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Overview

North America's northernmost outpost, Barrow (pop. 4,000) is the largest Inupiat Eskimo settlement in Alaska. Because of its location at 71° latitude — 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle — the town experiences extremes in weather and light. Summers are brief and intense, with 12 weeks from early May through July when the sun never sets. Conversely, the sun dips below the horizon November 18 or 19, and is not seen again until January 22 or 23 — a total of 64 days without the sun. Barrow weather is harsh. Even in July, the average low temperature is barely over freezing, while winters can be below zero for weeks at a stretch. All buildings ...

North America's northernmost outpost, Barrow (pop. 4,000) is the largest Inupiat Eskimo settlement in Alaska. Because of its location at 71° latitude — 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle — the town experiences extremes in weather and light. Summers are brief and intense, with 12 weeks from early May through July when the sun never sets. Conversely, the sun dips below the horizon November 18 or 19, and is not seen again until January 22 or 23 — a total of 64 days without the sun. Barrow weather is harsh. Even in July, the average low temperature is barely over freezing, while winters can be below zero for weeks at a stretch. All buildings and facilities (including sewer pipes) are above ground to keep them from melting the permafrost. Barrow's main attractions include the fascinating Inupiat Heritage Center (operated in conjunction with the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park), and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium facility, where researchers study the arctic and global warming. Several companies offer summertime package trips from Fairbanks that include air transport, a tour of town, a blanket toss demonstration, and lodging. Barrow has several restaurants, including Pepe's North of the Border, serving the farthest-north Mexican meals anywhere. Polar bears are frequently sighted in the fall, when they feed on whale carcasses near Point Barrow.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: On the northern border of Alaska, in the North Slope Borough; Barrow is the northernmost settlement in the United States.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer is brief, but provides your best opportunity to enjoy the midnight sun and relatively mild weather. Spring and fall whaling are major events for local peoples and fascinating for others.