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?


3 Answers 3


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.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer! Would the oil field security be less strict in winter (less environmental issues)?
    – Jacco
    Sep 10, 2012 at 5:43

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...

  • 1
    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, 2012 at 6:07

Yes you can drive between Barrow and Prudhoe Bay with proper permits. See below. 11/16/2015 www.adn.com

Arnie Arey and his specially outfitted truck, pictured here with other vehicles, haul newly purchased trucks and other cargo by sled, hundreds of miles along the snow and ice between Prudhoe Bay and Barrow, providing a winter link to the state's road system.

Once, around New Year’s, he hit soft sea ice along the coast and gunned his truck onto the beach.

“The ice broke behind me,” he said.

He said he’s getting ready to renew his permits and should be hauling cargo next month. He’s already got some work lined up, including with an oil field service company that wants him to haul freight to a remote site.

His business pays well enough that he takes his summers off, leaving time for hunting and camping with his kids.

“I love it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” he said.

Source URL: http://www.adn.com/article/20151115/these-real-ice-road-truckers-drive-across-sea-ice-and-tundra-alaskas-north-slope Links:

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