All about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is located in northeast Alaska. It is the largest national wildlife refuge in the United States.  The refuge was created in 1960 but it was expanded in 1980.  The area protects six different ecozones from the northern coast to the Brooks Mountain range to the mighty Yukon River to boreal forest.  The area is home to polar bears, caribou, wolves, eagles.  During the summer, thousands of migratory birds visit.  The refuge is open to the public and is true wilderness.  There are no roads in the ANWR or any services outside of the small town of Kaktovik.

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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Profile

Region Alaska Region
Park Size

19,286,722 acres (30,135 sq miles) (78051 sq km)

About the size of South Carolina

Elevation Highest point: 8,901 feet (2,713 m) at  the summit of Mount Chamberlin
Lowest point: 0 feet (0 m) at the Beaufort Sea
Location North Slope Borough
Nearby Cities Kaktovik
Founding Date

Arctic National Wildlife Range – December 6, 1960

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge  – December 2, 1980 

Visitor 3,510,000 (in 2017) 
Busy Season July to early October
Visitor Centers None
Park Hours Open 365 days (24 hours a day)