End of the Road


The northernmost extremity of the US (though not, as locals sometimes claim, North America) is Point Barrow, but it's tough to get to this narrow strip of land. Tours drive almost all the way, but the last two to three miles is a beach full of soft, sandy sinkholes. Rather, drive to the end of the road and enjoy the surreal scenery.

For what it's worth, getting to the end of the road still feels like driving to the end of the world. You roll up a cold, windswept, lonely road, flanked by the occasional shack and 'palm trees' fashioned from whale baleen. To the north, you'll see the Arctic Ocean, shaded from slate gray to icy black and breaking on the pebbly shore – assuming the water isn't filled with ice pack. Occasionally, you'll see a walrus carcass swelling on the beach. Point Barrow is roughly 12 miles north of Utqiaġvik proper.

We can't stress this enough: do not attempt to drive all the way to Point Barrow. Once the road ends, driving conditions become extremely hazardous. Locals know their way through the area, but we saw tourists sink their rented SUVs into the sand; they had to be towed out, and at no small expense. Your best way out to the point is to make friends with a local who will give you a ride. We can't recommend hiking from the end of the road because of frequent polar bear activity in the area.

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