Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge
Viewing Information

Fall colors at Tetlin refuge.
Horned grebe.

The glacial Nabesna and Chisana Rivers merge to form the mighty Tanana River within the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. These expansive flat river basins lead to the foothills of the Nutzotin and Mentasta Moutains, providing a broad range of wildlife habitat.

Wildlife Viewing and Safety Tips

In the spring and fall, the refuge comes alive with the calls of migrating birds, among them sandhill cranes, trumpeter and tundra swans, and white-fronted and Canada geese. The area has one of the highest densities of nesting waterfowl in Alaska; sometimes as many as 65,000 ducklings fledge from these lakes. Visitors may also see pacific loons, horned grebes, yellow-rumped warblers, and common snipe. During the winter, caribou wander near the highway. Black and grizzly bears, moose, muskrats, and wolves reside within the refuge borders.

The best time to see sandhill cranes is in mid-September; look for trumpeter and tundra swans in early October. June and July are the peak months for spotted sandpipers and lesser yellowlegs. Lakeview and Deadman Lake offer camping sites. Deadman Lake also features a nature trail, an observation deck, and a fishing pier. Beginning at Midway Lake, seven pullouts along the highway each have an interpretive display. Two fly-in cabins on lakes may be rented. The refuge provides a diverse environmental education program, including a variety of natural history exhibits at the visitors’ center.

Accessible Facilities

The Tok Visitor Center restrooms are wheelchair-accessible and staff can assist with other facilities there. At Deadman Lake, the ¼ mile long Taiga Trail boardwalk and the dock are wheelchair accessible. Deadman, Lakeview and Seaton Roadhouse campsites have restrooms that are either ground level or have ramps, and picnic tables are all accessible.


The Alaska Highway marks the northern boundary of the refuge. Access for small boats is available at Desper Creek and the Chisana River bridge. Deadman Lake has a boat ramp. Floatplanes are available for charter in Tok.

Other Resources

USFWS Visitor Center (Tok): (907) 883-5312