- Nowitna is about 200 miles west of Fairbanks in the central Yukon River Valley. Lying in a basin surrounded by low hills, the principal terrain is forested lowlands, lakes, marshes, and streams. A 223-mile segment of the Nowitna River - a designated Wild River - flows through the refuge.
Northern pike and sheefish are abundant in this magnificent river as are several salmon species. However, the refuge was established because of its importance as a nesting area for geese, ducks, and other waterbirds. The wetlands and other lowland habitats also support abundant populations of moose, wolves, black and grizzly bears, and furbearers.
The area is roadless and remote, making access difficult and costly, but some recreational visitors reach the refuge by aircraft or boat each year to hunt (mainly moose), fish, float rivers, sightsee, photograph, and otherwise enjoy the magnificent area.
Residents of several nearby villages use the refuge regularly to harvest wildlife, fish, and plant products for subsistence purposes. There is extensive gold mining activity in the upper Nowitna drainage outside the refuge.