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Barrow in the late Spring? How about the rest of AK?

Barrow in the late Spring? How about the rest of AK?

Old Dec 1, 13, 10:20 pm
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Barrow in the late Spring? How about the rest of AK?

I'm planning my 3rd trip to Alaska next year. I've already booked JFK-ANC (need to get to JFK yet) and I'll be departing the Thursday of the last week of May and returning the first Saturday of June. Anyhoo, I need to swim in the Arctic to get all of the world's oceans under my belt (I have 3 of the 4 due just to regular travel so I figured I'd get the last one too) and I think Barrow would be the perfect place to do it.

I'd like to go out to the point and check out other sites while I'm there but I don't plan on staying long. I assume there is 24 hours of light at that time or close to it. Is one day enough at that time of year or should I plan on two? Any recommendations on what to do?

Also, can anyone recommend what I should do for the rest of the time I'm in Alaska? On my first trip I spent parts of 3 days in Denali and on my last trip, I spent 5 days in Homer (fishing as well as hiking across the bay) with a visit to Seward.

Also, I'm going alone at this point until I can find a companion to go with. That is if I find one.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 3:41 am
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Well, one potential problem for swimming in the ocean here at the end of May is how do you find any open water! Normally (which means it could be different, but that would be exceedingly odd) there is shore ice for at least two or three miles out from Barrow until late in June.

And that ice is commonly not safe to walk on at that time etiher, so it isn't likely that you'd be able to find some convenient place and just hike out to where there is open water. Slipping through a crack on the way out could be serious. Regardless, getting totally wet a couple miles out on the ice is pretty serious even when intentional.

The best bet is to wait until mid-July, or at least late June. Around the first of August would be a very good time. There will almost certainly be lots of open water well into November, and probably in December too (there's a bit of shore ice today, but finding a place where with access wouldn't be too hard).

Keep in mind that the water temperature is in the range of 33F to 36F, and in late May that might be the high temperature for the air during the day too. It is unlikely to get up to 40F in May or the first week in June, but it could.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 5:45 am
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Thanks for the heads up. I guess I'll skip Barrow until later in the year.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 8:23 am
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You might be able to get into the Arctic Ocean in Kotzebue, but then again it might just come to you.

Originally Posted by yohanson View Post
Also, can anyone recommend what I should do for the rest of the time I'm in Alaska? On my first trip I spent parts of 3 days in Denali and on my last trip, I spent 5 days in Homer (fishing as well as hiking across the bay) with a visit to Seward.

Also, I'm going alone at this point until I can find a companion to go with. That is if I find one.
Probably I'd rent a car and take the Richardson Hwy to Valdez, one of the most beautiful drives in the state. You could then take the ferry back to Whittier - it's a great loop trip from Anchorage.

Have you done any flightseeing trips previously? If not, maybe now? IMO getting up in the air in a light plane in Alaska is something every visitor should do at some point - you don't see that much from the road system.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 8:57 am
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Have you done any flightseeing trips previously? If not, maybe now? IMO getting up in the air in a light plane in Alaska is something every visitor should do at some point - you don't see that much from the road system.
As much as I love getting up in the air in small planes in Alaska, I have to disagree with your comment that " you don't see that much from the road system." I know you are biased based on your years of living in Alaska, but that type of general comment is patently inaccurate. Perhaps better would be, "You can see a lot more when you get off the road system." Or, "Getting off the road system can be an experience and an adventure." But I have seen TONS from the road system (and seen quite a bit off the road system too.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
As much as I love getting up in the air in small planes in Alaska, I have to disagree with your comment that " you don't see that much from the road system." I know you are biased based on your years of living in Alaska, but that type of general comment is patently inaccurate. Perhaps better would be, "You can see a lot more when you get off the road system." Or, "Getting off the road system can be an experience and an adventure." But I have seen TONS from the road system (and seen quite a bit off the road system too.
Of course. But remember "IMO" means "in my opinion."
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Old Dec 3, 13, 1:06 am
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Of course. But remember "IMO" means "in my opinion."
I'm less humble about it. Spending a fortune to see the part of Alaska that is most similar to what can be found in the Lower-48 isn't smart, even if it is interesting. Getting away from the road system is really and truely different. That's the smart thing to do when visiting Alaska.

Yes I am biased by decades of living in Alaska. Out of almost 50 years, the middle 20 was on the road system and the rest has been in the bush. I've lived for years in a small villlage. I spent a few years being paid to travel to villages, and have been to most of the villages in the Interior, Western, and Arctic Alaska. One thing I can absolutely atest to in addition to the above, is that visiting small villages, even for significant periods of time, is never quite the same as living there full time. Even people who spend decades living in towns like Kotzebue and Barrow never quite understand what the smaller villages are, and can't understand the attitude of people who live there.

Last edited by apaflo; Dec 3, 13 at 2:05 am
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Old Dec 3, 13, 7:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
You might be able to get into the Arctic Ocean in Kotzebue, but then again it might just come to you.



Probably I'd rent a car and take the Richardson Hwy to Valdez, one of the most beautiful drives in the state. You could then take the ferry back to Whittier - it's a great loop trip from Anchorage.

Have you done any flightseeing trips previously? If not, maybe now? IMO getting up in the air in a light plane in Alaska is something every visitor should do at some point - you don't see that much from the road system.
The Valdez idea sounds good. No, I haven't done any flightseeing trips in Alaska. That also might be doable.
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Old Dec 4, 13, 12:26 pm
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I went swimming in Barrow and spent time on the beach on July 29, and temps. were still in the mid-40s.

A visit is well worthwhile.
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Old Dec 30, 13, 11:13 pm
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FWIW, in my experience, that timeframe is also a bit too early for Kotzebue Sound.
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Old Dec 31, 13, 10:42 pm
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I would go for 24 hours in Barrow. You can walk the whole town twice in that time, and take a shuttle to the ocean.We just waded in a bit...no swimming. I definitely agree with going in the summer, and recommend the King Eider Inn.
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