The Noatak Basin is a transition zone for plants and animals between Arctic and subarctic environments. Wildlife of the Noatak tundra includes moose, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, arctic foxes, lemmings, Dall sheep, vast herds of Caribou numbering more than 500,000 individuals, and a variety of birds.
The basin was proclaimed a United States National Monument in 1978 and a National Preserve in 1980 through the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Noatak National Preserve borders Kobuk Valley National Park on the south and borders Gates of the Arctic National Park on the east. Unlike the National Parks that it borders, sport hunting is allowed in Noatak National Preserve.