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North America > United States of America > Alaska > Arctic Alaska > Utqiagvik

Utqiaġvik

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Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) is a village located 300 miles (480 km) north of the Arctic Circle on the Arctic Ocean in Arctic Alaska. The tiny village 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 ("Eskimo") descent. Its population hovers just above 4,000 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", and the smaller, more isolated northern part is known as "NARL" after the Naval Arctic Research Lab that used to be located there.

Climate[edit]

Utqiagvik
Climate chart (explanation)
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See Barrow's 7 day forecast    Data from NOAA (1981-2010)
Metric conversion
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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 this place is in the middle of an "ice desert" despite being 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 til mid afternoon.

Get in[edit]

Utqiaġvik Beach

With the exception of an annual summer barge service (to send and receive large heavy items such as vehicles, building supplies, heavy equipment, etc), Utqiaġvik is a fly-in-only city. There are no roads or rails into town and given the climate and extreme remoteness of the place, none of this is likely to change anytime soon. The airport,

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport (BRW IATA) (is directly south of the city, walking distance from some of the hotels and a few of the restaurants.). Wiley Post–Will Rogers Memorial Airport (Q2061693) on Wikidata Wiley Post–Will Rogers Memorial Airport on Wikipedia
    • Alaska Airlines offers several daily flights from Fairbanks, Anchorage and Deadhorse on Prudhoe Bay.
    • Ravn Alaska (formerly Era Airlines, Frontier Flying Service, and before that Cape Smythe Air) also offers air service from Fairbanks and Anchorage. They also continue on to serve surrounding villages of Atqasuk, Nuiqsut, Point Lay and Wainwright.

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 can be flagged down easily or call by phone for almost immediate pickup. Rates vary between $5-9 around Utqiaġvik proper and Browerville. Within town, they are supposed to charge a $6 fixed rate per one-way trip. By the hour, e.g. to go to Point Barrow or to the lake south of town to see the night sky, it's about $50/hr.

By car[edit]

  • UIC Car Rental, 1764 Ahkovak St (near the Utqiaġvik Airport), +1 907 852-2700. 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 Monday thru Friday 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. Iñupiat Heritage Center (Q12812957) on Wikidata Iñupiat Heritage Center on Wikipedia
  • NARL / DEW line relics
  • Palm trees at shooting station
  • Point Barrow
  • 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]

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

Buy[edit]

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

  • Arctic Coast Trading Post, 4056 Ahkovak St, +1 907 852-7717. Daily 9AM to Midnight.
  • AC Value Center (Alaska Commercial Co), 4725 Ahkovak St. (AC Value Center), +1 907 852-6711. Daily 7AM to 10PM. Find everything you need in this all-purpose supermarket and supply store with deli.
  • Barrow Quickstop (Alaska Commercial Co), 1250 Aguik St. Find everything you need in this all-purpose supermarket and supply store with deli.

Eat[edit]

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

  • Arctic Pizza, 125 Apayauq St, +1 907 852-4222. Great pizza with fresh toppings, and other cuisines.
  • Arctic Thai, 5146 Herman St (Browerville), +1 907 852-5719.
  • Browers Restaurant, +1 907 852-3456. Occupies the most historic building in town, the 19th-century whaling station and store built by Charles Brower, who introduced 'Yankee' whaling techniques to the Iñupiat and sired one of Barrow's most illustrious families. The restaurant serves a long menu of American and Korean dishes. Big windows look out on the beach and a famous whalebone arch is just outside.
  • East Coast Pizzeria, 507 Kongosak St (On the corner of Ogrook and Kongosak), +1 907 852-2100. Pizza, philly cheesesteaks, salads, and spaghetti.
  • Northern Lights Restaurant, 5122 Herman St (Browerville), +1 907 852-3300. A very comfortable, clean dining room operated by a charming family. Their menu goes on and on, with the owner's own Chinese food, plus deli selections and burgers, and great pizza.
  • Orties Filipino Fast Food, +1 907 852-5721.
  • Osaka Restaurant, 980 Stevenson St, +1 907 852-4100. Cozy, homey atmosphere, very decent teriyaki and other Japanese favorites.
  • 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.)
  • Shogun Teriyaki House, 1906 Pakpuk St, +1 907 852-2276.
  • Stuaqpak Food Court. AC Value Center (shopping center/general store) deli.

Drink[edit]

Caution 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.