Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Keep It Wild.

ANWR Trips

    (i) rafting trips

    (ii) photography trips

    (iii) backpacking trips

The Refuge

Over 19 million acres, 7 million designated wilderness, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is possibly the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Mountains crawl endlessly across its breadth. The expansive tundra rolls on forever. A network of waterways, including three rivers designated Wild and Scenic Rivers navigate this place.

Caribou range through the hidden boreal forests and sprawl across the open tundra of the coastal plain. Polar bear patrol the coastal shore, chasing the Harbor seals who grow fat on the rich marine life of the continental shelf.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a wilderness for all.

All of it wild.

All of it free.

ANWR Adventures

ANWR Information


The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to 42 fish species, 37 land mammals, eight marine mammals, over 200 migratory and resident bird species.

1.5 million acre Coastal Plain are heartbeat of the Arctic Refuge. Polar bear, caribou, muskox and migratory birds find respite and sustenance on the expansive plain.

Species include polar bear, Bowhead whale, harbor seal, black and grizzly bears, wolves, coyote and both red and arctic fox. Lynx as well. Moose, caribou, muskox, Dall sheep, snowshoe hare, beaver, river otter.

Birds include snowy owl, golden eagle, Gyr and Peregrine falcon, Great Horned owl, boreal owl, snow geese, Canada goose, loons, waterfowl. Species List.


The Refuge consists of five different ecological zones:

    (i) coastal marine areas

    (ii) coastal plain tundra

    (iii) Brooks Range

    (iv) forest-tundra transition zone

    (v) boreal forest


Designated a National Wildlife Refuge in order “to preserve unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge purposes (listed under ANILCA) are:

    (i) to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity

    (ii) to fulfill the international fish and wildlife treaty obligations of the United States

    (iii) to provide the opportunity for continued subsistence uses by local residents

    (iv) to ensure water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge.

Contentious ANWR

About 40%, 8 million acres of ANWR is currently designated wilderness. In April 2015 President Obama’s administration has proposed 12.28 million acres for wildness designation in a formal letter to Congress. Congress have not acted on that, and likely won’t for some time. There are currently over thirty areas proposed for wilderness designation still awaiting congressional action. The 1964 Wilderness Act is here.

Notably, the new areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) proposed for wilderness designation will comprise 1.52 million acres of the refuge’s coastal plain, 5.85 million acres of the Brooks mountain range and 4.92 million acres of the Porcupine Plateau. The Service also recommends four rivers – the Atigun, Hulahula, Kongakut and Marsh Fork Canning – for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS).

How contentious is it? I’ve had people email me upset because I sometimes use the acronym “ANWR” instead of the full name, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Similarly folks who would like to see it opened to drilling use the acronym ANWR to avoid using the word “wildlife”, “national” and “refuge”.

I say Keep It Wild.

Learn more about ANWR

ANWR on the Blog

Polar bear resting on ice, ANWR, Alaska.

Hey Folks, Been a while since I posted a polar bear photo. I can’t wait to get back to the arctic this fall and see these amazing animals. This image is one of my favorite polar bears I’ve taken so far. Hope you like it. And, if you’re looking for a great polar bear photo […]

ANWR trips Hiker playing American Native flute on coastal plain Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

50 photos for 50 years! Dec 6, 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, or ANWR. Over 19 million acres of wild lands, the refuge is a treasure, home to thousands of creatures and features; the caribou herds, the Brooks Mountains, the broad coastal plain, migratory birds and countless other gifts to this world. Video of photos and music.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge trips ANWR Canning River Alaska.

Campsite on the Arctic Ocean, tent camping at the mouth of the Canning river on the beach of the Beaufort Sea, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, Alaska.

ANWR trips Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Canning River Alaska.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) rafting trip down the Canning River, from the Brooks Mountain Range across the coastal plain to the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean.

Canning River ANWR trips Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Alaska.

Hikers on Aufeis, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, Alaska.

ANWR trips Canning Rievr coastal plain Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Image of the month, for December, 2010. | Coastal plain, near the Canning River, Section 1002, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, Alaska.

ANWR trips polar bear Alaska.

Hey Folks, Here’s a curious young polar bear from our recent trip to the arctic. This young bear surfaced and stood in the shallow water, and shook like a dog; a 400 lb dog, but a dog nonetheless. Fortunately, the light was happening at the time, and I happened to have a camera in my […]

Canning River trips ANWR Arctic National Wildlife Refuge red foxes Alaska.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) kits, or young, playing and play-fighting, sunset, on the coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, Alaska.

ANWR polar bears playing on ice Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Alaska.

Hey Folks, A week in arctic Alaska, photographing Nanuq, the magnificent polar bear? An awesome, awesome trip. I took 3 people up earlier this month for a fantastic week, where we were so lucky to get to spend time up close and personal with polar bears; literally, dozens and dozens of polar bears. US F&WS […]

Expeditions Alaska
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