Top Place: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Caribou in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
USFWS, Flickr
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the nation’s largest wildlife refuge. It is a pristine landscape of tundra plains and dramatic mountain peaks.

What is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sits at the nation’s wildest, most northern edge. The Arctic Refuge spans from the Alaskan wilderness of the Porcupine River upland to the tundra of the coastal plain that leads out to the Arctic Ocean. At 19.3 million acres, it is approximately the size of South Carolina.

There are no roads, marked trails or campgrounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — but there are many wilderness opportunities, from wildlife watching to hiking. The Refuge’s wild, unspoiled nature is part of its rugged appeal. Visitors who come prepared rarely leave disappointed.

What is the one best thing about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

The Arctic Refuge remains one of the last truly pristine areas on Earth. For thousands of years it has provided safe haven to renowned species, from great snowy owls and bowhead whales to more than 45 species of mammals. The area also has been a home to Native Gwich’in communities for many generations.

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What’s one activity the Arctic Refuge is known for?

Wildlife watching.

In June and July, tour groups visit the Arctic Refuge in search of the ultimate Arctic wildlife experience. Nothing compares to watching the 100,000-plus Porcupine caribou herd spill across the landscape like a giant, living wave.

Unfortunately, another activity the Arctic Refuge may someday be known for is oil drilling. Many oil companies would like to exploit this pristine area for profit. Year after year, the oil and gas lobby tries to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. The Wilderness Society is working hard to protect it from this fate.

Interested in wildlife watching? Get insider tips.

What’s one way The Wilderness Society is working to protect the Arctic Refuge?

A wildlife-rich coastal plain forms the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s biological heart. At Wilderness, we are working to give this place the highest level of protection and to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

To protect the Arctic Refuge, we focus on:

● Protecting more wilderness and wildlife habitat
● Increasing the areas’ resilience to climate change
● Pushing for smarter energy development

Learn more about our work in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.