Prudhoe Bay


Quick Facts

Place Type


Administrative Entity

North Slope Borough

Time Zone


Area Codes



9.0 meters


1442.83463 square kilometers

FIPS 55-3 Code




Coordinates Latitude: 70.2556453 Longitude: -148.3384293

Demographics & Economic Data

Median Age
Percent High School Grad Or Higher
Total Housing Units
Foreign Born Population
Percent Below Poverty Level



Prudhoe Bay or Sagavanirktok is a census-designated place (CDP) located in North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 2,174 people, up from just 5 residents in 2000; however, at any given time, several thousand transient workers support the Prudhoe Bay oil field. The airport, lodging, and general store are located at Deadhorse; the rigs and processing facilities are located on scattered gravel pads laid atop the tundra. It is only during winter that the surface is hard enough to support heavy equipment, and new construction happens at that time. Prudhoe Bay is the unofficial northern terminus of the Pan-American Highway. The Bay itself is still 10 miles further north than a security checkpoint so open water is not visible from the highway. A few tourists, arriving by bus after a two-day ride up the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks, come to see the tundra, the Arctic Ocean, and the midnight sun, staying in lodgings assembled from modular buildings. Tours must be arranged in advance (photo ID is required) to see the Arctic Ocean and the Bay itself. Prudhoe Bay was named in 1826 by British explorer Sir John Franklin after his classmate Captain Algernon Percy, Baron Prudhoe. Franklin traveled westerly along the coast from the mouth of the Mackenzie River in Canada almost to Point Barrow.


Prudhoe Bay is located at 70°19′32″N 148°42′41″W.According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 558.0 square miles (1,445 km2) of which, 416.3 square miles (1,078 km2) of it is land and 141.8 square miles (367 km2) of it is water. The total area is 25.40% water.


Prudhoe Bay, along with similar communities on the North shore of Alaska, features a Tundra climate (Köppen ET). Winters are long, very cold and due to its location above the Arctic Circle, some weeks in winter feature days with a never rising sun. Summers, while bringing long daylight hours (even 24 hour days during some weeks), are still cold with temperatures just above freezing.


Prudhoe Bay first appeared on the 1970 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. It was made a census-designated place (CDP) in 1980.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,174 people residing in the CDP. The racial makeup of the CDP was 83.0% White, 1.9% Black, 7.5% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from some other race and 1.6% from two or more races. 4.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Prudhoe Bay oil field

Prudhoe Bay is adjacent to the largest oil field in the United States.

Health care

Prudhoe Bay is classified as an isolated town/Sub-Regional Center. It is found in EMS Region 6A in the North Slope Region. Emergency Services have limited highway, coastal, and airport access. Emergency service is provided by a paid Emergency Medical Services unit and Fairweather Deadhorse Medical Clinic. Auxiliary health care is provided by oil company medical staff and the Greater Prudhoe Bay Fire Dept. Individuals requiring hospital care are usually transported to the nearest hospital/medical center, Sammuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital, in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Because no roads connect Prudhoe Bay to Utqiaġvik, individuals are transported by helicopter or air ambulance (an approximately 45 minute flight).


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