Know Before You Go
Visiting the Steese NCA means making your own adventure. There are no established campgrounds and only two emergency trail shelters cabins in the more than one million acres of public lands comprising the Steese NCA. For those willing to explore on their own, the Steese NCA offers a unique opportunity to see a landscape little altered by humankind. However, careful planning is required for a safe trip.
Access to the Steese NCA
The Steese Highway leads northeast from Fairbanks and passes between the South and North units of the Steese NCA before ending in Circle at the Yukon River. Only a handful of primitive roads actually enter the edges of the Steese NCA, so most visitors gain access via trails or Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River, which flows through the middle of the South Unit. At Nome Creek, Faith Creek, Montana Creek/Bachelor Creek, and Porcupine Creek, roads will bring you close to the North Unit boundary. Roads following Bottom Dollar Creek and Harrison Creek enter the northern portion of the South Unit. All of these roads are unmaintained, and most are suitable only for high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles or off-highway vehicles.
Except for the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail, both winter and summer routes within the Steese NCA are unmaintained and unmarked. Restrictions on off-highway vehicles apply to some areas. (See "Off Highway Vehicles Use" on the Recreation Opportunities page). The BLM does not maintain any winter trails in the SNCA, so visitors must be prepared for challenging trail conditions that may include drifted snow, poor visibility, extreme cold, and thin ice on frozen rivers and streams.
The following U.S. Geological Survey 1:250,000 maps cover the Steese NCA:
- Charley River
The following U.S. Geological Survey inch-to-the-mile (1:63,360) maps show the SNCA in greater detail:
Circle B-4, B-5, C-3, C-4, C-5, C-6, D-3, D-4, D-5
Circle A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4
Charley River A-6
In the Steese NCA, all uses must be compatible with conserving wildlife habitat and maintaining water quality in Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River. Allowable uses include:
- canoeing and rafting on Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River
- hiking and backpacking, especially on the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail
- hunting, fishing and trapping
- Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use, subject to restrictions in some areas
- backcountry camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling
- viewing the midnight sun, wildflowers, birds, and wildlife
The following activities are prohibited in the Steese NCA:
- use of motorized equipment for mineral collection for personal use
- camping at one site for a period longer than 10 days in any calendar year
- discharging of firearms within one-quarter mile of public recreation cabins, as well as across or along roads and trails
- leaving burning or smoldering campfires unattended
- constructing permanent or semi-permanent structures, including cabins, caches, water dams or diversions without written authorization from the BLM authorized officer (subject to valid existing rights)