Birders are attracted to Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge as the preserve serves as a major migratory route for birds traveling to and from Canada, the Lower 48 and both Central and South America. While many of the birds move on to other breeding grounds, about 117 species remain in Tetlin to nest. Most birders arrive in spring and fall and and look for species from pullouts along the Alaska Highway that overlook wetlands, ponds and lakes.
One of the best ways to explore Tetlin Refuge is by canoe. Lakes at both of the refuge's campgrounds offer easy paddling while others paddle Desper and Scottie Creeks. The clear, slow moving streams are accessed at Mile 1223 and Mile 1225 of the with Alaska Highway access and can be the destination of day or overnight trips of up to 17 miles.
Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge has three public-use cabins that can be rented for overnight stays. Wellesley Lake and Jatahmund Lake cabins are accessible only by float plane. Nabesna River cabin is accessible by boat on the Nabesna River. The public-use cabins are reserved in advance by mail or phone through the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters (907-883-5312; P. O. Box 779 MS 529, Tok AK 99780).
There is good fishing in the Northway area and Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge with many rivers and lakes supporting whitefish, Arctic grayling, northern pike and burbot.
Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge's most popular stop is the Tetlin Refuge Visitor Center at Mile 1229 of the Alaska Highway. Built in 1989 in the style of a log trapper's cabin, complete with a sod roof, the center is open during the summer and features wildlife exhibits, visitor information, an Alaska Geographic bookstore, and a large observation deck with spotting scopes.