North Slope communities are only accessible by air. The only road to the region – the ‘Haul Road’- parallels the Trans-Alaska pipeline from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, and serves mainly as a freight corridor to the oil fields. The road is now also open to tourist traffic. One airline provides passenger service between Barrow and the state’s largest cites several times each day. Smaller commuter airlines travel between Barrow and villages. Freight arrives by barge in the summer and by air cargo year-round.
North Slope communities are linked to the rest of the world by excellent communications systems. They receive telephone and cable television by satellite, a daily statewide and weekly local newspaper, and bilingual programs from KBRW, Barrow’s public radio station.
The North Slope Borough operates a state-of-the-art video production facility, which produces cultural and informational programming. Regional business meetings and educational classes are held through the Borough’s teleconference network. Barrow residents are able to participate in state government hearings through Alaska’s legislative audioconference network.
Residents enjoy Barrow’s recreation center, which includes a new gymnasium, two racquetball courts, a weight room and saunas. There’s also an ice rink and a roller rink. Events held at the center include sports tournaments, Eskimo dances and various celebrations. Other community activities include the Spring Festival ‘Piuraagiaqta’, ice skating, basketball and Nalukataq, the celebration of a whale harvest.
Barrow offers five hotels, seven restaurants, a dry cleaner, and a large modem supermarket and merchandise store. The rest of the villages have small grocery services. Because of the high cost of living, many people order their groceries from Anchorage, Fairbanks, or the Lower 48.