The Last Frontier: Alaska’s icy Arctic region does full justice to its moniker. Those who venture here will find themselves literally at the ends of the earth, in a frozen tundra whose snowy crags and vast polar deserts betoken a landscape of strange, otherworldly beauty.
Perched above the Arctic Circle, at 66º33´ north of the equator, Arctic Alaska is a place where even the everyday is uncanny. Midnight suns and long polar nights, solitary wolves and thundering herds of caribou: this is a place of extremes, of rushing rivers and huge, empty expanses, of towing crags that rise up along lonely dirt highways, and pink-and-blue twilights that melt into spectral Northern Lights.
Artic Alaska is home to some of the continent’s starkest, most remote landscapes. In Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, one can glimpse the peninsula where humans first passed from Asia to the Americas 10,000 years ago. Meanwhile, further east, long-haulers can ply the 414-mile Dalton Highway to its terminus in Deadhorse, dipping their toes in the Arctic Ocean at icy Prudhoe Bay.
The region’s history is no less arresting than its geography. In the west, the chief inhabitants are the Iñupiat, an indigenous tribe whose oral traditions, rooted in sea ice, transmit a complex heritage from generation to generation. By contrast, in the city of Nome, abandoned dredges and steam engines testify to the frenzy of the turn-of-the century Gold Rush, even as the town’s streets fill each March with mushers scrambling for the finish line of the 1,000-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
Alaska’s Arctic region is a place only the truly adventurous will ever visit. What they’ll discover there, however, is an experience found nowhere else on Earth.