Alaska’s North Slope

Published: May 5, 2016

Few regions in Alaska embody as many radically extreme lifestyles and conditions as Alaska’s North Slope.

Located between two unforgiving settings – the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Brooks Range mountains to the south – Alaska’s North Slope is located in Alaska’s Far North region and is home to big polar bears and whales, even bigger oilfields and business, thousands of miles of barren tundra atop permafrost and a scattering of Alaska Native communities that balance subsistence living and modern American life. On the North Slope, the sun doesn’t set for around 80 days in the summer and doesn’t rise for nearly 70 days in the winter. Oh, and it gets cold here. Really cold. As in SO cold that the temperature stays below freezing for months.


All of these qualities and more make the North Slope a unique and special Alaska destination. How many travelers can say they’ve reached the most northern point in America, Point Barrow, just 1,300 miles from the North Pole, and dipped their toes in the Arctic Ocean (when it isn’t frozen, that is)? How many wildlife enthusiasts can see a polar bear roaming in its natural environment? How many visitors get the opportunity to experience an Alaska Native community like Barrow, which offers rich culture and warm residents? And how many explorers can claim they drove (or rode) the Dalton Highway all the way to Deadhorse, the oil-producing hub of Alaska’s economy and the starting point of the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline System?


There aren’t many roads here and the weather is often rough, but traveling to the North Slope is surprisingly easy. There are regular commercial flights to Barrow, the region’s largest town of around 4,000 and home to some impressive Alaska Native history, collections of art and artifacts, and numerous cultural events. Tour operators there will ensure you get the very most out of your northern exposure.