Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska.

The Innoko National Wildlife Refuge, traditional homelands of the Koyukon Athabascan people, was established by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. ANILCA established the refuge in two units totaling 4.6 million acres. The northern unit of the Refuge (also called Kaiyah Flats) is 751,000 acres; the larger southern unit is comprises 3.85 million acres.

One of the primary reasons the refuge was created was to protect one of the largest waterfowl habitat areas in interior Alaska. Innoko refuge provides a vast area of wetlands that are crucial for waterfowl nesting, resting, staging, and molting. Other special values that the refuge is noted for include habitat for avian raptor populations, as well as the natural water and fire regime that creates excellent habitat for moose. Moose hunting is very popular and subsistence fish and hunting camps dot the landscape. Marshy landscapes, meandering rivers and wet tundra abound creating ample habitats for fish and wildlife including moose, salmon, northern pike, whitefish, sheefish, furbearers and an array of shorebirds and waterfowls species.

The Innoko Wilderness Area, also designated in 1980, encompasses 1.24 million acres located south and east of the Innoko River. This congressionally-mandated area includes much of the lower Iditarod River and many lakes and ponds. This area is a true wilderness in every sense of the word. It is common to go for days without seeing or hearing signs of another human.

Nearby Activities


The Innoko Refuge is not accessible by car. Access is by means of airplanes equipped for water landings during spring, summer and fall. Due to its extremely remote and isolated location, access to the refuge by watercraft is, in most cases, not practical. Watercraft transportable by small aircraft, such as inflatable rafts and folding kayaks, can be used for transportation within the refuge. The primary means of access include privately owned aircraft, commercial guiding and outfitting services, and commercial air taxi operators. Access is via the town of McGrath, which is served by commercial airlines operating out of Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Additional Information