Walking Tour of Utqiaġvik, Alaska

Midnight sun over cemetery in Utqiaġvik, Alaska

Utqiaġvik, Alaska, is the northernmost town in the United States, and the spit that extends into the Arctic Ocean north of town is the northernmost point in the country (that point is on private land so most can only get to within a mile).

Utqiaġvik is a fascinating town and is unlike most others in the U.S. Due to the harsh climate, its streets are dirt, and the weather ranges from cold in the summer to frigid in the winter. While I was there in July, the high topped out at 38 degrees.

The buildings are utilitarian in design and most are on stilts to prevent foundation damage that would occur if they were embedded in permafrost. Most homes and buildings have indoor plumbing, but a few still do not. Ask a local about the town’s honey buckets.

The people are friendly, and the town’s few restaurants are surprisingly good (albeit VERY expensive). I stayed at the King Eider Inn, just a few steps from the airport exit. It’s a comfortable but basic hotel with fine wood furnishings, a sauna, Wifi and a helpful staff. And like everything else in Utqiaġvik, it’s quite expensive.

Note: Some of the photos shown are not on the route mapped. All are in and around Utqiaġvik, however. To get the best tour, I recommend calling Mike Shultz at (907) 852-3972. He’s lived in Utqiaġvik for over 40 years and knows the town well. He offered to pick me up 10 minutes after I called and spent three hours driving and walking me around the town. He’s an affable guy who loves to share his local knowledge with visitors.

  • One of the nicer houses - with a small tank in the yard - in Barrow, Alaska
  • Midnight sun over Barrow, Alaska
  • Midnight sun over cemetery in Utqiaġvik, Alaska
  • Whaling boat race on the beach of the Arctic Ocean in Barrow, Alaska
  • Typical dirt street in Barrow, Alaska
  • Many of the dumpsters scattered around town had murals painted on them - Barrow, Alaska
  • Bowhead whale jawbone on display in Barrow, Alaska
  • Football field in Barrow, Alaska
  • Arctic Ocean beach in Barrow, Alaska
  • A whale bone skull sits out front of City Hall in Barrow, Alaska
  • Cemetery and satellite dishes south of the airport in Barrow, Alaska
  • Road leading back to town from the spit in Barrow, Alaska

Directions: To get here, you have to fly. Alaska Airlines has a couple flights per day out of Anchorage and Fairbanks into Utqiaġvik‘s Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport (yes, that Will Rogers).

Elevation profile:

Barrow, Alaska