Is the refuge open to visitors? Yes. The refuge is open to boating, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, photography, and other types of recreation subject to applicable rules and regulations. A special use permit is required for all commercial, scientific research, or collection activities on refuge lands and waters. Visitors should also be aware of possible restrictions on using private land within the refuge. Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge boundaries surround approximately 2.5 million acres of private lands. Feel free to contact the refuge office or visit the Alaska Geographic online bookstore, before your visit.
How do I get to the refuge? The refuge is not accessible by road. Typically visitors take commercial flights to villages within the refuge or charter aircraft to remote landing sites. Water-based transportation is the next most common means of moving through the area. Floaters enjoy river access provided by the Yukon, Porcupine, Sheenjek, and other rivers. Some floaters drive the Nome Creek Road northeast of Fairbanks to put in on upper Beaver Creek (White Mountains National Recreation Area) and either float to a pick-up spot at the refuge boundary or continue to the Dalton Highway Bridge. In summer, boaters can power upstream on the Yukon River from the Dalton Highway Bridge while others go downstream from the village of Circle.
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Is hunting, fishing, or trapping allowed? Yes. These activities have been found to be compatible with the purposes for which the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge was established. The National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 states that hunting and fishing are two of the six priority public uses on national wildlife refuges, and are to be facilitated when compatible with refuge purposes. However, hunting, fishing and trapping are regulated by state and federal regulations. Qualified federal subsistence users should visit the Office of Subsistence Management and recreational hunters, trappers, and anglers should be familiar with of State of Alaska Fish and Game Department regulations.
Are commercial aircraft operators available to take me onto the refuge? Yes. The refuge does permit commercial aircraft use. Businesses must be certified with the Federal Aviation Administration and be properly insured. Permitted air taxi operators may transport passengers and personal gear to remote locations throughout the year in compliance with refuge regulations.
Are commercial recreation guides available? Yes. The refuge does permit commercial recreation guiding. Businesses must carry appropriate insurance. Permitted recreation guides may provide services throughout the year in compliance with refuge regulations.
Can someone build and own a recreational cabin on the refuge? No. Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 36.33(b)(4) states, “No special use permit will be issued for the construction of a cabin for private recreational use or for the private recreational use of an existing cabin.” In general, new cabin permits are issued only to local residents to pursue legitimate subsistence activities which require a cabin and when the applicant lacks a reasonable off-refuge site.
Is gold panning allowed on the refuge? Yes. Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 36.31(b) states, “Surface collection, by hand (including handheld gold pans) and for personal recreational use only, of rocks and minerals is authorized: Provided however, that (1) collection of silver, platinum, gemstones and fossils is prohibited, and (2) collection methods which may result in disturbance of ground surface, such as the use of shovels, pickaxes, sluice boxes and dredges, are prohibited.”
What about the weather?
If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us before visiting the refuge.
Last updated: March 10, 2011