Region 5 North: Western Arctic
Region 5 (north) describes the northwestern coast of Alaska south to the border of GMU 18, and the western Arctic, over to the approximate center of the north coast area. It includes roughly half of the Brooks Range and the entire Seward Peninsula. Much of the land mass is covered in tundra, however there are some forests of spindly black spruce, willow, and alder in the southernmost areas. Though there are some larger villages in the area such as Nome, Kotzebue, and others, recreational access is generally limited to light commercial aircraft.
Region 5 (north) contains cabins that are available for use by the general public. Most require advance reservations and user fees are usually charged by the night. Amenities are spartan; expect to find an outhouse, bunks with no bedding or mattresses, no food, no dishes or cookstove, and no power or running water. Most have wood-fired or oil-fired stoves for heat. See our Public-Use Cabins page for locations, recommended gear, reservation and contact information.
Boating in Region 5 (north)
The Western Arctic encompasses a large section of the Brooks Range, through which flow numerous rivers of interest to hunters, fishermen and recreational rafters and canoeists. The coastline is mostly very remote and untravelled.
Saltwater recreational opportunities in Region 5 are limited by exposed coastlines, shallow, muddy bays, and nearly constant wind. Access is the single greatest limiting factor, however boaters who have connections in local villages on the coast may find opportunities to fish for halibut and cod, or perhaps drop a pot for king crab. A popular winter activity near some villages is king crabbing through the sea ice. Typically a shelter is erected over a large hole, through which the king crab pot is lowered. Pots are left to soak for a few hours before pulling, and because of the extreme low temperatures in winter, it is sometimes necessary to chop the ice out of the hole before the pot can be raised.
The Western Arctic contains a number of remote rivers, together with a handful that can be accessed directly from villages either by walking, or via ATV or highway vehicle off the limited road system. But the majority of the river systems in this area can only be accessed by Bush aircraft, an expensive method that is beyond the means of some people. Some river systems in this area flow thorough private lands, and permission must be obtained from the land manager before pursuing recreational opportunities in these areas. The burden of figuring out who the private land owners are falls to the trespasser, and most private lands are neither fenced or posted.
Alatna River | Awuna River | Canning River | Ivishak River | John River | Colville River|Kobuk River | Nigu Etivluk rivers | Noatak River | Porcupine River| Sagavanirktok River |Salmon River (Kobuk) | Selawik River | Sheenjek River| Squirrel River| Unalakleet River |Utukok River
Fishing in the Western Arctic
Fishing opportunities here are as diverse as anywhere in the state, with lake trout, Arctic char, grayling, and salmon available. The area doesn't see many king (chinook) salmon, but populations of silvers and chum salmon are generally good. It's not uncommon to see drying racks filled with hundreds of salmon being put up during the summer; winter fuel for dog teams and their owners alike. The area also has runs of "icconu", or sheefish, sometimes referred to as "the tarpon of the north" for their appearance and acrobatic action when hooked.
Hunting in the Western Arctic
The state of Alaska is divided into 26 Game Management Units (GMU), some of which are divided further into sub-units. Each of these units or sub-units may contain different species, different seasons, and different legal requirements for hunting. GMUs are aggregated into regional groupings, and each of these regions operate under the oversight of a team of ADFG employees, including area biologists who are responsible for game management in their assigned portions of the region. There are five regions in the state of Alaska. Outdoors Directory uses these regions to divide the state into smaller pieces, for the sake of organization. When you plan your Alaska hunt, you need to know both the GMU in which you will be hunting, and the region. In this way you can ensure you are following the correct regulations for the area, and you know which regional biologist to contact for details about that area. CLICK HERE to locate the contact information for the biologists responsible for your area of interest.
Region 5 contains GMUs 18, 22, 23 & 26(A).
Region 5 offers great hunting opportunities for moose, caribou, brown / grizzly bear, and wolf. There are limited huntable populations of Dall sheep, black bear, and muskoxen. Sheep and muskox are offered on a drawing permit basis, with the drawings taking place in the winter for hunts occurring the following spring and fall.
Want to learn how to hunt the species that inhabit Region 5? Visit our species pages, which provide information on species biology, distribution, and how to hunt the various species available in this region. A complete resource list on each species is also provided.
ADF&G Region 5 (north) Information
ADF&G Management and Harvest Reports, a vital hunt-planning tool, can be found AT THIS LINK. Reports are listed in sequential order by species. For detailed research into population trends, review several reports. For more recent data contact the area biologist.
The biologists for Region 5 are located in the office in Nome. The number there is 1 (907) 443-2271.
Other Activities in the Western Arctic