Kobuk Valley, Alaska
Far to the North, approximately 40 km beyond the Arctic Circle in North America, there is a unique place. This is the Kobuk Valley. Although it is located in the freezing cold northwestern parts of the American state of Alaska, the valley looks like a piece of the Sahara Desert. Surrounded by glaciers, mountain ridges, thick pine forests and vast wetlands, this small northern desert looks like it has never seen even a drop of rain.
Most people are very surprised to see huge sand dunes with a height of over 25-30 meters here, in the North of Alaska! But in fact, that’s not so strange.
The sand dunes were formed very slowly as a result of the movement of the melting glaciers and the friction with the rocks below.
This beautiful and unique desert falls within the Kobuk National Park. The park and the valley are named after the river that runs through the park.
With a vast area of almost two million acres, the park is considered one of the most idyllic and tranquil places in North America.
The surrounding area is sparsely populated, and most of the residents are native. They have adapted to these harsh and unbearable living conditions and the almost total lack of contacts with modern civilization.
These people can feel the pulse of nature. They know how to survive here, because this area has always been their home.
They know that September marks the beginning of winter but also the start of hunting season, when they use to stock up on meat for the winter.
Kobuk Valley is a cold desert just like the deserts of Mongolia. Winter temperatures are low and often drop to (-40) or (-50) °C.
Summers, however, may be inexplicably warm for these latitudes. During the short summer season are possible even hot days with temperatures of about 40°C!
Of course, similar summer heat does not happen every day. Traditionally, summer temperatures reach about 29°C in July.
Kobuk National Park has a rich fauna. Rivers in the area are very rich in salmon and other species of fish.
The area is home of grizzly bears, wolves, foxes, pumas and large herds of different species of deer such as moose or caribou.
When to visit Kobuk National Park?
Since it is located beyond the Arctic Circle, the area enjoys 24 hours of sunshine during the summer months.
From 3 June to 9 July sun does not set beyond the horizon, and this is probably the best time of the year to visit this part of the world.
Indeed, sometimes summers are quite rainy, but on the other hand, if you come here during the winter months, you risk to see the beautiful sand dunes covered with thick snow.
The area is quite isolated and few roads lead here. Because of the huge distances and sparsely-populated territories, the main way to travel in Alaska is by plane.