Talk About Tok
Travelers coming from the “Lower 48” know they’ve finally arrived when they hit Tok. It’s the
first roadside town in Alaska, and has two visitor centers.
Tok has a collection of businesses, where you can wash off, dry out, stock up, eat up and
bed down, no matter whether you’re headed into or out of Alaska.
Tok has a festive, port-city air (though it's nowhere near the ocean). Alaska time is an hour earlier than
the Yukon, so set your watch.
Crossing the Alaska-Canada
The Alaska Highway border crossing is open 24 hours a day year-round. The Top-of-the-World border crossing
is only open 12 hours a day from mid-May to mid-September.
National Wildlife Refuge
you're entering Alaska by way of Canada, stop at the Tetlin National
Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 9 miles from the Canada border. For the
next 70 miles on your way toward Tok, the southern side of the Alcan
Highway borders the refuge.
Alaska is one of the most animal-dense areas of the state. For example,
it's estimated by biologists that the 40-Mile Caribou Herd, north of
Tok, numbered 33,110 animals in the year 1999, and the 40-Mile Herd is
South of the 40-Mile area, in the Copper River Valley,
the Nelchina Caribou Herd is now estimated at around 30,000 animals. In
the mid-1990's, the Nelchina Herd numbered over 50,000 caribou. (Local
biologists say that was too many. The larger number of caribou over
used the Nelchina summer range.)
The Nelchina herd roams a vast area in Alaska, and has been overwintering near Tok and the Canada border in recent years.
730,000 acre Tetlin Wildlife Refuge produces up to 100,000 ducklings a
year. Home to 186 or more bird species. Interior Alaska lakes are
important summer habitat for many birds..
+ For general tips on spotting wildlife in Alaska, click here.
your way into Tok from Canada, you'll pass Northway Junction. Northway
Village is 7 miles off the road, and is named after Chief Walter
Northway, who lived to be 117, and died in 1993. (Its Athabascan name
is "Naabia Niign," which means, "Our Village Along the River.")
Chief Northway saw his first gold miners as children, and is said to have helped save their lives. (Contrary to popular belief, many
of the gold rush stampeders of a hundred years ago were not particularly good woodsmen.)
and nearby Tetlin are Athabascan Indian villages. The town of Northway
itself has some of the coldest winter temperatures in Alaska.
are many advantages to living so far north, however. For instance, as
the photo shows, living close to the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge
gives young people from Tetlin Village a chance to participate in
banding osprey with state and federal agencies.
has a post office, a school, an airport, and a population of about 350
people. Two miles south of the village, there's an airport with a U.S.
Tetlin Junction and the Taylor Highway
Tetlin Junction is about 80 miles from the border and about 10 miles outside of Tok. The Taylor
Highway starts here, going northeast 160
miles to Eagle. Ninety-six miles up, the Taylor intersects the Top-of-the-World Highway, which goes across the border and on to Dawson
It's 79 miles from the Taylor intersection to Dawson.
The original road to Eagle, called "The Eagle Trail," was built in the early
1900's, and ran from Fort Egbert at Eagle to Valdez.
The route was used by early miners as an American route to the
Klondike, and later, to the 40-Mile Gold Mining District. Remnants of
the original trail still exist, and can be seen between here and Valdez.
wasn't easy finding a good road route through Interior Alaska in the
summer because the permafrost (permanently frozen ground) prevents
water from draining, creating in the process large swampy bogs. The
most successful trails through Interior Alaska were those originally
developed by Native Americans.
6 miles out of Tok, there's the Coast Guard's LORAN-C station. Its
signal towers provide navigational information for air and sea travel
in the Gulf of Alaska.
How far is Tok from Canada, and how do you pronounce it?
Tok is 92 miles
from the Canada border. Its name rhymes with “smoke.”
The Tok Mainstreet Visitor Center and the Alaska Lands Public
Information Center are conveniently located side-by-side. They both can
give you advice about road conditions and information about Alaska in
general and Tok in particular.
TOK HISTORY: Building the Alcan Highway
Alcan Highway, along which you'll be traveling when you drive into Tok,
was a military road built in anticipation of World War II. It was
constructed at a cost of $138 million and finished in late October,
1943, as a way of giving the military road access to Alaska.
was built by 7 regiments of the Army Corps of Engineers, including 3
regiments of black soldiers. For many years, the Alcan was something of
a "pioneer" road, and visitors still buy bumper stickers bragging that
they "survived" the Alcan Highway.
visitors to Tok get a lot of satisfaction out of washing their rigs
after the long, dusty, trip. They use this as a time to make friends
they'll meet again. Convoys of antique cars frequently drive the Alcan
Highway into Tok.
Tok Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Tok! This website includes an events calendar and business
directory, along with visitor and community information.