most northerly city in Alaska, United States of America

Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) is a city that is 300 miles (480 km) north of the Arctic Circle on the Arctic Ocean in Arctic Alaska. The city holds the distinction of being the northernmost settlement in the United States, and the northernmost settlement on the North American mainland. The residents are primarily of Inupiat descent (Eskimo, though that term in the 21st century is very offensive). Its population in 2019 was a bit more than 4,500 people.

Understand edit

The city is commonly known as Barrow, its official name until a 2016 referendum changed it to the traditional Iñupiat name of Utqiaġvik. It is the administrative and economic center and the largest city in the North Slope Borough, and it functions as a center for Iñupiat culture and for oil extraction. Traditional hunting, fishing, and whaling are an important part of the community.

Orientation edit

The city is divided into three sections. The southern section is known as the "Barrow side". The larger, traditionally residential central section is known as "Browerville". The smaller, more isolated northern part is known as "NARL", after the Naval Arctic Research Lab that used to be located there.

Climate edit

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches
See Barrow's 7 day forecast    Data from NOAA (1981-2010)
Metric conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm

The climate is constantly frigid, with temperatures averaging slightly above freezing only in July and August.

Precipitation is low year-round and, in a sense, Utqiagvik is in the middle of an "ice desert", despite being located right next to the Arctic Ocean.

The midnight sun can be seen from mid-May to late-July. There is polar night from late November to late January, with twilight only for a few hours from late morning until mid-afternoon.

Get in edit

Utqiaġvik Beach

There are no roads or rails into town. Considering the climate and extreme remoteness of the place, none of this is likely to change any time soon. The only way to travel to Utqiagvik is by plane, although there is an annual summer barge service to send and receive large heavy items such as vehicles, building supplies, and heavy equipment.

By plane edit

Get around edit

A road through Utqiaġvik - straight as the eye can see

By foot edit

Utqiaġvik is very small, and is a flat desert that almost never receives large amounts of snow. So it's easy to get around by foot even in the winter. During the colder months, you can walk directly across the frozen freshwater lagoons. Just bundle up and beware of the wind chill! In "early winter", be careful and ask locals if the lagoons are really totally frozen over yet before you walk on them.

By taxi edit

There are several cab companies in town. They are always driving about, and they can be flagged down easily or called by phone for almost immediate pickup. Rates vary between $5 and $9 around Utqiaġvik proper and Browerville. Within town, they are supposed to charge a $6 fixed rate per one-way trip. To go to Point Barrow or to the lake south of town to see the night sky, it is about $50 per hour.

By car edit

  • 2 UIC Car Rental, 1764 Ahkovak St (near the Utqiaġvik Airport), +1 907 852-2700. M-F 8:30AM-noon, 1-5PM. Provides car rentals but availability can be limited during peak times. Gasoline can also be very expensive (at least for American tastes), as the price is set only once per year.

By bus edit

The city bus runs M-F 7AM–7PM and can be a good option for daily commutes. Visitors, however, will probably be happier taking cabs due to the convenience, as well as the fact that cab fare for a group of 2 or more people will end up costing less money because the bus charges per person.

See edit

  • Fresh water lake
  • 1 Iñupiat Heritage Center, 5421 North Star St, +1 907 852-0422. M-F 8:30AM-5PM. A museum with many fascinating Iñupiat displays and artifacts. Adult (18-59): $10, youth (7-17) and college students: $5, seniors (60+) and children (under 6): free.    
  • NARL / DEW line relics
  • Palm trees at shooting station
  • 2 Point Barrow (Nuvuk). The northernmost point in the United States.    
  • Satcom Array
  • Whalebones
  • Joe's Museum, +1 907 855 1007. By appt. Native art and taxidermy interspersed (very appealingly) with artifacts from the proprietor's bachelor-pad life in the 1980s, and anything else you could think of.

Do edit

  • Bird watch. You can use the bird list from the King Eider Inn.
  • 1 Tundra Tours Inc., 1200 Agvik St, +1 907 852-3900.

Also, see the listing of Airport Inn - Lodging & Tours in the "Sleep" section.

Buy edit

Expect everything, such as groceries, supplies, and restaurant food, to cost 2 to 5 times more in Utqiagvik than they would in Anchorage or the lower 48, because most things can only be brought in by air freight.

  • 1 Arctic Coast Trading Post, 4056 Ahkovak St, +1 907 852-7717. Daily 9AM to midnight.
  • 2 AC Value Center (Alaska Commercial Co), 4725 Ahkovak St, +1 907 852-6711. Daily 7AM to 10PM. Find everything you need in this all-purpose supermarket and supply store with deli.

Eat edit

There are some decent restaurants in the Utqiaġvik/Browerville area. Expect to pay $20-30 per meal at most restaurants.

  • 1 East Coast Pizzeria, 507 Kongosak St (on the corner of Ogrook and Kongosak), +1 907 852-2100. Pizza, philly cheesesteaks, salads, and spaghetti.
  • 2 Osaka Restaurant, 980 Stevenson St, +1 907 852-4100. Cozy, homey atmosphere, very decent teriyaki and other Japanese favorites.
  • 3 Sam and Lee's Chinese Restaurant, Kogiak St (near Cunningham). Friendly service, lunch buffet M-F of dishes from various Asian cuisines, and a few "American" options, for under $20 (as of 2017.)

Drink edit

  Note: The sale/purchase of alcohol is banned in Utqiaġvik, although minor importation or possession is allowed.

Sleep edit

Connect edit

Go next edit

This city travel guide to Utqiagvik is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.