Most people live their entire lifetime without ever seeing the Arctic Ocean. So if you come this far, you might as well get your feet wet.
The Arctic Ocean is completely frozen most of the year, but in summer the ice around the shore thaws for several miles out. The beach is comprised of small smooth pebbles, and the water is somewhat warmer than ice. Just kick off your shoes, roll up your pants, and do it! You'll have bragging rights for the rest of your life.
Directions: Keep going north until you run out of dry land.
- Adventure Travel
Along the windswept coast of the Chukchi Sea, about 13 miles south of Barrow, America's beloved humorist, Will Rogers, along with pilot Wiley Post, died when their small aircraft crashed On August 15, 1935. The adventurous duo were seeking a better route to Siberia via Alaska. ID tags from the plane can be seen at the old Whaling Captain's Station on the Bowersville side of Barrow.
The original monument is located at the crash site, in the area known as "Hollywood," because the Walt Disney movie, "Track of the Giant Snow Bear" was filmed there. It can only be reached on foot, by four-wheeler, or snow machine.
This Will Rogers - Wiley Post Monument is about a block east of the airport, in front of the visitors center. It is from near this spot that their bodies were shipped back home for burial.
Address: Ogrook Street at Momegana Street
Directions: Across from the Cape Smyth air terminal, next to the Visitor's Center.
- Historical Travel
One of the more enjoyable stops we made on our tour of Barrow was to the Inupiat Heritage Center. There we viewed the museum exhibits of Inupiat culture and history, both human and natural, especially as it relates to whaling. We also watched and participated in a lively presentation of native music, dance and games. Programs are held virtually every afternoon. Following the entertainment, native artists and craftspersons display their work, which may be purchased.
The Center is an affiliated area of the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park in New Bedford, MA. It is owned by the North Slope Borough and managed by Ilisagvik College.
It this photo young Inupiat men and women are presenting one of many dances to the music of walrus skin drums and chanting. This was a highlight of the visit to Barrow.
Adult - $5.00
Ages 15-17 - $2.00
Ages 7-14 - $1.00
Children and Seniors - free
Address: 5421 North Star Street, Barrow, AK99723
- Theater Travel
- Arts and Culture
The Naval Arctic Research Laboratory (NARL) was established by the U.S. Navy in 1944, near Point Barrow on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. At it's peak, in 1966, the laboratory employed more than 200 scientists, however it had served its purpose by 1984, and was closed. The facility was then turned over to Barrow's Ukpeaquik Inupiat Corporation (UIC) which converted the building pictured here into a Science Center.
It was very interesting to visit the Center and view a number of scientific exhibits and posters which outline various research projects. In addition to these exhibits, the center also hosts the Barrow Birding Center and the Barrow-Toolik Schoolyard Project, which gives public presentations concerning ongoing research, especially geared toward sutdents, every Saturday.
Address: 360 NARL, Barrow, AK 99723
Directions: Four miles northeast of Barrow.
- Study Abroad
This arch, made from the ribs of a bowhead whale, is the signature spot in Barrow. It is a symbolic gateway to the Arctic Ocean as much as the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River in St. Louis is an entrance to the American West.
I was excited to have my picture made here, even in the fog, because I had seen the arch on virtually every article and brochure I had read about Barrow in preparation of my trip. There is nothing particularly remarkable about the arch except that it symbolizes the dependence upon the whale for the very existence and survival of the Inupiat Eskimos who have survived and thrived in this harsh environment for five thousand years.
Directions: On the shore of the Arctic Ocean
Point Barrow is the northern most point in North American that is accessible by road. It is only a few miles north from Barrow town centre. It is adviced to travel there by public transport. Barrow is covered by snow all year round. The road does not really reach to Pt. Barrow so the guide prepared a sign for our Kodak moment.
Inupiat Heritage center and Museum is a new spot for learning more about the Inupiat culture. You have the chance to view and take part in traditional Inupiat dancing performed by Inupiat kids. The kids perform at culture centre part time. As the law do not allow children to work, tips to them are greatly appreaciated. Also they sell hand made crafts. One of the lady showed us how to make snowshoes She still makes them for her grandchildren. They must feel warm.
The image I have from the air shows that the Artic Ocean in July, 1960 was still full of ice. My Aunt Margaret poses for a photo on the beach without a jacket, although the native boy is wearing one. Note that she is wearing a skirt and probably 3" heals, which as typical for her travel at the time. (My Uncle Chris typically wore a suit and tie when he traveled.) Note the ice in the water beyond the gravelly beach. Sorry the images aren't better, but between the old slide, my slide scanner, and VT colors, it's hard to get better quality. The link below is to a high school student paper of some interest. Written and posted by several students, it documents the global warming problem as it affects Barrow, Alaska. The National Geographic link provides abbreviated description of the climate change with an image.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Here's the approach to Runway 6 at Barrow, on a clear day. (400 ft ceilings)
FYI: Runways are numbered, based on the approximate compass heading with which they are oriented. ie: Runway 6 has a compass heading from 055 to 064 degrees.
Here are the images of town in 1960. Note the unpaved road, the waterfront, and the "shopping mall". At this time all lumber had to be brought in by ship. The local church had a Cessna that provided medical and professional transport for the church. I'm not sure how my aunt and uncle arrived, but they almost certain came by plane.
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Bowhead Whale jawbone arch, by two skin-canoes (winterized here - without the skin) on the Arctic Ocean. The two white specs on the horizon are the beginning of the ice-pack that is coming in for the winter.
It gets pretty cold there. I was there in April and I was freezing and I live in a pretty cold winter environment. I suppose something you could do would be to go to the highschool gym and work out. I never made it there myself. You really need to know the locals in this town. :)
Here is the geographical top of the USA. the cold wind is getting me hard, and I am chanting, "Get the picture, just get the picture." Behind me is the frozen Arctic Ocean. Beyond that is the North Pole, the real one. We saw a polar bear near here trying to get some of the whale remains left here from the annual whale hunt that the natives make. We were taken to the point in a special vehicle that had tracks instead of tires. In winter, you cannot simply drive up there. The point is a few miles north of the town itself.
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
They get you out on the Tundra in some unique vehicles. Hopefully you'll get to see some Polar Bears.
Point Barrow is about 6km north of town. It's the Northernmost point in the US.
I now regret not going up there.