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The Unalakleet River flows gently from the rolling Nulato Hills across a broad expanse of tundra to the coastal village of Unalakleet on Norton Sound. Located 400 miles from Anchorage, Unalakleet has approximately 800 residents and is accessible only by plane. At its headwaters, the Unalakleet River is swift and channelized; once it reaches the valley floor it begins to meander. For most of its length, the river has a varying pool/riffle nature, which offers a diversity of boating and fishing opportunities.
The upper 81 miles of the Unalakleet River are designated a National Wild River. A designated wild river is free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with primitive shorelines and unpolluted waters. The BLM manages the Unalakleet National Wild River to provide high-quality primitive recreation opportunities, protect water quality, protect historic and archaeological values, and preserve the remarkable fisheries resources for which the river was designated.