Arctic Circle and Beaver Village Flightseeing Tour

Alaskan mountain range and river view from the plane

Was I crazy to hop on a 2-propeller plane to fly 8500 feet over the Alaskan Mountains to go to the Arctic Circle? Probably but, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Four of us opted to take the Chena Springs Resorts Flightseeing tour to the Arctic Circle and explore Beaver Village.

Alaskan mountain range and river view from the plane

Alaska Aerial Views

Alaskan mountain range view from the planeAlaska is a beautiful state with a vast amount of uncultivated land as far as you can see in any direction. First, we flew over the mountain ranges, rivers snaking through them, dotted with evergreen trees and rocks growing right up at the top. We even flew over working gold mines.Erratic Glacier Rocks growing on top of Alaskan White Mountains Then we flew over the flat tundra. All you could see now was snow covered water spaced throughout the trees. Then we passed over the Arctic Circle. Turned around and headed back south the 13 miles to Beaver VillageAlaskan mountain range and lakes view from the planeView from the plane over the Alaska wilderness

Seth, the Pilot

Seth was super knowledgeable as we flew over the Alaskan White Mountains and Yukon Flats. Pointing out creeks, rivers, mountains and even gave us some history of Alaska on our flight. He also played a joke on us. Mentioning the bump, we just felt as we crossed the Arctic Circle was the sub-zero air meeting the warmer air from the south. I almost believed him until I heard him over the headphones that he made the bump happen. Funny guy!

We spotted moose on a snow covered lake. Seth did a circle over for us to get pictures of them. It was so funny watching four photographers with cameras, taking pictures of everything we could out the plane’s windows.Aerial view of moose on a snow-covered lake

He lands on this snow-covered runway almost every day. It’s very surprising that pilots can’t get a smooth landing on dry land most of the time but, Seth’s landing was smooth!2 Propeller Piper Plane

Beaver Village

Aerial View of Beaver VillageAs we circled over Beaver Village, it looked like a little town with log cabins that you put together on a train model village. Beaver Village was founded in 1910 as a trading post for Inuits and gold miners.

We landed on the snow-covered runway and met the Adams, Cliff & Ai who came out to meet us. Cliff, a native Indian, has lived in Beaver Village all his life. Ai is a Japanese transplant, who came up to Beaver Village as a tourist five years ago from Tokyo. Ai met Cliff and ended up staying and marrying him. She has completely uprooted her life from living in a huge city to living off the land. She is so incredibly happy!  Her smile is so infectious.Cliff and Ai AdamsAi pronounces her name “I.” Ai took us around the village pointing out what each building was. She showed us the school where one teacher teaches seven kids (Kindergarten to Highschool). We walked passed the Post Office, then the laundromat (Washing Building).

Beaver Village Wash buildingThe water tower gets filled by hand. The villagers carry buckets from the Yukon River. We stopped in the middle of an intersection (one of two) that Ai said was Main Street. Not one person to be seen anywhere only us walking through the village. Main Street at Beaver Village, AlaskaWe passed the cemetery that had all wooden crosses. I asked about the burial process, and they don’t wait until the ground is unfrozen to bury them. Frozen ground or not the villagers are buried. There isn’t much sickness here. Most villagers live to a ripe old age.Beaver Village graveyard

Snow-covered Yukon River

Life along the Yukon River

After that, we walked one block to the next road and stopped at the Yukon River. There was another building which houses the government and the clinic but, the doctor is long gone. This village has shrunk from over 100 people to 80 down to today’s 46 people.

Ai told us in September the Post Office and the school will be closing. I asked, “What will happen to the kids? What will they do?” Ai answered, “They will be shipped to live in Fairbanks with their aunt.” This was so disheartening to hear. This village’s future depends on having these kids return but, once they get a taste of city life what that possibility is? Zero to none. 

Abandoned Trading Post in Beaver Village AlaskaAs we walked along the Yukon River, we passed the now defunct trading store, which Cliff’s grandfather owned. We checked out at a 95-year-old deserted cabin filled with antiques.96-year old abandoned cabinAcross from this one is an 116-year-old cabin which is about as old as this village. I couldn’t see inside since it was covered in snow. 101-year old abandoned cabin next to the Yukon RiverOur group passed the one Bed & Breakfast in the village. If you want to experience living off the land in the middle of Alaska, come here. 

The Adams House

Heather Raulerson posing with moose antlers in Beaver Village AlaskaWe got to Ai and Cliff’s house which was so inviting and warm inside. They offered us fresh Wild Alaskan Salmon and Moose samples. Moose is quite tender. We asked Ai what her favorite meat is and she said black bear. Her face lit up when she mentioned it was so tender and moist. The Adams spend their time trapping and using every bit of what they hunt. Ai was wearing beaver gloves, fox scarf, and a Lynx hat.Ai Adams Japanese tour guide to Beaver Village Alaska Ai Adams decorated Beaver gloves with beadingShe has won awards and is one of the top trappers in the world. China is their biggest customer seeking out their pelts. They usually go for over $300/pelt. Animal pelts from the Adams

Living off the Land

We spent time at the Adams house enjoying their hospitality and seeing how they live there all year round. Ai has a little greenhouse to grow vegetables. We also saw where they caught the Salmon and checked out the Smoke House. Cliff hunts and provides food for the whole village.Smoke House in Beaver Village

Of course, if you live in Alaska, you have to own Huskies. The Adams have three beautiful dogs, which were so friendly despite their ferocious looks. I love those blue eyes!Adams' blue-eyed Husky dog

I can’t imagine how beautiful Beaver Village is in the summer right on banks of the Yukon River. Minus the mosquitos, which they told us were horrible. We walked down and took some pictures of all of us on the Yukon River.Heather Raulerson standing on the Yukon RiverBeaver Village tour with Nyla Mischke, Lola Biuckians, George Lehmann, and Heather Raulerson

When our time with the Adams was winding down, we started walking back to the plane. Ai noticed a white rabbit hidden in the snow and trees. “Aww, how cute!” we said while we got our cameras out. Ai quietly said “Snack!” Love this lady!White rabbit hiding in the trees in Beaver Village Alaska

If you need a place to get away from everything, want to commune with nature and learn to live off the land, Beaver Village would be the place for you. Info for Beaver Village Tours. This village now depends on tourists to keep this community from not completely disappearing.


  • mccraney2014Melody 27June2017 at 8:02 PM Reply

    I just inquired with Chena about the tour and was told that the tour is no longer running right now. It seems the couple who maintain the runway and give the village tour, their boat flipped over and they haven’t been seen since. RIP I was heartbroken to hear that after reading your blog last night and seeing all the pictures. I got excited and couldn’t wait to go. 🙁

    • Heather 27June2017 at 8:11 PM Reply

      Yes, I have been following the status and all of us that went to Beaver Village and spent time with the Adams are heartbroken. They were/are super sweet people and always wanted the best for their village and to show off the best of Alaska life. This tragedy puts a light on how fleeting life is and how you should enjoy every day!

  • Natasha Minnerly 27May2017 at 6:17 PM Reply

    Hello! I met you guys briefly when you came out here to Chena with the Great Escape group 🙂
    I love your blog post! You took amazing photographs, and this is an absolutely wonderful description of Beaver Village and Ai and Cliff. 🙂
    Do you mind if I share the link with some of the employees here at Chena, and on our Facebook page?

  • gelpilot 25April2017 at 10:49 AM Reply

    What a great trip this was! For readers who don’t know, I’m the far right in the group of four in that next to last photo. Beautiful sights, great people (Seth, Ai, Cliff), just a lot of fun. Walking on the frozen Yukon river was cool because I’ve seen the river in the summer and it’s a raging monster then. Ai did a great job of giving us so much history on the village, and she’s just so cute. Great write-up, Heather

    • Heather 25April2017 at 6:13 PM Reply

      Thank you, George! I had so much fun on that trip with all of you!

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