Gates of the Arctic: Swimming in the Arctic Ocean

We had driven north of the Arctic Circle, we had entered Gates of the Arctic National Park and we had the option to return to Fairbanks and continue to the next National Park. We were also a little over two hundred miles away from Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean. When else in life would we be this close? We were also driven by the fact that we hadn’t been able to jump into a body of water while we were in Gates, we opted to drive to Prudhoe Bay and visit the Arctic Ocean.

In typical money making money fashion Deadhorse has a touristy way to visit the Arctic Ocean. Because of all the drilling you can’t actually drive to the ocean by yourself. You have to pay money and take a ‘tour’ of the oil fields and the ocean. They give you a bag of Doritos, a soda and then load you onto a little bus that takes you through the oil fields to the ocean.

 Getting ready to put my swimming cap on!

Getting ready to put my swimming cap on!

The driver points out different things in town. The gym, the drilling stations, the foxes living right next to the road. It’s certainly very interesting, but also kind of silly that you have to pay for it. After about fifteen minutes you get to the Arctic Ocean. On the day that we were it was foggy and super windy. The water is brown and gross, apparently there is some peat moss nearby that gets in the water and makes it the brown color. The water is super shallow. I waded out twenty-five yards and was in nearly freezing water that still wasn’t above my knee. I ran out further and finally dove in and to cover my head. Luckily I had brought my speedo and swim cap, so was able to get in a couple of strokes before hurrying out of the water and drying off to get warm.

That was it. Tour over. We drove back to where our cars were parked. They had cleaned up the chips and drinks, so we couldn’t grab one for the road. After that there wasn’t really anything for us to do in town. We couldn’t drive down most of the roads without security clearance. We had to get a couple of gallons of super expensive gas and then made our way back south.