Kotzebue

Overview

Introduction

Northeast of Nome and above the Arctic Circle, Kotzebue, Alaska, is fun to visit during the summer because, for one month (3 June-9 July), the sun never sets. It's also the largest Alaska Native community in the state. You can see it on a long day trip from Anchorage or Fairbanks, but it's better to stay overnight (especially when the night is filled with daylight).

Visit the NANA (Northwest Arctic Native Association) Museum of the Arctic, which depicts the Inuit way of life, and shop for jade at Jade Mountain Products. You can also visit the tundra and, if you're there during winter, you may see polar bears. Tour Arctic, an Alaska Native-owned business, offers tours of the area that emphasize Alaska Native heritage and history.

Kotzebue is also the gateway to some of the world's most unusual—and most remote—natural preserves. At Kobuk Valley National Park—where tundra meets boreal forest—you'll find the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. It's a stretch of landscape that looks wildly out of place; imagine the Sahara in Alaska. It's a good place to see grizzlies and caribou. At Noatak National Preserve, a gentle 425-mi-/684-km-long river flows through the Grand Canyon of the Noatak. It's a great place to see wildflowers and to watch wildlife.

The desolate gravel beachscape at Cape Krusenstern National Monument has been a hunting and fishing spot for at least five millennia: The area is rich in human history and marine-mammal life. Kotzebue is also near the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, the "bridge" between Asia and North America during the Ice Age.

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