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Point Barrow Ice Camps - The Greatest Place to Stand in the Arctic

Updated on March 30, 2012
The Alaskan Raven and Two Caribou.
The Alaskan Raven and Two Caribou. | Source

Mission to the Arctic

Point Barrow is the point farthest north in Alaska and the United States, located on the Arctic Ocean at the site of much undersea scientific research. The US Navy has operated ice camps in support of Arctic research since the 1990s, in order to study a variety of topics. However, in the 2010s along with Antarctica, the Arctic ice camps are essential for determining whether humans can survive as a small group in isolation in a cold place for extended periods. This is important to the Mission to Mars initiative promoted by the White House.

One ice station or camp that is 150 miles north of Point Barrow in the Arctic Sea, APLIS, is maintained by the US Navy Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington. It has been made up of heated tents and prefabricated plywood housing and named lce Camp Lyon (after Waldo K. Lyon, Father of the Arctic Submarine). This place is the R & D hub for submarine related missions and technologies. Its mission has included substantial mapping of the undersea regions in the Arctic and examination of ice sheets. Staff also look for amphipods under the ice, creatures that are "differently footed, having more than one type of foot" - crustaceans that have no shells.

The frame of a wooden, Inuit umiak boat, with whale bones found on the frozen shoreline of the Arctic Ocean at Point Barrow, Alaska. April 1999.
The frame of a wooden, Inuit umiak boat, with whale bones found on the frozen shoreline of the Arctic Ocean at Point Barrow, Alaska. April 1999. | Source

Palm Trees in Point Barrow, Alaska - True!

Other studies target ice melt in the Arctic, which has caused the shoreline of northern Alaska at certain pints to recede. In fact, Inuit and Inupiat residents and related Native Americans have needed to move their villages at least 40 miles inland in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Point Barrow, Alaska is famous also for its drive to save California gray whales in 1988, when Inupiat residents and others carved many large breathing holes in the ice in the nearby Beaufort Sea for them to rest on their journeys.

The Top of the USA

Point Barrow AK:
Point Barrow, AK, USA

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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, North Slope, AK, USA

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Bering Strait:
Bering Strait

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Point Barrow, Alaska community.
Point Barrow, Alaska community. | Source
Hopson Whaling Crew, Point Barrow.
Hopson Whaling Crew, Point Barrow. | Source

List of Greats

Point Barrow is highlighted in a list of greats that includes the Top 100 Greatest Places to Stand in the USA. This is a list maintained at the website, based on a voting survey of readers in 2009. Readers also elected the Top 100 in UK and Canada.

On the American Top 100 list, Point Barrow is listed as Number 94 for readers' opinions about the scenery, wildlife, and location at the northernmost point in Alaska. They didn't even know about the awesome undersea and martian-living type research ongoing at Point Barrow, Alaska. That makes the place even greater to visit and photograph.

The freezing waters of the nearby seas are the travel lanes of Bowhead Whales, whose bones you can see in attached photographs above and below. While archaeological expeditions to this are ahave acquired artifacts of the Alaskan Native Nations only to a time of 1,000 years before European advent, additional older artifacts are surely below the current ice surfaces and some already washed out to sea with the eroding shorelines on the North Slope. Nuvuk was a place on land at or a few miles north yet of Point Barrow, but it is largely under water today. Burial mounds are still being uncovered with regularity.

Point Barrow is also a Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) site for the United Nations, with personnel and equipment used to monitor the Earth's atmosphere.

Walrus Sunbathing on the Beach at Point Barrow

Polar Bear and cub walk within 200m of a ship near Point Barrow in the Beaufort Sea.
Polar Bear and cub walk within 200m of a ship near Point Barrow in the Beaufort Sea. | Source

Additional Attractions

Ilisagvik College is a two-year tribal college. It provides higher education for academics, vocational training, and technical education with a goal of matching local workforce needs. The school is committed to the Inupiat and related Alaskan Native Nations traditional cultures and languages.One of the favorite activities of students is ice bowling outdoors on well built lanes of ice. One of the classes and its instructors also helped to build an energy efficient cold-weather house of 1000 ft2 for less than $150,000. They also developed a new class they call Sustainable Northern Shelter Construction .

Tour of Point Barrow


Perhaps surprisingly, the Point Barrow area includes job listings for 129 positions in the middle of August 2011. Hiring companies include:

  • Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation - Native based company with several lines of industry.
  • Schneider National
  • Mas Medical Staffing
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Azteria
  • Alaska Tribal Health System/ Indian Health Service
  • Homeland Security
  • WHpacific/NANA - Oil
  • Travelmax Nursing - Travel Nursing

Point Barrow Refuge Station in Barrow, North Slope Borough in Alaska. US National Historic Landmark and northernmost city in Alaska.
Point Barrow Refuge Station in Barrow, North Slope Borough in Alaska. US National Historic Landmark and northernmost city in Alaska. | Source

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