Alaska 2023: Barrow, The High Arctic

The High Arctic

June 16 – 18, 2023

Tour Length: 3 days
Est. Spaces Left: Available

This farthest northern town in the US is situated along the Arctic Ocean. It’s the best place to find Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders as well as Polar Bears in the US.

Tour Leaders

Dave Krueper
Kip Miller


Birds, Mammals, Photography


Double Accommodation: $3100/person
Single Supplement: + $250
Deposit: $500

Max Group Size

12 (+2 HLBT leaders)


Easy ; 1 – 2 miles walking per day; most birding by vehicle

Future Departures

June 2024

Tour Descriptions

Barrow is the northernmost settlement in the United States, located on the edge of the Polar Ice Cap more than 300 miles above the Arctic Circle. Vast seas of ice extend from Point Barrow another 1200 miles to the North Pole. From May to August, darkness never falls on Barrow as the golden glow of the midnght sun fills the sky.

The town is quite small, with a good hotel and several restaurants. High Arctic birds are the specialty in Barrow. Snowy Owls are common. Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders are starting their very short breeding seasons in June. Additionally, Yellow-billed Loons breed in the area. We’ll visit the numerous tundra ponds to look for breeding species. Polar Bears are fairly common during May and June, but not always easy to find.

Many shorebirds, resplendent in their breeding plumages, are possible in Barrow. Buff-breasted, Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers are all regular breeders. Asian species, e.g., Red-necked Stint, and Curlew Sandpiper (both rare breeders), have all been seen in Barrow during June. The experience of being at the end of civilization, in this desolate yet stunningly beautiful setting, will make the trip well worth it for all.



More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Spectacled; Steller’s; King; Common Eider; Greater White-fronted Goose; Pomarine & Parasitic Jaeger; Pacific, Red-throated, Yellow-billed Loon; Red & Red-necked Phalarope; Snowy Owl; American Golden Plover; Baird’s, Pectoral, Buff-breasted Sandpiper; Lapland Longspur; Snow Bunting. Possible Ross’s & Ivory Gull some year, also Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint.

Top Mammals

Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Caribou, Bearded & Spotted Seal

Other Attractions

Other Attractions

Arctic Ocean & ice pack; native village. Excellent photographic opportunities.

During your free time in Anchorage, don’t miss going to Wave Bookstores on Northern Lights or downtown on 5th Avenue. They have a great selection of Alaska fiction and non-fiction! In addition, there are some excellent restaurants downtown, including Orso, Glacier Brew House, Simon & Seafort’s, and Marx Brothers.


No Tour Extensions Listed

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Anchorage Airport at departure gate.


Comfortable hotel.


From Anchorage, 2 nights lodging, all meals from 1st night dinner through last day’s dinner, one Pt. Barrow trip by tracked vehicle, transport, guides, taxes, tips.


Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, tip to boat crew/captain (optional); other personal expenses.

Habitats Covered

High Arctic tundra; Arctic ice pack

Expected Climate

Moderately cold, sometimes below freezing.

Suggested Clothing and Gear

Credit cards / cash
Scope and tripod (optional)
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
Water bottle
Small umbrella
Small day pack / fanny pack
Small flashlight
Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)
Itch relief cream
Lip screen/balm
Anti-diarrhea medicine e.g., Imodium
Prescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
Hair Dryer
Small alarm clock
Cleaning fluids/cloths/drying cloths
Small tool kit for optics or glasses
Field guides
Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
Hiking Boots/Shoes
Warm hat with visor
Rain hat
Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
Warm winter jacket
Balaclava or full facial ski mask
Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
Glove liners
Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)
Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)
Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)
PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping
Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmth
Sturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots
Moleskin for blisters
Foot powder for drying

Recommended Reading

  • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition Jon Dunn, et al. (2011), National Geographic Society
  • Shorebirds of North America, Europe, & Asia: A Guide to Field Identification Don Taylor; illustrated by Stephen Message (2006), Princeton University Press
  • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide Dennis Paulson (2005), Princeton University Press
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds David A. Sibley (2000), Knopf
  • Seabirds of the World Peter Harrison (1997), Princeton University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan (1982), Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia Bharat Bhushan, et al. (1993), Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • Birds of Russia & Adjacent Territories V. E. Flint, et al. (1984), Princeton University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of China John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps (2000)Oxford University Press
  • Birds of Europe Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999), Princeton University Press
  • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East Lars Jonsson (1992), Princeton University Press
  • The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe & the Western Palearctic Mark Beaman and Steve Madge (1998), Princeton University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe Ian Lewington, et al. (1991), Domino Books, Ltd.
  • New Generation to the Guide Birds of Britain & Europe Christopher Perrins (1987), University of Texas Press