Deadhorse, AK : Gateway to the North Slope

July 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm (Alaska, Travel)


Welcome to Deadhorse, North Slope Borough, population of 1.  Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration.  As the hub for travel to and from Alaska’s North Slope oil and gas provinces, there are probably a couple of thousand people in this little town at any given time.  Officially though, with only one permanent residential address currently on record, population 1.



If you’ve  been to Deadhorse, you would understand why so few are keen to stay for the long haul.  A staging/storage location for operators and companies servicing North Slope production and pipeline operations, it is more like an oil camp than an actual town.  There are few creature comforts here; there’s a general store for sundries, a post office, a couple of accommodation blocks (I’m told the Aurora hotel does the best meal in town), with the rest of the area made up of sprawling industrial lots, full of pre-fab storage sheds and more trucks, tractors, bobcats and tyres than you can count.




I can only imagine what it would be like in the depths of an Artic winter and the image is a bleak one.  Did I also mention the town is dry?  “All that far and still no bar” is what those who frequent Deadhorse will wryly tell you.  Needless to say, those flying home after their hitch make the most of their 2-drink quota.

Still, I think an Alaskan experience would be incomplete without seeing this, literally the northern-most outpost of the Last Frontier and a gateway to the operations that produce Alaska’s lifeblood – Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America, it’s sprawling facilities all built on man-made gravel pads atop the arctic tundra.  The bad news for the general traveler is that Deadhorse is pretty much the last stop on the journey north.  Despite being only 10 miles from the Arctic Ocean, all roads north from here are private, so those planning to roadtrip up to catch a glimpse of the Beaufort Sea will need to reconsider. Security guided bus tours are the only way to gain access to the water and oil field facilities, and there is no guarantee that access will be permitted on a given day.  If you’re lucky, this will be the only place where you can swim in the Arctic Ocean, so take the (quick) plunge and join the Polar Bear Club.  Even if Deadhorse is your final destination, guarantee that this spectacularly depressing little town will be memorable as one of the strangest places you will ever visit.







  1. Pete said,

    I notice the last picture is from a plane, I truly hope you drove up and experienced the last truly remote highways in America. Thanks for the posting about Deadhorse.

    • egg tarts and apple pie said,

      Thanks for the msg Pete 🙂 Unfortunately, I was only there for a day trip this time, so flying was the only option. I would love to do the drive up from Fairbanks next time. And jump in that ocean!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: