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Visiting the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot should be on your bucket list if you plan a trip to harsh Arctic Alaskan regions. It’s a gateway to the Brooks Range. If you plan an expedition to the most remote and wildest Alaska national parks, the Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, stop in this Visitor Center. We give you tips on what to expect and what to do there.

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Arctic Interagency Visitor Center – Our Experiences

During our trip via the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay, we visited the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center several times. It is the prettiest and most modern building in Coldfoot. And one of the most exciting activities to do in Coldfoot is to visit this place. We share insights about the facility, its services, exhibitions, summer programs, trails, and staff.

Details about the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center

The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center was opened in 2004. It’s important to note that this remote visitor center is a partnership between three federal agencies that manage public lands in northern Alaska: the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, a nonprofit cooperating partner, the Alaska Geographic Association, operates a bookstore at the center.

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
entrance to Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot

Address and Driving Directions

The Visitor Center is located on the Milepost of 175 of Dalton Highway in Coldfoot. You have 254 miles of gravel Haul Road from Fairbanks to the Visitors Center. Depending on weather conditions, it is at least 6 – 8 hours without stopping. And along the way, you have exciting stops like the Arctic Circle. Before you hit the road, check out our tips on getting your car ready for the Dalton Highway and where to stay overnight on the Dalton route.

The visitor center entrance is located on the west side of Dalton Highway (on the left as you drive north) opposite the entrance to the Coldfoot Truck Stop and Coldfoot Trucker’s Cafe.

Opening Hours

The Visitor Center is open from the second half of May (May 27 in the 2023 season) to mid-September, from 12 pm to 9 pm.
Summer Phone number: 907-678-5209 or 678-2015

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Agnes in Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot


There is a large parking lot in front of the entrance to the building. There aren’t many tourists in this area, so you can park even a camper without any problems. The entrance to the building is wide, and there are ramps for wheelchairs. The restrooms are also accessible, and they’re large and spacious. Around the building and inside, there are benches where you can sit and relax. There is also a water bottle refill station. There is a possibility to buy/rent bear canisters. At the information kiosk, you can get information about the weather, hiking trails in the area, tips for trips to more remote areas, and maps. There is also a well-stocked bookstore with maps and books about the Arctic region, wildlife, and history of the area. There are also some gifts in the bookstore.

What Services You Will Find in this Visitor Center

  • Exhibits and films
  • Interpretive presentations and programs
  • Walking trails
  • Trip planning assistance, maps, and brochures
  • Information on Dalton Highway road conditions and facilities
  • Educational programs
  • Hunting and fishing information
  • Backcountry orientation and bear barrel loans
  • Backcountry registration for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

All events are open to the public and free. 

exhibits in Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
exhibits in Arctic Interagency Visitor Center

Our Impressions

The building

Above all, we were delighted with the building itself, its architecture, and the beautifully and spaciously designed interior. Great, high-quality exhibits, maps, and photos depicting the Arctic. The spacious theater room shows films about the Arctic, Brooks Range, and the human and natural history of the region.

trails in Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Agnes in Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot

Nightly Interpretive Talks

In the evenings, staff prepares lectures called “nightly interpretive talks.” They usually start at 8 pm. We participated in such an evening prelection on the subject of bear species occurring in this far north, and the level of presentation was the highest. Topics range from the geology of the Arctic region to bear safety and wildlife species to the history of the “Haul Road.” We have often watched bears in Alaska, whether in Katmai National Park or Lake Clark National Park, and we thought we knew a lot about them. During the lecture, however, it turned out that we still lacked a lot of knowledge. We learned many differences between the bear species found in Alaska. The information about polar bears impressed us the most. We dream of seeing polar bears in their natural habitat, and they are in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So this place is on our bucket list. We also learned about unique bears in Alaska and Canada: Kermode Bear, Glacier Bear, and Pizzly Bear.

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center nightly interpretive talks

Weather Forecast

In the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, you can also check the current weather forecasts for the region. This is important, especially if you plan to visit the Gates of the Arctic National Park or Kobuk Valley. We checked the weather forecast for our scenic flight over the Brooks Range, which we had planned with Coyote Air from Coldfoot Airport.

The staff was very kind and well-informed about organizing tours and expeditions in the region. So it’s worth talking to them if you plan to visit the hardest-to-reach and least-visited US national parks: Kobuk Valley and the Gates of the Arctic.

Walking Trails around Arctic Interagency Visitor Center

  • Pipeline Trail (about 1/3 mile, 15 minutes). It’s a short walk to an observation deck with interpretive panels about the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. You will find out when the pipeline was built and its importance to the economy.
  • Dettmers Nature Trail (approx. ½ mile, 15-20 minutes). Enjoy the boreal forest on this trail named in honor of Ron Dettmers, a retired Wisconsin math professor who volunteered at the visitor center in 2006. Also, visit the historic Coldfoot Cemetery and read about the inhabitants of the original town of Slate Creek.
  • Mining Exhibit (an extension of the Dettmers Nature Trail): Here, you’ll learn about the lives of early 20th-century gold miners by viewing a replica of a miner’s cabin. A great idea is also to visit the nearby town of Wiesman, which also has a rich gold rush era history. It’s located 15 miles north of the Visitor Center.
  • Coldfoot Camp Connector (about 1/3 mile one-way, 15 minutes). Instead of walking over a dusty road, you can walk through the boreal forest to reach Coldfoot Camp on the other side of the highway.
Chris on hiking trails in arctic interagency visitor center
Coldfoot Cementary

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center – Final Thoughts

If you’re dreaming of an expedition (whether kayaking or backpacking) to Brooks Range areas, such as the Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, or the Arctic Wildlife National Refuge, it’s worth contacting the center to verify your information. Inquire about current weather conditions or threats in the region. Experts and enthusiasts working on-site will be happy to provide information. The knowledgeable staff tells you about the region’s history, natural environment, and recreation opportunities in the Brooks Range area.

Agnes and Chris on hiking trails in Coldfoot Alaska

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