Land by plane and walk across the largest dune field in the Arctic.


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The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes are the main attraction of Kobuk Valley National Park.

More reminiscent of the Sahara than the Arctic, these vast dunes are made of wind-blown glacial sediments that accumulated after the last Ice Age.

It’s a huge golden expanse, broad enough to get lost among the rolling ridges and see nothing but bare sand in every direction.

Tundra vegetation takes over at the margins, and a green, trackless wilderness extends in every direction.

This is one of the most remote places in the country, so it’s fitting to be also one of its wildest landscapes. The best way to reach the Great Dunes is to fly.

Bush planes can land directly on the sand, depositing passengers for an hours or days-long stay far from civilization.

Once your plane departs, it will be only you and your gear against the whims of the Arctic.

On the dunes, the weather can be dramatic, with scorching heat or freezing wind almost equally likely in the middle of summer.

You’ll need to be ready for anything; that includes ready with defense against mosquitoes and bears, but also ready with a camera for caribou and to capture the epic landscape. You can wander as far as you like on the dunes, hiking the ridges and sliding down the slopes.

You might also descend to the creeks that flow around the perimeter, and beyond to the spruce forest.

The track mapped here is not meant to be followed exactly.

It simply suggests one possible hiking route connecting some popular photo spots.

Your starting point will be wherever your pilot lands, and they know the best places.

The path you then take is completely up to you.

If you plan to camp at the dunes, you’ll want to explore sufficiently before setting up, in order to find the most ideal location. Sources: