Official State of Alaska Vacation and Travel Information


Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge  

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

Bordered by the Alaska Highway on the north and Canada on the east, Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge consists of dynamic landscape of forests, wetlands, tundra, lakes, glacial rivers and foothills that rise to the snowy peaks of the Alaska Range. The 730,000-acre refuge is found in the upper Tanana River valley and is sometimes called the 'Tetlin Passage' because it serves as a major migratory route for birds traveling to and from Canada, the Lower 48 and both Central and South America. While many of the birds move on to other breeding grounds, about 117 species remain in Tetlin to nest.

Tetlin Refuge also supports a variety of large mammals. Dall sheep dot the higher slopes while moose feed on the tender new growth that springs up in the wake of frequent lightning caused fires. Wolves, grizzly and black bears and members of three different caribou herds range over the refuge. Tetlin waters support whitefish, Arctic grayling, northern pike and burbot.

Thanks to its proximity to the Alaska Highway - the refuge boundary is adjacent to the south side of the highway for almost 65 miles - Tetlin offers a wide range of activities and facilities, including hiking, birding, camping, fishing and hunting. Birding is best in spring and fall and easily done from pullouts along the Alaska Highway that overlook wetlands, ponds and lakes.

One of the best ways to explore Tetlin Refuge is by canoe. Lakes at both of the refuge's campgrounds offer easy paddling while others paddle Desper and Scottie Creeks. The clear, slow moving streams are accessed at Mile 1223 and Mile 1225 of the Alaska Highway and can be a one day outing to overnight trips of up to 17 miles. Longer canoeing trips are possible on the Chisana River as are opportunities for backpacking.

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