Recreation Opportunities


Only backcountry camping is available in the Steese National Conservation Area. The two emergency trail shelters on the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail are available on a first-come, first-served basis to users of this non-motorized trail.


Popular activities in the summer include hiking and backpacking, hunting and wildlife viewing, bird-watching, watching the midnight sun, canoeing and rafting, fishing, and rock climbing. Most rock-climbing occurs on Mount Prindle, located within the Mount Prindle Research Natural Area. This area is closed to motor vehicles but can be reached on foot from Nome Creek valley in the White Mountains National Recreation Area or from Zephyr Creek, a tributary to Faith Creek.

In winter the Steese NCA provides solitude and untouched scenery to those intrepid travelers who explore it by ski, snowshoe, dog-sled, or snowmobile. Sled dog racers in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race traverse the western corner of the South Unit each February.

Off-Highway Vehicles Use

Many areas in the Steese NCA are open to off-highway vehicles (OHVs). In general, snowmobiles and OHVs that have a curb weight of 1,000 pounds or less and 50 inch width or less can be operated on most of the public lands inside the Steese NCA. The curb weight is defined by the BLM as the total weight of the vehicle unloaded with a full tank of fuel and all fluids. Please be aware that nearly all Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs), also known as Side-by-Sides, exceed the size limits for trails and cross-country travel and may only be ridden on the primitive roads within the Steese NCA (Harrison Creek - Portage Creek Road and Fryingpan Creek Road), which are also open to highway vehicles. 

The following areas are only open to snowmobile use in the winter and are closed to the summer use of OHVs: the Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River corridor, two Research Natural Areas (Mount Prindle RNA and Big Windy Hot Springs RNA), and the highlands area along the western boundary of the North Unit. Only the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail is closed year-round to motorized use. 

See the Off-Highway Vehicle Use Areas map (PDF, 1.1 MB)  for additional information about areas open to the operation of OHVs.