Scenic rivers and mountains decorate the backdrop of this protected habitat, home to 48 species of land and marine mammals and 201 species of birds.
Protecting important seabird nesting sites and major salmon spawning rivers, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge extends over 4.7 million acres - an area the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined - from the cold waters of Bristol Bay to the treeless tundra uplands of the Ahklun Mountains in Southwest Alaska. Almost half of these lands - the northern 2.3 million acres - are designated as the Togiak Wilderness Area, the second largest contiguous Wilderness Area within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Things to Do
The majority of visitors arrive at Togiak National Wildlife Refuge during the summer for guided and non-guided float trips on refuge rivers, focusing on fishing and hunting. The Togiak Refuge’s rivers are prime habitat for all five species of Pacific salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, and Arctic char.
Other activities in the refuge include flightseeing, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, birding, photography, and wildlife viewing. Cape Peirce is a popular viewpoint located on the far western edge of Bristol Bay, where visitors have the opportunity to see Pacific walrus, spotted and harbor seals, and a variety of nesting seabirds, including horned and tufted puffins and common murres.
The refuge's striking landscapes are complemented by a wide variety of wildlife. Togiak National Wildlife Refuge is home to moose, brown bears, wolverines, wolves, and many smaller mammals. The Nushagak Peninsula, in the southeastern portion of Togiak Refuge, was the site of a successful 1988 caribou reintroduction.
Along the 600 miles of coastline, seals, sea lions, walrus, and whales can be spotted at various times throughout the year. Cape Peirce, on the southwestern tip of the refuge, is one of only two regularly used land-based haul-outs for Pacific walrus in North America, with up to 12,000 male walrus hauling out here at one time. At least 201 species of migratory and resident birds flock to the refuge for feeding, staging, and nesting, including seabirds, waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds, and raptors.
The rugged Ahklun and Wood River Mountains lie partly within the refuge, which also includes drainages for the Kanektok, Goodnews, and Togiak Rivers. These pristine, free-flowing rivers offer scenic views and outstanding recreation opportunities while providing important subsistence salmon fisheries. The rivers contribute a large part of Togiak's production of nearly three million Chinook, sockeye, chum, pink, and Coho salmon annually - the primary subsistence resource for residents of seven local villages.
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a wide variety of landscapes including the Akutan Mountains, tundra, sea cliffs, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and marshy lowlands.
Archaeological sites found within the refuge indicate that the area has been occupied by Alaska Native peoples for over 4,000 years. Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the refuge was expanded from 265,000 acres to its present-day 4.7 million acres in 1980.
Facilities and Camping
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge has no roads, trails, campgrounds, or visitor services. Backcountry camping is permitted. The refuge headquarters is located in Dillingham.
Primary access to the refuge is by chartered aircraft or boat out of the communities of Dillingham, Bethel, and King Salmon. All three communities are accessible by daily air service from Anchorage.
For more information, visit the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge website.