Steese NCA/Birch Creek WSR
A half day’s drive northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, the Steese National Conservation Area (NCA) offers stunning scenery, peaceful solitude and outstanding opportunities for year-round recreation. The 1.2-million-acre NCA was designated by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980 to protect the area’s special values, particularly Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River, and caribou habitat .
The NCA plays a major role in the annual life of cycle of the Fortymile and White Mountains caribou herds, offering migration corridors, summer crucial calving grounds in high alpine tundra, and winter ranges among black spruce boreal forests. A few areas provide year-round habitat for Dall sheep, an uncommon species in Interior Alaska.
Summer visitors to the NCA, backpack, hike, camp, fish, pick berries and hunt under Alaska's 'midnight sun.' Located in two units straddling the remote Steese Highway, the NCA offers primitive, remote recreation opportunities with few encounters with others. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound – raptors, upland birds, moose, fox, caribou and bears are just a few of the mammals that may be spotted while recreating along Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River, the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail, or one of the many travel routes that access the NCA. 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 the Off-Highway Vehicle page for more information. The BLM does not maintain any winter trails in the Steese NCA, 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 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.