Recommendations on Arctic travel?

I’d love to travel to the Arctic sometime (US or Canada). Has anyone travelled up to the FAR north, such as communities on the Arctic Ocean, or in the Northwest Passage? I’ve traveled in both countries but have never been to the far north.

What are some good spots in terms of ease of travel, cost, and awe of the experience?

I’d love to see the midnight sun. How cold (well, relative to New York, Montreal, or Chicago) is it generally in midsummer? Is snow and ice common?

I am heading up for 13 days next week - I would be happy to email you what I experienced, PM me if you’d like that.

I am going both to the Arctic and the Sub-Arctic.

I spent a few years on Kodiak. While we never had true 24 hour daylight the sky became darkish around 1:30 am and the stars would be waning at 4:30. Average temps on the island were in the 50’s generally, isolated snow patches in deep shadows. Anchorage, just 250 miles NE stays light all night, with the benefit of much warmer temps. Further north and I could guess, but others will be in soon.

I drove up to Inuvik back in 99, just after the summer solstice. It was quite warm, fairly buggy, the midnight sun looked like about 3:00 in the afternoon. Inuvik itself isn’t that interesting, but the drive up and back was lots of fun (if you like long road trips). Tons of wildlife and unspoiled mountains and forest.

From there, hired a float plane, and went out to Ivvavik national park and Herschel Island. The cost of that one day was about 1/3 the total cost of the trip, but it was easily worth it. Seeing seals on the ice in the artic ocean, DEW line radar sites, musk ox and arctic rivers.

I haven’t made it to the far north yet, but we did drive from Calgary to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories last summer. It was an interesting experience overall, and I’m glad we went. Some musings on the trip; trees get very short when you go north. There is A LOT of standing water in the tundra. People drive very slowly around Yellowknife. Yellowknife is basically a maritime town, due to being on that huge friggin’ lake (Great Slave Lake), which was very unexpected to us. People were surprisingly unfriendly in the north; we felt very much like unwelcome outsiders. The food was almost uniformly bad and overpriced. The hotels are very expensive for what you get (a basic room that would cost you $50 a night in the US would cost you $135 or so there). The scenery was not as great as we expected; I loved the Great Slave Lake and also the Lesser Slave Lake, and the Twin Falls Territorial Park with its stunning, rootbeer-coloured falls.

You should definitely go - there were any number of negative things with our trip, but I’m glad we had the experience.

If you just want to see the midnight sun specifically, in Europe it is much warmer. Scandinavia sits nicely by the Gulf stream and about a third of it has midnight sun. Compared to same latitudes in North America, lots of roads and airfields and hotels.

Of course, it might be too full of tourists to your liking.

What, no love for MacMurdo?

Outside North America, you could stay at the Radisson at Longyearben on Spitzbergen.

That’s Antarctic, not Arctic.

I also drove to Inuvik and also up to Prudhoe Bay. Both places are blah unless you want to just take a dip in the Arctic Ocean.

For the money, I’d suggest going to Kaktovik, Barter Island in the fall, after the whaling season, but before the ice comes completely in. That’s when the polar bears come onto land from the icepack to feed on the whale carcasses. The accommodations at The Waldo Arms are spartan, but comfortable for a few days, and the food is decent. The place is basically a bunch of metal storage units that have been welded together and finished (sort of) inside.

You can only get to Barter Island by air, from Fairbanks. But before you go, you need to contact somebody about a tour for the bears. I don’t recall who we used, but he had an old 4WD schoolbus that he used to take tourists out to the bone pile. Any tour business in that part of the world is going to be a shoestring operation, unless you go to Churchill up in Canada to see bears, but you’re going to spend a buttload of money to do that.

So that’s the awesome part. Other items: weather is always chilly in the true Arctic. It rarely gets above 50F or so. Further south, toward the Arctic Circle, it gets significantly warmer, and by the time you get to Fairbanks, which is dead center in Alaska, summer temps are easily hitting 80 or 90F. Northern lights are best seen in winter months, obviously, but there is no guarantee that you’ll see them, so I wouldn’t plan my trip based solely on that expectation.

Ease of travel is a relative thing. Rental car companies in Alaska usually expressly forbid you from driving on unpaved roads, which rules out a drive to Prudhoe Bay or even over the Top of the World Highway to Dawson. The latter is the worst road in the state, in my experience. A really great drive is over the Denali Highway from Paxson to Cantwell (or the reverse). There is lodging at Paxson Lodge and many places to stay on the other end near Denali Nat’l Park. The views along this road are spectacular and it’s probably my favorite drive in the state. It’s mostly gravel, however, so you’re back to rental car problems. If you take it slow, you shouldn’t have any problems, though. I’ve driven it many times in a motorhome and had no issues. The above areas are all sub-Arctic.

I know.

Did you also know that it’s McMurdo? Just sayin’.

I spent a weekend at Rejkyavik, Iceland once. It was late may, and sunset happened around 1:30 AM-dawn was about 3:00 AM.
Fascinating place, and the people were very nice (almost everybody spoke english).
I would go back!

My brother was a teacher for a year in Gambell, Alaska which he described as boring beyond belief. He took stunning photos. He also quite liked Nome and Kotezebue

I’ve been to both Nome and Kotz, and have nothing against either place. Problem is, once you’re there, there’s really nothing to do. Unless you go to Nome during Iditarod, in which case you can join everyone else in getting completely thrashed every night.

I recommend you visit it before it’s gone.

Drop in on Superman and see if he’ll put you up in the Fortress of Solitude. :smiley: