Colville River

Falcons, Fish, and Fossils

At a Glance:

  • 2.44 million acres
  • Southeastern Reserve
  • Ideal nesting sites for birds of prey (especially the peregrine falcon)
  • Large fossil deposits
  • Freshwater fish habitat
  • Highest wolf density in the state
  • Spotted seal molting and pupping grounds

The Colville River Special area is the eastern boundary of the Western Arctic. The largest river in Alaska’s Arctic, the waters flow northwards towards the Arctic Ocean. The river carves steep bluffs along its route, and the bluffs provide important nesting sites for birds of prey, like the peregrine falcon, gyrfalcon, golden eagle, and rough-legged hawk, as well as over 70 other types of birds.


Near the banks of the river, wolves roam in packs in some of the highest densities found in the state. Over twenty species of fish swim the waters of the Coleville, and at the river’s mouth spotted seals can enter the delta during pupping or molting season.

Another surprise in the Western Arctic is that the rocks and bluffs can expose some or the richest and vast collections of fossils in the world, including those of the Cretaceous dinosaurs.

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