Visiting Alaska is an exciting experience and one most should add to their bucket list. Barrow (or Utqiagvik) is one of the largest Eskimo settlements in the state and one of the oldest inhabited town sites in the country.
Its culture, as well as its status as a hub community for outlying villages, makes it a prime destination for those that are venturing to that part of the United States.
Find out more about what to expect if you plan to make Barrow your next vacation stop.
Hunting is a popular sport in Barrow. Its Eskimo name means, “the place where we hunt snowy owls”. True to its name, owls are a popular species when it comes to hunting the game that provides nourishment for its 4,000 plus residents. Other animals that are often hunted in Barrow include whales, seals, walrus, caribou and ducks.
If you come to Barrow at the right time of year, you may be lucky enough to watch the local men embark on their annual whale hunt. For the hunt, a whaling director directs a crew of hunters. If they are successful in catching their game, they hold a festival called Nalukataq when the season ends in May. During the festival, hunters share whale meat and sections of skin and blubber known as "muktak" with the whole community.
While in Barrow, there are a number of places you may want to visit. These include the Inupiate Heritage Center where you can purchase arts and crafts like baleen boats, etched baleen, carved ivory masks, parkas, fur mittens and other goods that represent the resident’s heritage.
During the summer, tours are available. A tour will take you through Barrow, offering you sites of polar bears and snowy owls. The tour guides will educate you on the area’s traditional culture.
The Cape Smythe Whaling and Trading Station in nearby Browerville is also a site worth seeing. Built in 1893, it is the oldest frame building in the Arctic.
The Birnirk archaeological site is approximately two miles north of the Barrow air field. It is representative of the Birnirk culture which existed from about 500 to 900 AD. Currently, it consists of 16 dwelling mounds that are considered to be a key link between the prehistoric cultures of Alaska and Canada.
Barrow is also the site of the fatal plane crash involving Will Rogers and Wiley Post. Back in 1935, the famous pilot and America humorist were planning a stop in Barrow on their trip from Fairbanks to Siberia. Unfortunately, the two did not make it. In 1982, two monuments were erected at the site of the crash in 1982, located across from the airport. This memorial makes for a solemn place for reflection and offers visitors a chance to pay tribute to these great men.
The Alaskan culture is unlike any other and a visit to this part of the country will provide you with an experience you’ll never forget.
Barrow is a prime destination in the state offering unique sites and activities that will last a lifetime.