This preserve contains the land bridge that once connected Asia with North America over 13,000 years ago.
Located on the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve protects a small remnant of the 1,000-mile-wide grassland that connected Asia and North America during the last Ice Age. The majority of this land bridge, once thousands of miles wide, now lies beneath the waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas.
Things to Do
There are no roads into Bering Land Bridge, so travel opportunities can be limited. The main hub for access to the preserve is Nome, which is 70 miles away. The most common access is by snowmobile, small airplane, boat, or on foot. There are 5 shelter cabins, some left by gold miners, in the preserve that are still used today. Other popular activities include wildlife viewing, hiking, and birding.
Visitors can also revel in a day spent at Serpentine Hot Springs, where they can spend the day hiking among the huge granite tors which encircle the area and then soak in the hot springs. The hot springs area includes a bathhouse with a soaking tub and changing rooms, a bunkhouse, and an outhouse. Most visitors to the hot springs arrive by small bush plane from Nome or Kotzebue. The hot springs are also accessibly by hiking and biking 30 miles or snowmobiling 100 miles from Nome.
Several adventure tour companies offer multi-day hiking and backpacking trips that include a visit to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, and flightseeing and air charter services from Nome and Kotzebue offer scenic flights and drop-offs into the preserve.
The Seward Peninsula is the crossroads of the Asiatic-North American flyway, providing ample opportunity to spot more than 100 species of migratory birds as well as hawks and eagles. Brown bear, caribou, musk ox, moose, Arctic fox, and wolverine also take up residence in the preserve. Along the coast, visitors can spot bearded, hair, and ribbon seals, walrus, and humpback, fin, and bowhead whales.
Encompassing 2.7 million acres of tundra, mountains, lakes, and seashores, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve has a rich diversity of offerings for those wishing to experience the raw, wild nature of Alaska's far northwestern ecosystems. Its western boundary lies 42 miles from the Bering Strait and the fishing boundary between the United States and Russia.
Only 70 miles from the Siberian mainland, the preserve ranges from the wet-tundra flatlands along the coast to the rolling, treeless uplands and the Bendeleben Mountains in the central section of the peninsula. In summertime, the tundra is vibrant with color and plant life, home to over 300 species of vascular plants, including wildflowers, berries, small trees, and shrubs. There are also several hundred more mosses, fungi, and lichens that survive year-round.
This wilderness preserve sprawls across the northern Seward Peninsula and was named for the land link that connected Alaska and Asia during the last Ice Age, when sea levels were about 300 feet lower than today. Most archaeologists agree that it was across this Bering Land Bridge, also called Beringia, that humans first passed from Asia to populate the Americas some 10,000 years ago. Plants, animals, and people followed herds of large mammals (many of them now extinct) to hunt for food and shelter across Beringia until the bridge flooded.
Considering the depth of its historical relevance and natural diversity, the preserve was established as a National Preserve on December 2, 1980. This designation enables the land to be federally protected, but also utilized for public hunting, gathering, trapping, fishing, and subsistence use.
Facilities and Camping
The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve Headquarters and Interpretive Center is located in Nome and has exhibits on the preserve and Beringia, an interactive educational program, and films. The preserve and surrounding areas include Alaska Native villages that offer opportunities to observe traditional subsistence lifestyles and historic reindeer herding. Serpentine Hot Springs has a bathhouse and bunkhouse maintained by the National Park Service. There are no roads or designated camping areas in the preserve. Backcountry camping and hiking are permitted.
Access to the preserve is from Nome and Kotzebue, which are served by commercial airlines. The preserve is 70 miles north of Nome but there are no roads that lead into it. Small air taxi planes and small boats drop off visitors in the backcountry, or visitors can travel by skis, snowmobile, or dog sled in winter. The preserve is also accessible by biking or hiking from the road system outside of Nome or from the village of Deering.
For more information, visit the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve website.