Cape Krusenstern National Monument is 650,000 acres (2,600 km2) of remote Arctic wilderness in Arctic Alaska. A coastal plain with multiple lagoons and limestone bluffs, it is a destination for challenging hikes and beautiful, undeveloped scenery.
The park is open year-round. The visitor center is at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center in Kotzebue.
Archeological investigations show evidence of more than 9,000 years of human occupation.
Arctic tundra dominated by permafrost. Lowland areas have thermokarst features including pingos, polygon ice wedges, and thaw ponds. Low vegetation covers the land, mainly in tussocks of cottongrass, with shrubby growth of willow, Labrador tea, dwarf birch, mountain alder and other species in moist tundra areas. Wetter areas in the southern part of the monument feature grasses and sedges. Upland regions are Arctic tundra, with lichen, saxifrage, willow and heather. Few trees grow, and the white spruce that do grow are confined to the southeastern corner of the monument.
Flora and fauna
Bears, caribou, muskoxen, bearded seals, salmon.
Birds from all seven continents fly here to breed in the summer. Birds in the park include eiders, bluethroats, northern wheatears, and yellow-billed loons.
Weather can be extreme. The Arctic winter stretches from October to April; average low temperatures in January are 5 °F (−15 °C), and can reach nighttime lows of −50 °F (−46 °C). Summer temperatures average around 55 °F (13 °C), and can reach 70 °F (21 °C). Since the park is above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set from June 3 to July 9, and the sun is visible for only 1-1/2 hour on the winter solstice, with long, beautiful twilight on either side of sunrise and sunset. The coast can be stormy, with winds of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h). Visitors must take care against hypothermia in the cool, damp environment.
Even in summer, snow and freezing temperatures are possible. Dress in layers, and bring warm clothing and rain gear at all times of year.
Planes can be chartered by the hour or the day, with $600-$700 being a typical price per hour. If you don't want (or don't have the skills) to take a multi-day trip in the park, you can charter a plane for a day trip, just experiencing the park from the air or landing to walk around before heading back.
In the summer it's possible to enter by boat, and in the winter by snowmobile, ski, snowshoe, or dog sled. Hiking from Bettles or Kotzebue is possible, but only for serious wilderness trekkers.
Fees and permits
No fees or permits needed for independent travelers. Organized groups require a permit.
- 1 Northwest Arctic Heritage Center, 171 Third Ave, Kotzebue, ☏ . The Northwest Arctic Heritage Center is open year round, but our hours vary by season.
- Birdwatching – in the summer, the park has 150 species of birds from all seven continents. The National Park Service offers advice on birding in Cape Krusenstern National Monument.
- Fishing requires an Alaska fishing license.
- Hiking – beach hikes are possible in the summer, and hill hikes have great views. The terrain may slow you down.
- Kayaking on the lagoons
Hunting is not permitted (except for subsistence hunting by local residents).
No facilities or campgrounds, only backcountry camping.
This park is wild and remote, with no cell service, roads, or trails. You must be self-sufficient and take responsibility for your own survival. Consider bringing a satellite phone. Be prepared with Arctic cold weather and orienteering skills.
Take precautions against bears.
A bug net or bug jacket may be worth bringing to protect you from mosquitoes and other bugs.
Follow leave no trace principles.
Alaskans have been living off this land for thousands of years. Let locals go about their activities in peace; don't interfere with their hunting, fishing, or other activities. Some parts of the park, including many areas on the coast, are private land, so steer clear of anything that looks like someone's property.