- Koyukuk Refuge is made up of a vast floodplain containing 14 rivers, hundreds of streams, and thousands of lakes surrounded by low hills covered by boreal forest. A striking and unusual feature is the Nogahabara Dunes, a 10,000-acre active field of wind-blown sand within the designated Koyukuk Wilderness.
Refuge habitats include large expanses of black and white spruce forests, willows, alders, and aspen. Thousands of small lakes, marshes, and streams connecting one another create magnificent aquatic and upland habitats for birds, mammals and fish. Seasonal flooding of the many rivers fertilizes and revitalizes the wetlands annually, maintaining the biological richness and diversity of the area.
These habitat conditions are particularly well suited to waterfowl which nest on the refuge in large numbers. More than 400,000 ducks and geese migrate south from the refuge each year. Moose, black and grizzly bear, wolves, lynx, otter, beaver, marten, and other furbearers are also abundant.
Three species of Pacific salmon spawn in the Koyukuk River and its tributaries. Local village residents (Athabascan Indians) are dependent on all of these resources for subsistence harvests. Recreational activities include excellent hunting (primarily moose) and fishing (pike and grayling). The area is remote and roadless, so access is strictly by boat, aircraft, or, in winter, snowmachine or dog sled.