The Sand Dunes cover about 30 square miles, they are easily the most visited part of the park, in a park that gets only around 10,000 visitors a year, the lowest of all the National Parks. I was taken aback by the difference between the Sand Dunes, and the rest of the Arctic, you just don't expect all this sand, sun, and heat above the arctic circle.
While the sand dunes are the more famous part of Kobuk Valley, the boreal forest along the dunes' edge is something just as beautiful. The landscape quickly changes from large, dead dunes into a lush open forest. The trees might not be as high, or as close knit as other forests, that doesn't make it any less impressive.
Just like Gates, I took two flights over Kobuk Valley. While Gates was unique with the mountains, Kobuk was equally as impressive for the vas plains and small pockets of water surrounded by lush forests.