What Life Is Like Inside The Tiny Town In Alaska Where Almost Nobody Owns A Car
Located in western Alaska is the small community of Bethel, where there are more cabs per capita than any other city in the United States. Nestled on the banks of the
Kuskokwim River, living in Bethel, Alaska is certainly not for the faint of heart. This remote area is challenging to get to, incredibly expensive to live in and the weather is known to be wildly harsh and temperamental for many months out of the year. So before you think about relocating, be sure to consider all of the elements so that you aren’t surprised upon arrival. Because waiting for a cab in the snow isn’t as alluring as it sounds! Read on to learn about all of the things to do in Bethel, Alaska.
With a population of around 6,200 year-round residents, the small community of Bethel is known for being very tight-knit.
Those that live here will say that it's an "everybody knows everybody" type of place.
Serving as the economic hub for the 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Bethel is a wildly remote place that is over 400 miles from Alaska's largest city of Anchorage. In fact, Bethel is so remote that there is no road system to access it and the only way to visit is via boat or plane.
So what is the allure?
Well, Bethel is actually a place that is surrounded by incredible beauty. If living off the land and being immersed in an environment that offers fantastic hunting and fishing opportunities is your cup of tea, you'll fall head over heels in love with living in Bethel. Hugging the banks of the 702-mile-long Kuskokwim River is considered to be quite the lofty privilege. Access to abundant salmon and whitefish species, along with renowned fur trapping accessibility are just the tip of the alluring iceberg that comes along with living in Bethel.
Although there are a lot of incredible praises to sing about Bethel, the price of living is certainly not one of them. Due to the remoteness of the area, the cost of getting in supplies is astronomical. So groceries, tools, diapers... and just about anything under the sun that is considered a 'necessity' to survive, is priced through the roof. Which takes us to our next point; the cost to purchase a vehicle and the gas that it takes to operate the vehicles, are equally as high.
It seems unlikely for a tiny town with a population of roughly 6,000 that it would be considered the 'taxi capital of the United States.' Especially considering the fact that there are no roads leading into Bethel, there is only around 16 miles of road inside Bethel and only 10 miles of which is paved. Add in the fact that the roads are covered in sheer ice for the majority of the year, and you'll be scratching your head even more than ever.
Who would want to risk their lives to drive around on ice roads all day? Well, lots of people in fact. They are often lured to Bethel on the idea that they can make great money. In total there are nearly 93 taxi drivers in the city of Bethel, which is roughly 1 for every 80 people. Kusko Cab and Quyana Cab seem to be the two biggest providers in town and they can often be found doing the 'taxi cab shuffle' outside of grocery stores and restaurants throughout town.
Although there are not many who can justify having a car, you'll notice that Bethel is very popular among the boating crowd.
Flickr - Chris Pike
In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to learn that more households have boats than those that have actual cars.
In Alaska, transportation comes in many forms. It just so happens that planes, boats and dog sleds make the most sense for small communities such as Bethel.
It's definitely a preferred taste, but those that live here seem to absolutely love it and have no interest in leaving.
Want to know more about what it’s like to live in Bethel? Check out the YouTube video below and get ready for your jaw to hit the ground in utter amazement and sheer disbelief. Do you think you could overcome all the obstacles that come with living in this western Alaska town?
If you thought that was surprising, check out the
price of living in Alaska vs. the rest of the country. You also might really enjoy reading our list of frustrating things about living in Alaska.
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More to Explore
What are the most interesting small towns in Alaska?
For the most local charm possible, make a day trip (or spend the weekend,) in these precious
small towns in Alaska:
Valdez offers views of waterfall-covered coastal mountains that soar into the clouds. All forms of snow sports are available as well as glacier kayaking and seal spotting.
Sitka lives in the shadow of a volcano and is home to a rainforest! The town has a quaint European feel that will make it tough to leave.
Talkeetna is a town with a lot to offer but all we are going to say is that the mayor is a cat, because, really, what else do you need to know?
Where can I go hiking in Alaska?
Lace-up your boots because there are some truly unbeatable
hikes in Alaska to take. Here are a few of the best:
Mount Roberts Tramway to
Gastineau Peak in Juneau is under three miles but it is a steep one! Be prepared for some elevation. Luckily the views from the top make it the perfect rest stop.
Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood feels like wandering into a real-life fairy tale. The moss-covered waterfall you will encounter is oh-so enchanting.
W Butte Trail in Palmer is just over 2 miles but this hike is all about the mountain views, so make sure to allow some extra time to admire the sights.
What are the best road trips through Alaska to take?
There is so much to be seen across the Last Frontier! Some of the best
road trips through Alaska to take if you want to really experience the state are:
haunted places in Alaska road trip, which should be done over a long weekend as it requires 11 hours of driving, but along the way you will see haunted houses, hotels, cemeteries, and more. The
natural wonders in Alaska road trip, which is about 7 hours of driving and takes you to nine spots including waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains. The
waterfalls in Alaska road trip, which is sure to blow your mind with seven waterfalls that are stunning whether flowing or frozen.