Category: Blogging

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center

Last summer marked the culmination of a multi-year project by three federal agencies to replace the Coldfoot Interagency Visitor Center with a larger, more modern facility. The new Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, a 6,500-square-foot building, is designed to handle the increasing number of tourists traveling Alaska’s Dalton Highway, the only road connecting Alaska’s interior with the Arctic coast. When completed, the center will have exhibits and programs to engage visitors in discovering the special features of the Arctic landscape, its history and resources.

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Work was recently completed on the building, located near the midpoint of the Dalton Highway in the village of Coldfoot, 260 miles north of Fairbanks. BLM and its cooperating agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, opened the facility on July 18.

Although the permanent exhibits weren’t installed until the fall, the staff at the old visitor center moved their operation into the new space, where they offered a fully functional information counter, trip-planning area, temporary exhibits, and bookstore, as well as nightly programs in the auditorium.

Lenore Heppler, project manager for the design and construction of the new Visitor Center, had firsthand experience with the previous facility’s cramped quarters. She is excited about the expanded capabilities the new center will bring.

“The old center just wasn’t big enough, and we sometimes had to turn people away.” Heppler says. “Now we’ll have a new facility that can handle the big crowds when tour buses and other large groups come through. We’ll also have modern plumbing, which I’m sure our visitors will appreciate!”

One of the project’s challenges was designing a building that could ‘go cold.’ In other words, the building will remain completely unheated during Coldfoot’s long winters. This design will save the visitor center’s funding agencies the considerable expense of heating, staffing, and maintaining the remote facility during the winter months, when very few visitors pass through Coldfoot.

But it also meant designing a building interior that could survive some of the coldest temperatures in North America. The United States’ lowest temperature on record, -80 degrees Fahrenheit, was measured in 1971 at Prospect Creek, 40 miles south of Coldfoot.

“You have to assume that everything is going to move, to expand and contract with the temperature changes,” says Rodd Moretz, BLM’s design engineer for the project. “The foundation, the utilities, the plumbing – it’s all designed with that in mind.”

The Dalton Highway stretches across northern Alaska from Livengood (84 miles north of Fairbanks) to Deadhorse and the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay. This narrow, gravel highway travels through rolling, forested hills, across the Yukon River and Arctic Circle, over the rugged Brooks Range, and down the long slope to the Arctic Ocean. Along most of its length, youll see no restaurants, no gift shops, no service stations. Instead, youll see forest and tundra, from horizon to horizon, and a double ribbon of road and pipe. Step off the road, climb over a hill, and you are in wilderness.Coldfoot is located about halfway between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay at mile 175 on the Dalton Highway (approximately 260 miles north of Fairbanks). Staff at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, formerly the Coldfoot Interagency Visitor Center, are available throughout the summer to answer questions, provide information on current road conditions and wildlife sightings, and help visitors prepare and participate safely in a variety of recreational activities on surrounding public lands. Visitors may also learn more about the Arctic and what lies beyond the highway by attending interpretive slide programs featured each evening, or by viewing exhibits on topics ranging from the Coldfoot goldrush days of the early 1900s to the amazing adaptations of Arctic plants and animals. There’s a variety of free brochures with detailed information on recreation, history, and nearby lands. The non-profit Alaska Natural History Association operates a small bookstore in the visitor center.

The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center is open from Memorial Day (late May) to Labor Day (early September) from 10 am  10 pm, seven days/week. Staff are available year round during normal business hours to answer questions at the following locations:

BLM Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Dalton BLM Unit
Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge

Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site – Valdez

Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site features a short trail leading right to the blue ice of the glacier. High alpine tundra and many hanging glaciers make this an excellent area for photographers. Facilities include a interpretive viewing shelter, glacier viewing areas, and accessible trails.

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

At the southern portal to Alaska and featuring Southeast Alaska, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is one of four Alaska Public Land Information Centers.


    • Interpretive Exhibits
    • Classrooms
  • Bookstore
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May 6 – Sept 27 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday – Saturday
Sept 28 – May 5 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday – Saturday


Southeast Alaska Discovery Center Official Site

About the Center

Where Education is an Adventure

The Murie Science and Learning Center is a state-of-the-art education and research center with innovative hands-on programs for students, teachers, Alaskans, and visitors. Located in the frontcountry of Denali National Park, it celebrates the vast ecosystems and vibrant cultures of America’s eight northernmost national parks:

Denali National Park & Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Cape Krusenstern National Monument

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Kobuk Valley National Park

Noatak National Preserve

Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

The grand opening of the Murie Science and Learning Center is scheduled for August 2004. The Center’s interactive public exhibits and displays, two classrooms, and wireless research bus are interwoven using the latest technology. Multi-day programs are based out of the Center’s remote Field Camp, located 35 miles inside the Park at Igloo Canyon. Surrounded by one of the finest living laboratories in the world – spectacular taiga forests, glacier-clad mountains, wide-open tundra, and thriving wildlife populations – this is Alaska education at its finest.

A Collaborative Partnership

The Murie Science and Learning Center is a unique partnership among Alaska’s eight northernmost national parks, the Alaska Natural History Association and its education arm, the Denali Institute, the University of Alaska, and the Denali Borough School District

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

The ANHA branch is located within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Bethel, Alaska. Bethel is a large ?town? forty miles from the Bering Sea on the Kuskokwim River. According to the 2002 census Bethel has approximately 6,000 residents. Sixty per cent of the residents are Yup?ik Eskimo who rely on hunting and fishing for up to eighty percent of their food.

Being a remote site, the Visitor Center and Bookstore does not receive many tourists as customers. Most of the customers are residents of Bethel and surrounding villages. The bookstore is the only source for the full range of Refuge and tundra related wildlife books and gifts.

Year round hours: M-F 8:30-4:30, Sat 1-4pm

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve

Branch is located in the Eagle Visitor Center of Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. The preserve encompasses over 2.5 million acres and includes the Charley River, a wild and scenic, premier whitewater wilderness river. The 1 million acre Charley River is the only complete watershed under federal management and contains a dense nesting population of the once endangered American Peregrine Falcon. The branch location allows visitors the opportunity to purchase items prior to entering the preserve and provides informative materials on the area.

Charley Rivers National Preserve

Tongass National Forest Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

Within the nation’s largest forest, the 16.9 million acre Tongass, lies the Mendenhall Glacier and its surrounding recreation area. Mendenhall Glacier is one of 38 major glaciers flowing from the 5000 square mile expanse of snow, ice and rock of the Juneau Icefield. Located just 13 paved miles from Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, easy access to the glacier attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year as well as local residents.

Glacier visitors come to enjoy the lush scenery of the temperate rainforest and stand in awe of the power of the glacier as a mover and changer of the landscape. . People are also in awe when they witness the amazing trading results of the trading robots. The Crypto CFD trader software is one such system that is powered by artificial intelligence to enable the timely execution of trades in crypto currencies. It was founded by Lenny Hyde,an online crypto currency trading expert. During spring and fall migration, the area is a birders’ paradise. In late summer and fall Steep Creek hosts spawning runs of sockeye and coho salmon and all the creatures that come to feast and benefit from the salmon circle of life. At various times of the year creatures large and small can be seen sharing the area. From red squirrels, porcupines and beaver to mountain goats, black and brown bears wildlife also enjoys the habitat provided by the receding glacier. Hikers, runners, bikers and skiiers benefit from the maintained network of surrounding trails, while Mendenhall Lake provides a venue for kayaks and canoes and snow and ice sports in winter. Some Juneau residents even venture into pools of the glacier lake for a bracing swim.

Welcome to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, the information and education focal point for the area. Besides the Alaska Natural History Association Bookstore, the Visitor Center features nearly forty exhibits, an observation area with scopes, an eleven minute documentary film in the auditorium, elevator access, public telephones and restrooms. Four hiking trails of varying difficulty head from the immediate area and guided hikes are offered daily at 10 and 2 in the summer. Public restrooms are also available at the parking level as well as a covered viewing area with salmon and beaver cam, a salmon spawning viewing platform, and various interpretive displays around the grounds. Canoes and kayaks may be launched from this site, but are not available for rental here. In winter the center features kids’ day programs on Saturday, Friday night fireside chats and special events as well as sledding and cross country skiing during snow season.

Mendenhall Visitor Center Hours
Winter Hours
10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thurs-Sun

Mendenall Visitor Center Website
Tongass National Forest Website

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a composite of ecosystems representative of many regions of Alaska. The spectacular scenery stretches from the shores of Cook Inlet, across the Chigmit Mountains, to the tundra covered hills of the western interior. The Chigmits, where the Alaska and Aleutian Ranges meet, are an awesome, jagged array of mountains and glaciers which include two active volcanoes, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna.

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Lake Clark, 40 miles long, and many other lakes and rivers within the park are critical salmon habitat to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, one of the largest sockeye salmon fishing grounds in the world. Numerous lake and river systems in the park and preserve offer excellent fishing and wildlife viewing.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Kenai Fjords National Park

Sweeping from rocky coastline to glacier-crowned peaks, Kenai Fjords National Park encompasses 607,805 acres of unspoiled wilderness on the southeast coast of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The park is capped by the Harding Icefield, a relic from past ice-ages and the largest icefield entirely within U.S. borders.

Visitors witness a landscape continuously shaped by glaciers, earthquakes, and storms. Orcas, otters, puffins, bear, moose and mountain goats are just a few of the numerous animals that make their home in this ever-changing place where mountains, ice and ocean meet.

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The Park offers a range of opportunities for visitors, students and scientists to explore, study and enjoy this special piece of our nation?s natural and cultural heritage.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Independence Mine State Historical Park

Though most Alaskans recognize that gold played an important part in Alaska’s history, they normally think first of Nome, Fairbanks, or the Iditarod country. But even before a quarter-of-a-million gold seekers began their stampede into those famous areas, gold was discovered just southeast of Anchorage in 1886. From there prospectors spread into the Susitna and Matanuska river basins, testing the creeks in the nearby mountains.

They found hard rock (lode) gold scattered in quartz veins throughout the granite in the Talkeetna Mountains. These veins were created by hydrothermal action that filled fractures in the rock. Erosion loosened flakes of gold, and flowing water eventually washed the gold-bearing gravel into a stream. Throughout the history of gold mining, placer mining has preceded lode mining, and this area was no exception. The rough-textured gold found in the bottom of pans and sluice boxes hinted at something more: a nearby source, or mother lode.

Robert Lee Hatcher discovered and staked the first lode gold claim in the Willow Creek Valley in September 1906, and others soon followed. But lode mining was expensive for an individual operator; it required elaborate tunnels and heavy equipment, so companies merged to pool resources and reduce expenses.

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What is now called Independence Mine was once two mines: The Alaska Free Gold (Martin) Mine on Skyscraper Mountain, and Independence Mine on Granite Mountain. In 1938 the two were bought together under one company, the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company (APC). With a block of 83 mining claims, APC became the largest producer in the Willow Creek Mining District. The claims covered more than 1,350 acres and included 27 structures. In its peak year, 1941, APC employed 204 men, blasted nearly a dozen miles of tunnels, and produced 34,416 ounces of gold worth $1,204,560; today $17,208,000. Twenty-two families lived in nearby Boomtown, with eight children attending the Territorial School in the new bunkhouse.

By 1942, the United States had entered World War II, and the War Production Board designated gold mining as nonessential to the war effort. Gold mining throughout the United States came to a halt, but Independence Mine continued to operate because of the presence of sheelite. Sheelite occurs in some of the quartz veins along with gold, and was a source of tungsten, a strategic metal. But because Independence Mine’s scheelite production was low, the exemption was short-lived. In 1943, Independence Mine was ordered to close.

The wartime ban was lifted in 1946, but gold mining was slow to recover. After the war, gold could be sold only to the U.S. government at a fixed rate of $35 per ounce. Postwar inflation raged, and gold mining became an unprofitable venture. Finally, in January of 1951, after mining nearly 6 million dollars’ worth of gold, Independence Mine was closed by APC, and a chapter of Alaska’s gold mining history came to an end. In 1974, Independence Mine was entered into the National Register of Historic Places, a list of cultural resources significant to American history. In the late 1970’s, 271 acres of land were donated to the Alaska Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation for establishment of Independence Mine State Historical Park. On January 16, 1980, title to the acreage was transferred to the State of Alaska.

Independence Mine Official Site