mountains, bearing the challenging name Mount Angayukaqsraq.

Established on December 2, 1980, Kobuk Valley National Park was created to protect not only the pristine wildlife but also the cultural heritage of the local people. Known as the Inupiat, these inhabitants primarily earn their living from hunting and fishing.

The wildlife of the Kobuk Valley includes reindeer, moose, salmon, and the Arctic nelma (another species of fish). This part of the Alaskan wilderness is home to half a million reindeer. Other less common species found in the park are gray wolves, brown and black bears, and Alaskan sheep.

Attractions and Activities in Kobuk Valley National Park

The untouched nature and the incredible silence of Kobuk Valley National Park are its main draws. Only migrating herds of reindeer disturb the peace.

During the summer, multi-day hikes along mountain ridges, which are more accessible than the dense tundra, are quite popular. Notably, there are no marked trails in the entire park.

Paddlers can explore 348 mi of river flows, primarily along the Kobuk River. Folding canoes and kayaks are most suitable for these slow rivers. Visitors can also opt for guided experiences offered by commercial companies.

The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes are a favorite among visitors and can be utilized for camping.

In winter, small planes, snowmobiles, and dog sleds are used to traverse the park, with commercial operators providing these experiences.

For those who prefer not to stay in the park but still want to see it, scenic flights are available. These flights, lasting 2-5 hours, accommodate one to four passengers and may include a short stopover in the park. The usual cost for a one-hour flight is around $650.

Best Time to Visit Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk Valley National Park is accessible all year round; however, the weather plays a crucial role in deciding when to visit. Weather conditions can be extreme in the Arctic Circle, with the possibility of snow or freezing temperatures nearly every day of the year. The optimal time to visit is during the summer, from early June to mid-August.

In the summer, the average temperature is 50°F, but it can drop to 24.80°F and rise to 86°F. Mosquitoes can be a significant issue in June and July. The period between June 3 and July 9, when the sun never sets, is quite intriguing.

Autumn in Kobuk Valley lasts from mid August to mid-October. The skies are often clear, but mosquitoes remain an issue, and temperatures can range between 37°F and -4.00°F.

Winters are extreme, with freezing temperatures, snowstorms, blizzards, and the risk of hypothermia from mid-October until early April. The average temperature is 5.00°F, but in exceptional cases, it can drop to -40.00°F. On the winter solstice, December 21, the sun is only above the horizon for 1.5 hours, which is also the best time to observe the Northern Lights.

Spring is typically short, lasting from early April to late May. During this time, rivers thaw, snow melts, and temperatures are generally around 24.80°F.

Average Temperatures and Visitor Numbers in Kobuk Valley National Park

The average temperatures in Kobuk Valley National Park and the number of visitors are based on a five-year average from 2017 to 2021. The data source is the National Park Service.

Max Temp Min Temp Precipitation Days Visitors Popularity
January 5.00°F -9.40°F 4.3 1 217 🟨🟨
February 8.60°F -5.80°F 3.9 736 🟨🟨
March 15.80°F -2.20°F 3.1 820 🟨🟨
April 30°F 12.20°F 3.7 750 🟨🟨
May 52°F 32°F 5.4 735 🟨🟨
June 66°F 48°F 7.2 1 112 🟨🟨
July 68°F 52°F 10.7 1 374 🟨🟨
August 61°F 46°F 11.3 1 426 🟨🟨
September 50°F 36°F 8.2 1 536 🟧🟧🟧
October 30°F 17.60°F 5.8 1 891 🟧🟧🟧
November 10.40°F -0.40°F 4.2 1 558 🟧🟧🟧
December 5.00°F -7.60°F 4.6 1 493 🟧🟧🟧

Entrance Fees for Kobuk Valley National Park

There is no entrance fee to Kobuk Valley National Park, a policy also followed by other Alaskan parks.

How to Get to Kobuk Valley National Park

Accessing Kobuk Valley National Park, which has no roads leading to it, is only possible by air taxi.

It is advisable to begin your journey from the towns of Kotzebue, which is accessible from Anchorage, or Bettles, where commercial airlines provide services from Fairbanks. From either of these cities, you will need to take an air taxi to reach the park. The approximate cost for a round trip for two to three people from Kotzebue to the park by private plane is $2,600.

Lodging in Kobuk Valley National Park

The fact that Kobuk Valley National Park is a true wilderness is reflected in its lack of not just hotels and motels, but also designated campsites. Visitors are expected to camp in the wild.

Tips and Advice Before Travelling to Kobuk Valley National Park

ℹ️ Visitor Center

The Visitor Center for Kobuk Valley is located in the small village of Kotzebue, outside the park’s boundaries.

👍 Good to Know

Visitors are urged to prepare thoroughly before visiting this park. Those inexperienced in wilderness survival should not venture into Kobuk Valley alone. Cell phone service is unavailable in most areas of the park. Water from rivers and streams should always be purified with a filter or tablets.

Appropriate clothing for cold and rainy weather and for soggy terrain is a must. Remember to bring protection against mosquitoes.

Photos of Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk River in Kobuk Valley National Park | © National Park Service, Alaska Region

Kobuk Valley National Park | © Education Specialist

Kobuk River | © National Park Service, Alaska Region

Kobuk Valley National Park | © Education Specialist

Sand Dunes in Kobuk Valley NP | © National Park Service, Alaska Region

Kobuk Valley NP | © National Park Service, Alaska Region

Kobuk Valley National Park | © Education Specialist

US National Parks

  1. List of US National Parks
  2. America the Beautiful Annual Pass
  3. Timed-Entry Reservation for US National Parks

Travel Guides to USA National Parks

Contribute with Your Question or Personal Experience

Add a comment

Please read the article and preceding comments before posing any questions. I personally review all new comments and promptly remove any advertisements, spam, or offensive content.

Save on Car Rentals in the USA