Top Place: Western Arctic Reserve

Caribou crossing in the Western Arctic Reserve
Western Arctic National Parklands, Flickr
The Western Arctic Reserve contains some of the world’s best and most sensitive wildlife and bird habitat.

What is the Western Arctic Reserve?

The Western Arctic Reserve, also known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, is a vast 22.1 million-acre home to Arctic wildlife on Alaska’s North Slope. The area is roughly the size of Indiana.

The government set aside the Petroleum Reserve in 1923 so the U.S. Navy would have an emergency oil supply. For years, The Wilderness Society has helped lead bipartisan support for protecting wildlife while managing resource extraction carefully.

What is the one best thing about the Western Arctic Reserve?

Arctic wildlife remains in healthy numbers in the Western Arctic Reserve — especially in important habitat like Teshekpuk Lake, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Utukok Uplands.

  • Teshekpuk Lake: Teshekpuk Lake is home to caribou calving grounds. It’s also a home to King Eiders, one of North America’s most remarkable waterfowl species.
  • Kasegaluk Lagoon Special Area: In the Kasegaluk Lagoon Special Area, calving beluga whales and hundreds of walrus gather amid spotted seals and denning polar bears.
  • Utukok Uplands: Further inland, in the Utukok Uplands, raptors and moose thrive where several rivers carve out long corridors of important habitat.

What’s one activity the Western Arctic Reserve is known for?

Backcountry journeys into the unspoiled wild.

The Western Arctic Reserve is remote country — remote even for Alaska. Wilderness camping and wildlife watching attract those hoping to travel far off the beaten path.

Interested in backcountry journeys? Get insider tips.

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

We support striking a balance between Arctic oil drilling and protecting the Reserve’s Arctic wildlife. That means keeping the rush for more Arctic drilling out of places like Teshekpuk Lake, where caribou, King Eiders and other seabirds thrive.

Learn more about our work in the Western Arctic Reserve.

Helpful links

  • Alaskan Sportsman:

  • Bureau of Land Management:

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