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I would like to drive to Barrow, Alaska. Mainly because it is the northernmost inhabited place still on the north American continent.

However, I understand there are no regular roads going to the place. Although the normal way of getting there is by either airplane (in winter) or ship (in summer), I've read some info that says it should be possible to get there by four-wheel drive, but none go into any detail.

So, the big question is: Can one drive to Barrow with a 4x4?

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I've been eyeing up a trip here for a while - ever since this question –  Mark Mayo Jun 18 '12 at 17:05
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I live in Alaska and have been wanting to do this exact segment of a trip as well for the same reasons. I have friends who have decades of experience working for the oil companies on the Slope and Prudhoe Bay. The journey by any sort of 4x4 vehicle is impossible for two reasons:

  • The area is part of the oil fields and is secured. Company security will prevent you from entering the area and escort you off if they catch you.
  • It's basically an impassable boggy swamp in summer.

If you want to do it overland, as I do, the only way to do it is in winter. Park up your vehicle in Deadhorse, fly into Barrow and convince some of the locals to take you on snow machines. It's an approximately 300+ km journey, so the snow machines will need to tow extra fuel etc. My friends (again, decades of experience on the Slope) consider the chance of finding someone to take you pretty good if you're offering something like $2,000 for the help.

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Thanks for the answer! Would the oil field security be less strict in winter (less environmental issues)? –  Jacco Sep 10 '12 at 5:43
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Unfortunately, according to Wikitravel's entry:

With the exception of an annual summer barge service, Barrow is a fly-in-only city. The airport, Wiley-Post Will Rogers Memorial Airport, is located directly south of the city.

So looks like the ship you mention in summer is the only non-air way of getting in. Unless you go extreme 4WD, like the Top Gear episode where they drive to the North Pole...

From RoadTripAmerica.com:

Barrow, BTW, is well over 200 miles from Deadhorse and the end of the Dalton Highway. I don't see how you could possibly expect to get there via any wheeled vehicle, frankly.

Certainly many other results in a google search tell you how it's impossible.

However, 8 days before the Wright Brothers flew, the NY Times said it'd be a million years before anyone did it...

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Good answer, not what I wanted to hear :( I've seen tracks on satellite photos, so at least some people are moving between the settlements in between Dead Horse and Barrow. Anyhow, sounds like I've found myself a goal for an expedition on a later date, not as part of a world trip. –  Jacco Jun 19 '12 at 6:07
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