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71 north tours, ** tours begin june 1, 2024 **.

Our Inupiat tour business is dedicated to sharing our unique culture with visitors. As members of the Inupiat community, we have a deep understanding and respect for the Arctic environment and our people. Our true Alaskan tours offer an authentic experience that educates the traditions, customs, and way of life of our community. Let us share our culture with you and take you on a journey through the Arctic that you will never forget.

We offer a 2-hour off-road tour, starting from your preferred pick-up location, that will take you all the way to Point Barrow, Alaska.

We accept cash or credit card and will be charged prior to the tour.

Point Barrow Alaska - 71NorthTours

Point Barrow, Alaska

Northernmost Point in America

Arctic Ocean - 71NorthTours

Arctic Ocean

Experience the breathtaking Arctic Ocean

Inupiat Culture - 71NorthTours

Inupiat Culture

Learn about our culture

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Explore the Wild!

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Utqiaġvik whale bone triangle

Utqiagvik (Barrow) Adventure – Overnight Tour

Multi day tour from/to anchorage or fairbanks, 2 days / 1 night.

Fly north from Anchorage or Fairbanks across the Arctic Circle to the Inupiat Eskimo village of Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow).

  • Discover firsthand the lifestyles of Alaska’s Arctic Coastal peoples with a tour of the village with a local host.
  • Walk the shores of the Arctic Ocean near the northernmost point on the North American Continent. Bravely dip your toe in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Overnight in Utqiaġvik at Top of the World Hotel (included).

Cross the Arctic Circle

Visit the Inupiat Eskimo village

Walk the shores of the Arctic Ocean

Bravely dip your toe in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean

Tour Summary

Day 1: Depart Anchorage for your 1 hour 50 minute flight by jet to the community of Utqiagvik. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel, free time to explore and have dinner.

Day 2: Breakfast on your own, check out of Top of the World Hotel and meet your local host for your guided tour around Utqiagvik. The route can vary but will take you around the residential and commercial areas of the community to get an insight into life in this Arctic Community.

*** NOTE – Flight times have been variable the last couple of years – schedule below is based on current schedule being posted by Alaska Airlines for the mid/late summer of 2024. ***

FLIGHT TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

From Anchorage:

  • Day 1   Depart Anchorage at 3:05 PM on AS #51, arrive at Utqiaġvik at 4:59 PM
  • Day 2 Depart Utqiaġvik at 5:52 PM on AS #50, arrive at Anchorage at 7:36 PM

From Fairbanks:

  • Day 1 Depart Fairbanks on AS #2406 at 12:15 PM, arrive at Anchorage at 1:17 PM, depart at Anchorage on AS #51 at 3:05 PM – Arrive at Utqiagvik at 4:59 PM
  • Day 2 Depart at Utqiagvik on AS #50 at 5:52 PM – Arrive at Anchorage at 7:36 PM , depart at Anchorage on AS #2110 at 8:45 PM, arrive at Fairbanks at 9:42 PM

Flight times are subject to change . The times are given as an example – the 2024 flight schedule for Alaska Airlines has and will most likely continue to change over the course of the summer and can be extreme, for example changing from an afternoon flight to a morning/mid morning flight.

Tours operate daily from May 15 – September 15, 2024.

From/to Fairbanks,  (no meals included)

** For single occupancy please add USD150 single supplement **

From/to Anchorage,  (no meals included)

CANCELLATION POLICY

Any change, $180.00 per person – Cancellations: up to 7 days prior USD 155.00/person – Later 100% due Cancellations from side of Alaska Airlines at discretion of Alaska Airlines may or may not received a refund or voucher.

Use this form to request a non-binding quote for the  Utqiagvik Adventure Overnight (NAT31 / 32). One of our destination specialists will contact you shortly with specific pricing and itinerary information.

Book Your Tour

Experience the best of barrow, alaska with unique north slope tours, included with the summer day tour.

  • Tea & coffee facilities in each room
  • Radio Alarm-clock in every room
  • 24hr Service
  • Cosy Nanuq Lounge

Polar Bear plunge

By submitting this form, you consent to share your personal information with us to service your request and for communication purposes. We do not sell your data to third parties.

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Utqiaġvik Adventure - Overnight Tour

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Tour Summary

  • Fly north from Anchorage across the Arctic Circle to the Inupiat Eskimo village of Utqiaġvik.
  • Discover firsthand the lifestyles of Alaska's Arctic Coastal peoples with a tour of the village with a local host.
  • Walk the shores of the Arctic Ocean near the northernmost point on the North American Continent. Bravely dip your toe in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Overnight in Utqiaġvik at Top of the World Hotel (included). 
  • Depart Utqiaġvik by air on Alaska Airlines to Anchorage.  (Departure and/or return flights can be arranged from/to Fairbanks.  The routing would be Fairbanks to Anchorage, change planes on the way to Utqiagvik on Day 1 and it would be Utqiagvik to Anchorage, change planes to then go to Fairbanks on Day 2)  NOTE - Flight times have been variable the last couple of years - schedule below is based on current schedule being posted by Alaska Airlines for the mid/late summer of 2024.

Tour Dates and Rates

May 15, 2024 - September 15, 2024

Varied Departure Times

Days: Daily

Rate: $779 *

* STARTING AT RATE

  • Arctic Circle
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Undiscovered Arctic

FLIGHT TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO, AND DO, CHANGE

Day 1 -   START   Depart Anchorage 3:05 PM on AS #51 / 4:59 PM  arrive Utqiaġvik 

Day 2 - RETURN Depart Utqiaġvik 5:52 PM on AS #50/ arrive Anchorage at 7:36 PM

Flight times are subject to change - we ask guests to call 1-2 days prior to departure to reconfirm times .  The above  times are given as an example - the 2024 flight schedule for Alaska Airlines has and will most likely continue to change over the course of the summer.   THIS CHANGE CHANGE CAN BE EXTREME - changing from an afternoon flight to a morning/mid morning flight.

Tour Schedule: Tours operate daily from May 15 - September 15, 2024.  

2024 Starting at Rates: Rates began at $779 per person from Anchorage ($829 per person from Fairbanks) and are based on double occupancy and subject to change. Rates can and do vary depending on requested date of travel, routing and available categories of seat rates. 

SINGLE Guests / Single Rooms:  Add $150 for Single Supplement.

CANCELLATION Policy   - Due to restrictions of commercial air travel it is very important for guests to understand the Cancellation Policy associated booking the Utqiaġvik Adventure.

There is a $150 per change fee for any changes made to this reservation once it has been made (name spelling or date/flights) plus any additional fees associated with a higher ticket price if the reservation is changed to a new day. An exchange of travelers is not allowed.

CANCELLATION : Outside of 48 hours prior to scheduled departure = $125 fee per person Within 48 hours prior to scheduled departure = 100% non-refundable

No refunds will be made on unused portions of any itinerary omitted by the passenger while traveling.

CANCELLATION OF FLIGHT BY ALASKA AIRLINES:

The tours sold herein have a risk of cancellation or rescheduling due to uncontrollable circumstances such as adverse weather conditions. It may be necessary to delay a departure, expedite a departure or cancel a tour entirely.

Under these circumstances, Northern Alaska Tour Company will attempt to secure a refund on behalf of the guests. It is important to note that any refund or voucher given is at the sole discretion of the airline and   cannot be guaranteed.   Any additional costs incurred due to trip disruption such as, but not limited to, meals or forced overnights are the responsibility of the guests.

At the sole discretion of the airline, a voucher for airline travel at a future date may be issued, however, if one is traveling with a tight timeframe that does not lend itself to rescheduling or does not likely have use for such vouchers at later time, travel insurance is strongly recommended. 

Responsibility, Liability and Extra Costs : Northern Alaska Tour Company contracts with carriers, hoteliers and other independent suppliers to provide the travel services you purchase. These parties are independent suppliers; we have no direct control of the supplier or their products. Northern Alaska Tour Company is responsible for effectively reserving and coordinating the itinerary only. We are not responsible for any claims, losses, damages, additional costs or expenses.

Note: In respect to the community's recent vote to rename Barrow to Utqiaġvik, the traditional Inupiat name for the community, Northern Alaska Tour Company's Barrow Adventure have been renamed to the  Utqiaġvik Adventure.

Adventure Series guests travel to and from Utqiaġvik in a 737 jet operated by Alaska Airlines. On any given day the plane can be configured to accommodate up to 111 passengers.  

For information on how to make a reservation, click on the link to our planning  page. 

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Arctic Ocean Adventure

A three day guided round trip journey by air and land to Alaska's Arctic Coast

  • ✓ Arctic Circle
  • ✓ Arctic Ocean
  • Χ Polar Bear
  • Χ Undiscovered Arctic
  • ✓ Yukon River

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Denali Summit Flight (from Denali)

Thrill at the excitement of witnessing firsthand Denali, North America's tallest mountain, by air from a unique perspective - eye level!

  • Χ Arctic Circle
  • Χ Arctic Ocean
  • Χ Yukon River

Experience True Nature

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Things to do in Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska

Whaling Monument

Nestled alongside the vast Arctic Ocean, Utqiagvik stands proud as the northernmost inhabited point in the United States. Typically overlooked on most Alaskan interaries, a trip up to Utqiagvik promises a truly unique adventure to the heart of a frozen world.

Formerly Known as “Barrow”

In 2016, Barrow underwent a transformative name change. Its residents voted to rename the village back to Utqiagvik, its traditional Iñupiaq name, bridging the present with their ancestral roots. The name isn’t just symbolic but an affirmation of the region's indigenous identity. While you will often still see the name Barrow referenced in older travel materials and government documents, the official name is Utqiagvik, and should be used during your trip.

Why You Should Visit 

Utqiagvik isn't merely a geographical wonder; it's a living tapestry of Iñupiaq culture. It proudly holds the title of the largest Iñupiaq settlement in Alaska, echoing centuries of history, traditions, and enduring spirit.

By making the journey up to this northern world, you will enter into a place of extremes. You will have the chance to walk across tundra, see rare arctic wildlife, and interact with the rich and beautiful culture of the Iñupiat people.

Top Experiences in Utqiagvik

Visit the iñupiat heritage center .

Located in Utqiagvik, the Iñupiat Heritage Center is a treasure trove of history and culture. You can visit the center on your own or book a guided tour through the Top of the World Hotel. This is the perfect spot to start your trip, with in-depth exhibits and live demonstrations that introduce and inform visitors about Iñupiat traditions.

Live demonstrations:  Live demonstrations, such as traditional dances and games, occur often, throughout the summer, from 1:30-3:30. If you are visiting outside of the summer season, call ahead for hours. Iñupiat traditions.

Take a Photo at the Whale Bone Arch

No trip to Utqiagvik is complete without a photo op at the Whale Bone Arch. Here you can stand under the Whale Bone Arch, a monument to the whaling traditions that have sustained the people of this region for generations. It's a must-visit photo point that captures the spirit of Utqiagvik and a great way to memorialize your trip to the far north.

Touch the Arctic Ocean

If you visit in the summer, you’ll have the unique opportunity to experience a sensation few on this planet get to experience – touching the Arctic Ocean. In the summer, the sea ice retreats far enough to unveil the unique beaches of Utqiagvik. This is your chance to walk the shores of the Arctic Ocean and even dare to dip a toe into its icy embrace (or opt for a full polar bear plunge if you’re feeling bold).

Dance under the Northern Lights

Winter nights in Utqiagvik offer the perfect chance to witness the Aurora Borealis. With the wide horizon of the tundra, you can enjoy a full display of the lights as they dance above you. You will need to visit during a time when Utqiagvik experiences true darkness.  Ensure your camera is ready to capture this ethereal phenomenon, and download an aurora app to monitor solar activity during your stay.

Visit the Birnirk National Historic Landmark

Barely a few miles from town, this landmark narrates stories of human settlements dating back 1,000 to 1,500 years. Traverse through 16 dwelling mounds and marvel at how driftwood and whalebones shape these ancient homes. Dive deeper into Iñupiat history through artifacts offering insights into the links between prehistoric cultures and their modern descendants.

Book a Top of the World Hotel Day Tour

If you’re looking to experience everything Utqiagvik has to offer, without overlooking the immense cultural and historical significance of every sight, consider booking a day trip with the Top of the World Hotel. This all-inclusive tour is your ticket to experiencing Utqiagvik's highlights. From tundra walks, spotting wildlife, and historical tours, this tour ensures every moment promises a memory. The tour also includes transportation, in case you haven’t booked a car for your stay.

Go Birding in the Arctic

As summer beckons, migratory birds grace Utqiagvik and the tundra becomes a birder’s paradise. While you are exploring the road outside of town, keep your binoculars handy to look for snowy owls, eiders, and loons. You can also download the eBird app for up-to-date sightings.

Go Whale Watching 

Utqiagvik’s beaches become nature's theater in summers. With a large migration of whales throughout the summer, many of these mighty creatures venture close enough that you can spot them from shore. Keep your eye out for the spouts of bowhead or beluga whales.

Take a Drive on the Road System

Utqiagvik doesn’t boast an extensive road network, but the roads you can travel here offer a great way to experience all of the beautiful wonders of the arctic. In the summer, you can spot seals, arctic foxes, and caribou, and if the stars align, a rare glimpse of a polar bear. You also have a chance to drive to the most northern point of the United States, the perfect spot for another photo op!

Life in Utqiagvik - What You Should Know

Life in Utqiagvik is unique – even by Alaska’s standards. If you’re visiting in the summer, be prepared for 24-hour daylight from mid-May to mid-August (known as the “Midnight Sun”), and be prepared for constant darkness if you visit around the winter solstice.

Even in the summer, the climate can be deceptively cold despite the constant sun, with average summer temperatures around 40°F. Grocery shopping can be an expensive affair due to transportation logistics. It's advised to budget for higher prices, especially at gas stations where fuel prices can be significantly higher than the mainland U.S. due to the annual shipment of gasoline.

Getting to Utqiagvik

Utqiagvik is accessible primarily by air. Major Alaskan airlines operate flights to and from Utqiagvik, ensuring it's well-connected despite its remote location. Make sure to book in advance, especially if visiting during peak tourist seasons.

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Top of the World

WELCOME TO TOP OF THE WORLD HOTEL Unwind by the Arctic Ocean - A Unique Mid Town Refuge in Barrow, Alaska Escape to the northernmost city in the United States and discover an inviting home away from home where authentic Iñupiat hospitality extends a warm welcome from the moment you arrive. Located on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Utqiagvik/Barrow, Alaska is known for its breathtaking environment that offers unique opportunities for relaxation and adventure. And nestled in North Slope, our mid-town hotel embodies the best that this spectacular Arctic destination has to offer. From spacious accommodations with sweeping ocean views to modern amenities and exceptional 24-hour service, we have everything you need for a delightful stay.Host a corporate event in style at one of our flexible meeting venues, enjoy exquisite culinary experiences at our onsite restaurant, or explore the sights and sounds with an insightful tour that unveils the wonders of Eskimo Iñupiat culture and history. Visit popular attractions in the vicinity, including the iconic Whale Bone Arches and the Iñupiat Heritage Center. Catch a glimpse of fascinating wildlife or gaze at the awe-inspiring winter aurora. Whether you're in town for business or leisure, you can count on an unforgettable experience when you book a stay at the Top of the World Hotel.

Top of the World

3060 Eben Hopson Street, Barrow, Alaska, 99723

907-852-3900

[email protected]

Terms & Conditions

Tundra Tours Inc. – Top of the World Hotel - Terms and Conditions   

Guaranteed Reservations  

Top of the World Hotel guarantees reservations with a valid authorized Visa or MasterCard  at the time of booking. Authorized credit card, deposit or other payment must be secured  before a reservation is confirmed or guaranteed.  

Reservation Modification  

Please note that a change in length of stay or dates of your reservation may result in a rate  change or additional fees. Guest who check-out of the hotel prior to their scheduled  departure date is subject to an early departure fee equivalent to a one-night stay. Multi room, Group, Conference, and Event reservations are subject to cancellation, modification  and deposit policies outlined at time of booking and may vary from standard hotel policies.  

Reservations Cancellation  

The Top of the World Hotel adheres to a 72hr cancellation policy. Late cancellations will be  charged the equivalent of a one-night stay. If for any reason you must cancel your stay, please call us at least 3 days before your arrival, and you will be issued a cancellation  number and will not incur any charges. Multi-room, group and meeting reservations follow  this policy. Charges for cancellations will not be incurred if there is a flight cancellation of same  day of arrival.

No Shows  

No shows will be charged the equivalent of a one-night stay. (no tax)  

Room Taxes & Fees  

Reservations incur a 5% Barrow Bed Tax and may include other fees as applicable.  

Cash Payment  

If paying with cash, the total cost for your reservation, plus a deposit of $500 will be  collected at check-in.  

Credit Cards  

Credit Cards will be authorized at check-in for the amount of your stay. An additional  amount to cover incidentals may be assessed. The authorization will hold the funds until  check-out, at which time the amount actually incurred during the stay will be charged.  Authorized amounts may take up to 30 days after departure to be released by your bank or  financial institution and the hotel is not responsible for any resulting fees or charges. For  payment arrangements with a third-party credit card, the hotel must receive a completed  and signed Credit Card Authorization Form before the reservation can be guaranteed.  

Direct Billing  

To arrange for direct billing with Top of the Hotel you must have 100 nights or more stays  per calendar year. Direct billing Accounts or wire transfers for charges or deposits, please  contact hotel management for information or applications. 

Service & Accommodations  

Top of the World Hotel reserves the right to refuse to provide admittance, service or  accommodation in the hotel to any person, including but not limited to a person who, while  on the premises of the hotel: (a) acts in an intoxicated/impaired and or disorderly manner,  (b) destroys or threatens to destroy property, (c) causes or threatens to cause a  disturbance, (d) is determined by hotel management to post a threat to the safety or  security of hotel employees, registered guests, or the general public.  

Top of the World Hotel provides accommodations as a temporary service, is not a  residence, may change services, may change prices, may limit the amount of persons who  may occupy a particular guest room or space in the hotel, and will only allow registered  guests to use Top of the World Hotel facilities.  

Top of the World Hotel may pursue payment, fees and damages from a person who  negligently or intentionally does not settle their bill, causes damage to the hotel, staff,  property, or incurs a loss of revenue resulting from Top of the World Hotel inability to rent  or lease rooms or space while damage is being repaired.  

Top of the World Hotel may also pursue payment for fees and charges from the company,  agency and guest(s) who reserved, rented, leased or stayed at the hotel is responsible parties  for the damages. 

Arrival and Departure  

Check-in time is 3:00PM and Check-out time is 11:00AM. Modifications to an arrival or  departure such as and early check-in may be available but are not guaranteed. Please check  with the front desk on the day of check-in. Items found in the room after check-out may be  discarded after 90 days.  

Age Requirement  

Guest must be 18 years or older with a valid government picture identification to reserve  and check into a room. Minors must be supervised by at least one adult throughout the  hotel at all times.  

Government and Shareholder Rates  

Discounted rates can only be authorized with an applicable valid government or valid  shareholder identification.

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You are invited to join us for this small group experience to the northernmost Inupiat community of Utqiaġvik,formerly known as Barrow. Utqiaġvik 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. Utqiaġvik (Barrow) was originally a whaling community, and tours of Utqiaġvik combine cultural and educational activities with wildlife viewing and tundra exploration. Visitors 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. The majority of Utqiaġvik tours take place between mid-May and mid-September, when average daytime temperatures are in the 40s. Keep in mind that average nighttime temperatures only creep above freezing in July and August. In winter, the community endures 65 days of darkness, while during summer it enjoys 82 days of perpetual sunlight.

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Round trip scenic flight to Utqiaġvik (Barrow)

Guided Tour of Utqiaġvik

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Tour Departures

Every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday,  Saturday

Marc, FL: We flew to Barrow and didn't know what to expect regarding our tour as my wife booked it. We were pleasantly surprised when our local tour guide picked us up from Barrow airport. We had time for lunch and then we were off for an entertaining afternoon. Growing up there, he is very knowledgable about the history and the people. Lots of stops for pics. We saw snowy owls, touched the Arctic Ocean, felt the squishy tundra and were permitted to watch a native woman preparing seals for her family's winter survival. Great to hear a very personal account of life in Barrow, of the culture and history of the northern most town. Visiting Barrow was one of my favorite stops during out two week vacation in Alaska!

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The Daily Adventures of Me

Things to do in Barrow, Alaska (Utqiagvik): A Trip to the Top of the World (or at Least the US)

My family took an epic trip to Alaska during the summer of 2019. You can read about the whole trip here. Each family member was allowed to pick one thing they really wanted to do as far as expensive excursions (Alaska is expensive!) Three of the five of us desired a visit above the Arctic Circle.

Read on for why we choose Barrow, how we got there and things to do in Barrow (Utqiagvik), Alaska. It ended up being the most culturally unique and thought-provoking trip we have done.

What to do in Barrow, Alaska

Table of Contents

Visiting the Arctic Circle

What is the arctic circle.

The Arctic Circle is the northernmost circle of latitude. At this latitude the ground is in a state of permafrost, meaning it never thaws in the year. The temperatures are low, the growing season is short (only about 100 days) and the daylight is different. The sun doesn’t even exactly set in the east and rise in the west if it goes down at all. In the summer it rises and sets near the northern horizon and is around most of the time. Conversely, It sets in the south in the winter when there are many hours of darkness.

In Alaska, the Arctic Circle lies about 200 miles north of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway, a rough road on which most rental car companies do not allow their cars driven. There are also areas above Anchorage you can fly into.

birds in Barrow, Alaska

Where in Alaska to Visit Above the Arctic Circle

I had already been away from work for a little too long (I run a dental practice), so we didn’t have a lot of time to spend above the Arctic Circle. We looked at going into some small villages in northwest Alaska, such as Kotzebue, but for us, the trip would have taken too long. We knew we were going to Fairbanks and had read about day trips to the Arctic Circle.

Arctic Circle Day Trip from Anchorage

Alaska Airlines has a flight that leaves Anchorage in the morning flying directly to Barrow and returns in the evening. It will give you about 7 hours in Barrow.

How to Get From Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle

Arctic circle day trip from fairbanks.

If you only have a day, you can get to the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks with two basic tours:

  • Drive just over the Arctic Circle sign on the Dalton Highway with a tour. 12 hours and around $200. Book a day driving tour here. 
  • Take a tour to fly up to Coldfoot and a drive back (or visa versa), stopping at a native village, Joy. 12 hours and around $500.  Book a fly and drive here. 

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How to Fly from Fairbanks to Barrow

Alaska Airlines has flights that go daily from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay to Barrow and back again to Anchorage.

With regular commercial flights to Barrow for under $300 per person, we decided we would much rather visit the Arctic this way than by day tour. We could see the Arctic Ocean, stay overnight in a hotel and take a tour for under $500.

What to do in Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse)?

What to do in Deadhorse Things to do in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

First of all, you are stopping in an unincorporated village called Deadhorse. Not a positive sign.

We had a two and a half hour layover, so we hoped to see a bit of the town. The airport is very small, just a corrugated metal building and a tarmac. We asked the flight attendants what we could do in town and they looked blankly at us and said they had never gotten off the plane and the only thing to do is get some really good soup. Really good soup in Deadhorse? Intriguing, albeit a bit bizarre.

We asked the people on the ground the same question and pretty much got the same answer. Prudhoe Bay is all oil wells on the Arctic. They do offer tours , but you have to plan ahead because you need clearance to get on the fields. There are no taxis or Uber in the area.

The official population of the town in 25. Yes, 25, although the transient population servicing the oil fields numbers in the thousands. The oil fields are why the settlement is there.

After our stop, we were on to the main attraction…

24 Hours in Barrow, Alaska

24 hours in Barrow Alaska

Why visit Barrow, Alaska?

  • Barrow has a strong Iñupiat culture and there are many ways to explore it.
  • It is easy to get to compared to most Eskimo, or Inuit, villages. In Alaska, Inuit is the name for the collection of native tribes that long ago traveled to North America over the Bering Strait from Russia. They are currently settled above Fairbanks. There are Eskimos elsewhere in the world and they are all ethnically related to Mongolians.
  • Barrow lies on the Arctic Ocean and its peninsula, Point Barrow, is the northernmost land in the United States.
  • There are walruses, beluga whales and polar bears.
  • It is so different than the lower 48.
  • When we first arrived in Barrow, we were struck by the mud and junk in yards. Barrow was a perfect opportunity to explore the way my family percieves cultures and places. It was quite thought-provoking for us.

Is it Still Called Barrow?

Barrow got its English name after an explorer, Sir John Barrow in 1825. It has been a home of the Iñupiat natives for over 4,000 years.

In 2016, the locals decided to change the name back to the original Iñupiat name, of Utqiaġvik, so that is officially the name of this town. The correct name sounds like Oot-Key-og-vik , with an unusual guttural accent in a key that will make it difficult for non-native speakers to say.

However, I never heard one person refer to it as Utqiaġvik in town, although I saw it written. Our flights were booked to Barrow, the listings on the web are under Barrow.

The Realities of Barrow, Alaska

The climate is harsh, the native land has been overrun by foreigners for oil and the bay is only accessible for two months of the year. Like many areas in the US, you can see the struggle of a people holding onto its culture in the midst of being part of the US.

There are many parts of Utqiaġvik that will first turn off many from the lower 48– whale hunting, muddy roads and yards full of junk. If you open your eyes and mind you will appreciate how all these things are proof of the strength and ingenuity of an independent people who survived in an environment many are afraid to visit at all.

What to do in Barrow Alaska

The city of Barrow is small enough to walk around. It is not safe to walk outside of town due to the danger of polar bears. Locals travel by car, ATV or snowmobile. There are many taxis that you can call.

Spend time walking around town, exploring shops and the beach in front of the whale ribs.

Family visit to Barrow, Alaska

Take a Tour

Although I am all about exploring cities on my own, this is a place you really need to be shown around. The guides bring with them extensive knowledge of the local culture, as well as the area.

Since it is not safe to walk outside of town, this is the only way you can get to Point Barrow, the northernmost land in the United States as well as visit the town’s cemetery and see the tundra. It will also give you a better chance to see wildlife in the area, such as birds, whales and polar bears.

We took the basic tour which was 2 hours long and $100 a person. For $500 a person, you can walk with the guide all the way out onto Point Barrow. We took our tour with Mike of Windows of the World . I would also recommend Andrew who we spent a lot of time talking with. He runs the Airport Inn, so you can contact him by calling there.

Things to do in Arctic Alaska

Visit the Heritage Center

Spend a few hours in the Iñupiat Heritage Center , an exciting and informative place to learn about the natives of the North Slope. We were blessed to have  Iñupiat local, Colleen, share her family experiences whaling while showing us the whaling exhibition.

When you are done, be sure to see the local artists outside and to the left of the building as they use local materials to produce unique handicrafts. The museum is closed from 12-1 for lunch, although the artists are still active.

Do you Dare Take the Plunge?

Take a polar bear plunge in the land of the polar bears. Either of the tour guides I recommended will help you make that happen.

Things to do in Utqiagvik

Take in a Whaling Festival

Bowhead whales come to shore where they are hunted in spring and fall. If you visit at these times you may be able to take part in these cultural celebrations. These whales are not endangered.

Birding in Alaska

Mike also offers bird tours. Barrow is one of the best spots in Alaska to see unique birds.

How Long to Stay in Barrow, Alaska

The town is stark and small, so unless you come for a reason other than seeing what it is all about, you don’t need to stay for more than 24 hours.

Where to Stay in Barrow, Alaska

Top of the world hotel.

There are not many hotels to choose from. A native corporation owns the seaside Top of the World . It feels like a hotel, has a restaurant with reindeer soup and a lobby with information, much like a museum, about the area.

The Airport Inn

We stayed at The Airport Inn, which is a B&B owned by Arizona-native, Andrew, and his Iñupiat wife, Nancy. This is the perfect spot to stay in Barrow. The rooms are bigger and less expensive and it’s just a few blocks from the airport.

But the real reason this place was so perfect was the hospitality and help of the owners. They set the tone for our positive learning experience of the whole town. And their dog, Pickles, put a smile on our face when he was around.

what to do in Utqiagvik

What to Eat in Barrow

The food in the town was much different than I expected, although that was true in much of Alaska. The majority of the restaurants in town are owned by Koreans! If you want Iñupiat food, you won’t really find it. The closest you can get is the reindeer soup at Top of the World, which is served alongside a very stereotypical American menu. Natives wouldn’t eat reindeer, but rather caribou.

Why is this so? Any food considered part of a subsistence diet cannot be sold in a restaurant. That even means that you can’t order local whitefish.

That being said, the Chinese food was very tasty at Sam and Lee’s. The portions are huge and Mrs. Kim is very welcoming.

When to Visit Barrow

Even in the summer, the temperatures feel like a nice New England winter day, falling between 35-45 F. In the winter they plummet far into the negatives. I imagine there is a beauty to the white, as opposed to the brown dirt of the summer.

Polar Bears in Barrow

The area surrounding Barrow has polar bears. That is a big draw to the town for tourists who want to see one. They come into the area on ice floes. The summer we visited all of the ice was melted, as it has been for the last few years. This means there was very little chance for us to see the bears. You are most likely to see the bears in the fall and spring.

For more information on how to see wildlife in Alaska read my Alaskan Wildlife Guide.

Literary Inspiration for Barrow, Alaska

The movie, Big Miracle, follows the true story of the rescue of three gray whales in Barrow. It sheds light on both sides of whale hunting and gave us an idea of the town before we visited. Read Stories to Inspire Travel for more ideas of books and movies to enhance your travels.

Our trip to Barrow, Alaska was not warm and glamorous, but one we will remember forever. It was a highlight of our epic trip to Alaska, even to the youngest in my family. It was eye-opening and served a purpose to my family which is one of the main reasons we expose them to traveling- an understanding of people and lifestyles much different than them.

When are you headed to Barrow? Have you been? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Don’t forget to check out my other Alaska posts.

Read on to see how easy it is to learn about the native Inupiat culture, put your feet in the Arctic Ocean and perhaps see a polar bear as a day trip while you are visiting Alaska. #Arctic #thingstodoinAlaska #USAtravel #TBIN

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30 thoughts on “Things to do in Barrow, Alaska (Utqiagvik): A Trip to the Top of the World (or at Least the US)”

This was such a good post on Barrow! I loved my time seasonally working there and recently re-visiting! It’s truly a unique destination filled with culture!

I was thankful for all I learned from you before I visited. So glad I got there and you appreciating it is a high compliment. Thanks, Joy.

But you’re. It going to mention “30 Days of Night” 😉 I

But you’re not going to mention “30 Days of Night” 😉

They definitely have that, but we were there in the summer when it barely got dark.

This is so well written. Felt as if i visited Barrow.

Thank you for including the Airport Inn in your adventures and article.

It is exciting to read other’s experiences of the place we call home.

Safe travels and many blessings!

Blessings to you, Nancy.

Looks like I am eating a ton of soup when we finally get up to Barrow or mainland Alaska! I would love to try the reindeer soup for sure! I love also all the different heritage experiences you had. I know so little about the true Inuit or Eskimo cultures so to get a chance to see how they lived, survived, and celebrated life would be a wonderful experience.

I never made it to Fairbanks, let alone Barrow. I can see why life is challenging here. I guess the oil business mostly drives the economy.

After reading your story I have to visit Barrow. It sounds quite intriguing and a place that really deserves to be seen.

Never thought of visiting the Arctic Circle! I visited Iceland and I do enjoy the remoteness and nature. Good to know it is best to have a guide. I too like to explore on my own, but I also know you get so much more with a guide. I wish I get to see polar bears in person some day!

It is SO COOL that you got to go! I’ve always known about Utqiagvik just because of its geographical significance, but I had no idea what the town would be like. It’s good to know that organizing tours beforehand is the way to go. It’s also fascinating to hear that there are a lot of Korean restaurants, but I would still want to try the reindeer soup.

Amazing post . Myself I enjoy seeing life of the locals & Natives, not the tourist attractions. I am excited to visit the Barrow after reading your article. Most of my researching on areas to visit I have never come across anything negative about the Natives…only how wonderful everyone was. This trip next week is limited, a week. Next trip I am definitely taking more time. Again thank you for your article and glad you all loved it

We are heading to Barrow for 24 hours in mid November. My impression is that there really aren’t any tours in 2021.. will be at top of the world .. have hard checkout at 11 and plane at 5. Suggestions? I loved your post btw!!

Joan, The tour we went on was private. It will be cold when you are there, but I imagine they will still be available. Definitely give the operators a call.

We made the trip to Barrow in November 2021. Freezing cold, dark, we absolutely loved every minute…Arctic Ocean, the town, the Inn, the Chinese food, the coffee pop up. We rented a pickup truck. It was absolutely perfect.

What a cool experience with it all dark!

This was great, thank you!! I’d like to head to Barrow to put my feet in the arctic ocean, but now you have me excited to perhaps see a polar bear. We’ll see.

About to head up to Barrow on a 2 month nursing contract. Thanks for all the helpful info 🙂

I visited Barrow with my family June 14-15, 2021. I generally don’t like the winter at all, and I usually think of a vacation spot as a place with palm trees. My family thought I might enjoy something different. IT WAS AWESOME! Barrow was a mythical place until I walked the roads, met the friendly locals, and stood on the frozen Arctic Ocean. The countdown to midnight was very much like New Year’s Eve, and when 12:00 AM came, my wife and I had our photo taken standing on the Arctic Ocean ice with the midnight sun in the sky. Although the sky was cloudy, the scene was something difficult to really capture with a photograph; you had to be there. If you get a chance to go to Barrow, take it. If you don’t like cold weather, it won’t matter, go there anyway. I write this note on Feb 20, 2022 from Hopkinton, MA, in the middle of a New England winter. I look forward to the spring, but I smile when I remember my visit to Barrow.

I love this story about your time in Barrow- magical. Thanks for sharing.

My wife and I will be there in mid Sept. I’m glad to get your recommendation for a guide. This has been on my bucket list for a long time. I hope layering of sweaters under a windbreaker will suffice.

I think you may want to invest in a thick jacket in September!

Visiting in Jan 2024. Looking for host to show me around. I will pay. Age 65, male, staying at Top of World hotel. I’m a world traveler and enjoying meeting people and seeing things. Staying 2 days. This is not for sex or dating. Just exploring.

I don’t live there, but good luck finding a guide.

I’m heading to Barrow in early October. When exactly is the whale festival? Do you know? Is there such a thing as going whale watching for tourists? Did you see that anywhere? Loved reading your article. Thank you for all the info!

The whale festival is in the summer and I didn’t see anything about whale watching. Enjoy your trip.

I think a clarification is necessary – there are several Alaska Native Heritages, typically marked by the ancestorial regions – Inupiat, , Athabascan, Tlingit, Aleut, Haida, and Yup’ik, among others.

Thank you for the information.

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Alaska: Utqiagvik (Barrow): Top of the World Bird Photography

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June 13 – 18, 2025

From: Utqiagvik (Barrow), AK Participant Limit: 6 (3 per leader) Activity Level: Strenuous

Price: $4,999 per person

Double occupancy. Single supplement: $800 Prices subject to change for 2025

This is a photography tour , designed to photograph birds in a variety of settings. Focus will be on quality over quantity.

Sitting 350 miles into the Arctic Circle and the northernmost point in the United States, Barrow, AK is home to many highly sought, specialty species found only in the high arctic. The vast arctic tundra not only provides a beautiful scenery and stunning settings for photography, but it also provides a stage on which the arctic specialties perform amazing breeding displays. As you walk across the tundra, you’ll hear the calls of Long-tailed Ducks, the wailing of Pacific, Red-throated, and Yellow-billed Loons, and the loud chattering of a Dunlin or Semipalmated Sandpiper displaying. Witness the Pectoral Sandpiper with his chest puffed up, letting out an eerie low call to impress the females. Watch Parasitic, Pomarine, and Long-tailed Jaegers cruise over the vast expanses of openness in search of lemmings. Enjoy watching both Red and Red-necked Phalaropes spinning in almost any open water you can find. But best of all, take in the beauty of the stars of the tundra, Spectacled, King, Steller’s AND Common Eiders, all in one spot.

Barrow is the best place in North America to see and photograph these species. The endless summer days provide 24 hours of beautiful lighting, adding to the spectacle. The thawing of the tundra ponds in early summer brings birds north from the lower 48 and inland from the oceans all to pair up and nest. If you want to be captivated by eiders, serenaded by shorebirds, and photograph from the top of the country, Barrow is the spot for you.

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Barrow, Alaska: Top of the World Bird Photography - Map

Birds and More Seen on This Tour

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Birding Tour USA: Alaska – Utqiagvik (Barrow), Top of the World

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Dates and Costs

26 – 30 June 2025

Price: $3,550  / £2,915 / €3,445 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants

Single Supplement: $740  / £608 / €718

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

Recommended Field Guide

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Tour Details

Duration : 5 days Group Size : 4 – 8 Tour Start : Anchorage Tour End : Anchorage

Price includes:

Meals Accommodation Transport Guiding fees Native Land Birding Permit Flights Anchorage – Utqiagvik – Anchorage

Price excludes:

Flights to and from Anchorage Personal insurance Alcoholic beverages Gratuities Laundry service Personal expenses such as gifts Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog )

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Alaska: Utqiagvik (Barrow) – Top of the World June 2025

Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, is the northernmost city in the United States, located over 300 miles (480 kilometers) into the Arctic Circle. In the summer the sun never fully sets as the area experiences 24-hour daylight, an amazing phenomenon to see firsthand. Several species utilize this high-Arctic habitat for breeding, such as Steller’s , Spectacled , and King Eiders , Long-tailed Duck , Tundra Swan , and numerous shorebirds.

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This trip can be combined with our main tour Alaska: Vast Beauty , which immediately precedes it and covers many other amazing areas of Alaska.

Itinerary (5 days/4 nights)

Day 1. arrival in utqiagvik.

This extension trip will start in Anchorage at the tail end of our main Alaska tour as we take an afternoon flight to Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow). Once we arrive we will get settled in for the evening with potential for some birding, depending on time and conditions.

Overnight: Utqiagvik

Days 2 – 3. Birding the Top of the World

We will have the next two days to fully experience the culture and birding of Utqiagvik. With a large percentage of the population being Iñupiat, an indigenous Inuit ethnic group, there are many cultural aspects that give us a small insight into the life in the high Arctic. We will be birding around town, where the ice thaw can create nice ponds and lakes while also changing the habitat drastically day-to-day. These areas are famous for their small nesting populations of Steller’s , Spectacled , and King Eiders as well as other waterfowl, such as Tundra Swan , Brant Goose , and Long-tailed Duck . Some of these thaws will also create shallower waters that are utilized by numerous shorebirds like Red and Red-necked Phalaropes , Pectoral Sandpiper , Semipalmated Sandpiper , and Dunlin . We will also spend some time birding Point Barrow, where Pomarine Jaegers are staples, with Glaucous Gulls hanging around, and we may even have a shot at a drifting Yellow-billed Loon .  The combination of great birding, cultural experience, and the never-setting sun make Utqiagvik a memorable experience.

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Day 4. Back to Anchorage

We’ll spend the morning birding around town again for our final looks at several species before catching an afternoon flight back to Anchorage. Once we arrive we will shuttle to a hotel for the evening.

Overnight: Anchorage

Day 5. Departure – tour concludes

This morning we will use the hotel shuttle services to take us to the Anchorage airport to catch our various flights home. This concludes the extension tour to the unique area of Utqiagvik.

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Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

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Pomarine Jaeger

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Red-necked Phalarope

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Black-legged Kittiwake

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Red-throated Loon

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Semipalmated Plover

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American Golden Plover

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Glaucous Gull

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Lapland Longspur

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Arctic Tern

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Red Phalarope

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Utqiagvik (Barrow): Spring in the Arctic

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Birders head to Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) in the spring for several reasons: the chance to see all four species of eiders; to look for arctic specialties like Snowy Owl, Yellow-billed Loon and Buff-breasted Sandpiper; and to experience the cacophony of displaying shorebirds competing to pass on their genes during the brief Arctic summer—just to name a few. Of course, the possibility of seeing a polar bear and birding in the land of the midnight sun are top attractions as well. Follow the most intrepid avian breeders to the northernmost city in the U.S., where the 24-hour sunlight of mid-June thaws the tundra in fast forward, ice and snow rapidly giving way to an eruption of tundra plants and insects just as the birds arrive to breed.

The price includes three nights lodging in Utqiagvik, ground transportation in Utqiagvik; permits; WBA guide. Airfare to/from Utqiagvik is not included. Meals are not included. The trip begins and ends at the Utqiagvik Airport. Participants arrive throughout the day on June 20 (arrival day) and will be picked up at the airport in Utqiagvik by the tour leader. There are several flights daily from Anchorage. The tour ends on June 23rd with an evening flight back to Anchorage. Please contact us before booking your flights to/from Utqiagvik. Price is based on double occupancy. Single supplement is $300 ($100/ night).

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When and How to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

The 49th state is a prime place to experience the aurora borealis.

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Experiencing the aurora borealis may be easier than you think. While some travelers head to remote areas of Canada or Scandinavia to catch the elusive phenomenon, you can see the northern lights in Alaska without needing a passport. The Far North offers the best opportunities for aurora chasers, but Fairbanks, at a latitude of just under 65° N, also makes a great base. The real trick is finding clear skies.

The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is in the fall or spring. Auroras occur because of solar activity, so during the early part of the solar cycle, known as solar minimum, there is a smaller chance of experiencing a full-on auroral storm. As we move toward the peak of Solar Cycle 25 , the odds of seeing the northern lights increase.

The Best Time to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

Alaska's northern lights season is between late August and late April, peaking in March. However, the season is defined more by its long, dark nights than by solar activity.

Displays of the northern lights tend to intensify around the equinox months of September and March because Earth's tilt in relation to the sun means that the magnetic field of Earth and the solar wind are in sync. Plus, there's a higher likelihood of clear skies during spring, so March is the best month to maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights in Alaska.

If you can find dark and clear skies, be on alert from dusk onwards and you might get to see an aurora. According to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the best time to see the aurora is around midnight, give or take an hour. However, they can occur at any time.

Where Is the Best Place to See the Northern Lights in Alaska?

You'll have the best chance of seeing the northern lights in locations between 65° N and 70° N latitude. Fairbanks is about 198 miles south of the Arctic Circle and enjoys sporadic northern lights. It's not worth considering more southern destinations like Anchorage and Juneau, which see dramatically fewer displays.

Travelers wanting to increase their odds should head for the more remote northern villages of Coldfoot in the Yukon Territory or to Prudhoe Bay and Utqiaġvik in the extreme north. Unsurprisingly, Arctic Alaska is cold in winter (temperatures can drop to 30 degrees below zero). Below are some of the best places to spot the northern lights.

The old gold rush boomtown of Fairbanks is the undisputed capital of the northern lights hunt in Alaska. It's not the very best place for aurora viewing — it's just below the Arctic Circle — but auroras frequently occur here.

Its popularity among northern lights seekers has a lot to do with its accessibility. There are frequent flights and plenty of options for accommodations. Good vantage points in the vicinity include Cleary Summit, about 20 miles from Fairbanks, which is easy to get to and offers parking and a solid view of the horizon.

The Geophysical Institute also recommends Haystack Mountain and Ester, Wickersham and Murphy domes on its website. Chena Lake Recreation Area is a popular place to look for reflections in the water (you can park your car near the jetty). At nearby Chena Hot Springs Resort , you can even watch the show from an outdoor hot tub. By day, try your hand at either cross-country skiing or ice fishing through pre-drilled ice holes.

Once a gold mining settlement, this Alaskan Arctic destination is now little more than a truck stop at 67° N latitude on the famed Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. It's a prime northern lights observation location, largely because of the rustic Coldfoot Camp in the Brooks Mountain Range on the edge of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve , the northernmost national park in the U.S. Many aurora adventure tours take guests here, and to Wiseman about 15 miles north, for the high chances of a northern lights display. Another option nearby is the fly-in luxury Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge . Coldfoot is 250 miles north of Fairbanks and 60 miles above the Arctic Circle.

This small town, formerly called Barrow, is on the extreme northern edge of Alaska at 71° N latitude and is home to the Top of the World Hotel , which organizes tours and outdoor adventures connected to Indigenous Iñupiat culture. You can also visit the Iñupiat Heritage Center to learn about bowhead whale hunting and traditional crafts. Alaska Airlines flies to the town's Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport from Anchorage.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Spanning 13.2 million acres, this national park is the largest protected reserve in the United States. Travelers can bed down at the 14-person Ultima Thule Lodge for a wild adventure facilitated by small aircraft and filled with glacier trekking, rafting, and (of course) waiting for the northern lights to flicker across the sky.

Northern Lights Forecasts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a Space Weather Prediction Center , which is a great resource for a short-term forecast of northern lights activity. Fairbanks also happens to be the headquarters of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, which issues a nightly forecast on Aurora viewing alongside a 27-day forecast.

SolarHam gives a reliable three-day geomagnetic forecast that's often used by aurora hunters, while the Aurora Forecast app shows travelers the position of the auroral oval around the Arctic Circle. It also indicates the probability of seeing the northern lights where you are (green, not so much; red, and they're probably happening right above you).

Northern Lights Tours in Alaska

You'll likely get to Coldfoot on an organized tour, and if you fly to Utqiaġvik, your accommodations will also act as a local tour guide. If you're going to be in Fairbanks, however, you have excursion choices to make. The Northern Alaska Tour Company runs round-trip van tours 60 miles north of Fairbanks to the town of Joy for an increased chance of seeing the northern lights. During the aurora season, 1st Alaska Tours offers evening trips to Chena Hot Springs, about 60 miles north of downtown Fairbanks, and to Murphy Dome, one of the highest peaks in the Fairbanks area, which provides a 360-degree view of the horizon.

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    Alaska: Utqiagvik (Barrow) - Top of the World June 2025 . Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, is the northernmost city in the United States, located over 300 miles (480 kilometers) into the Arctic Circle. In the summer the sun never fully sets as the area experiences 24-hour daylight, an amazing phenomenon to see firsthand.

  22. Utqiagvik (Barrow): Spring in the Arctic

    A stunning female Red Phalarope. Birders head to Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) in the spring for several reasons: the chance to see all four species of eiders; to look for arctic specialties like Snowy Owl, Yellow-billed Loon and Buff-breasted Sandpiper; and to experience the cacophony of displaying shorebirds competing to pass on their ...

  23. When and How to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

    This small town, formerly called Barrow, is on the extreme northern edge of Alaska at 71° N latitude and is home to the Top of the World Hotel, which organizes tours and outdoor adventures ...

  24. Utqiagvik (Formerly Barrow), Alaska

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