Barrow is situated 1,300 miles south of the North Pole, making it the northernmost community in the United States. Two-thirds of its approximately 4,500 residents are of Inupiat Eskimo descent. The local culture is an interesting mix of traditional lifestyles influenced by community investments from the profits of the Alaskan Pipeline. Visitors to Barrow can learn more about Inupiat culture and history at the Inupiat Heritage Center, or by visiting during the Nalukataq - the traditional spring whaling festival, usually held in June.
Kotzebue, with a population of about 3000, is the largest Eskimo community above the North American Arctic Circle. Though incorporated as a city, Kotzebue is essentially still a village, and offers a wide variety of interesting experiences to visitors. The village is situated on the northern tip of the Baldwin Peninsula, 26 miles above the Arctic Circle, 1479 miles south of the North Pole and 175-miles from the Siberian mainland. For hundreds of years Kotzebue, or Qikiqtagruk as it is called in Inupiaq, the Eskimo language of the area, has been the trading and gathering center for the entire area.
Anaktuvuk Pass is a remote village located within the Park and Preserve boundaries. It was established along a major caribou migration route around 1950 by the last remaining band of semi-nomadic Nunamiut Eskimo. Even today, the residents continue to depend on caribou and other natural resources for food, clothing and cultural continuity. Today, Anaktuvuk Pass is a village of 250 people with regular air service, a village store, and a popular museum that highlights Nunamiut history and culture. The people of Anaktuvuk Pass still trade for food resources from the Arctic coast like meat and blubber from seals and whales.
The Dalton Highway slices through northern Alaska from Livengood to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. Built in 1974 as the service road for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the highway is not to be taken lightly. It's a mostly gravel thoroughfare often ruled by 18-wheelers. Services are few, and signs warn of everything from steep grades to avalanches. However, the signs say little of the road's chief attribute: some of North America's most dramatic scenery. The 414-mile road from Livengood to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, carves a path through forest and tundra, crosses the Yukon River and traverses the towering Brooks Range.
A favorite stretch of the highway for many falls between the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle, where you encounter tundra and taiga, with evocative granite outcrops around Finger Mountain. Stay alert for sightings of grizzly and black bears. Sometimes, large herds of caribou may cross the highway. Remain inside your vehicle whenever you spot wildlife, since the vehicle serves as a blind and is the safest place to observe animals. At mile 175, you'll reach Coldfoot, the last services for the next 240 miles. Then you'll head into the Brooks Range, where sky-stabbing spires of bare rock tower over 7,000 feet (2,134 meters).
Bettles - Alaska is located at 66° 54' N Latitude putting Bettles directly under the maximum zone. Traveling either farther north or farther south takes one farther from the maximum auroral zone. Our location combined with the National Weather Service records indicating Bettles has the most "cloud free" days of any spot in Alaska, increases your chances of seeing the Aurora. Unlike other Alaskan destinations where you must pay to go to "some other spot" for good viewing , Aurora viewing in Bettles starts right outside your door.