Abandoned Igloo Hotel - Igloo City, Alaska
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Alaska’s abandoned igloo hotel, also known as Igloo City, is located right off the George Parks Highway roughly 22 miles south of Cantwell and 200 miles north of Anchorage. While many who have viewed Igloo City feel this uninhabited building (sitting in the middle of no-man’s land) is creepy, we happen to find the story behind it quite fascinating. Consider this; just about anyone and everyone living in the Last Frontier has had someone from “Outside” ask whether or not people in Alaska live in igloos. It's a silly yet endearing association that comes along with our frigid arctic environment. The obvious answer is of course “no,” but that doesn’t stop the question from being asked. With that said, the vision behind building Igloo City as a premier Alaskan lodging option for those fascinated with the idea of living in an igloo was utterly brilliant. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as planned and the unique structure has now sat abandoned for nearly half a century. Flickr - Malcolm Manners
Sitting at mile marker 188.7 on the east side of the Parks Highway, Igloo City was originally constructed in the late 1970s by Leon Smith. His dream was to create a one-of-a-kind Alaskan lodge that visitors from all over the world would come to experience. Flickr - sandwich
Unfortunately, Leon’s dream of finishing the project and moving on to operate a popular igloo-shaped hotel never came to fruition mainly due to code violations and structural issues. The cost of updating the property to become structurally sound proved to be too high. The undersized windows (which are now shattered and boarded shut) were said to be one of the biggest code violations that couldn’t be fixed without breaking the bank. Flickr - Kevin Duffy
The massive round structure is four stories high and is rumored to be constructed with 888 sheets of plywood with urethane insulation on the outside. Igloo City is so large that airplanes at heights over 30,000 feet in the air have reported being able to see it. Although it does have a way of sticking out like a sore thumb, we happen to love its quirkiness and individuality. Flickr - Bryan Kiechle
Igloo City is currently locked and boarded off, meaning the interior cannot be legally accessed. Some people who have visited Igloo City (even those just observing it from the outside) have reported hearing spooky noises and noting an overall eerie feeling. But then again, visiting an abandoned site in the middle of nowhere would probably give anyone the chills. We've never heard any definite proof behind the structure being haunted, so we guess that claim is all a matter of personal experience. Flickr - Bryan Kiechle
Although Igloo City has never officially opened for business, it is said to have housed a variety of wild animals over the years (including moose, bears, and wolves) that have used the facility to take shelter. This abandoned igloo hotel has also endured a lot of vandalism since its abandonment. If you visit Igloo City today, don’t be surprised to find litter, graffiti and lots of broken windows. Flickr - Kevin Duffy
Igloo City shares its highway frontage lot with a former gas station. The two structures sit on roughly 38 acres off a well-traveled, albeit remote, stretch of the Parks Highway. The closest nearby town to this abandoned igloo hotel is Cantwell, which has around 220 year-round residents. Hundreds of thousands of travelers pass by Igloo City each year en route to Interior Alaska destinations such as Denali National Park, the old Denali Highway, and Fairbanks. Although Igloo City doesn’t get the tourism revenue that it originally anticipated, it has become one of Alaska’s most unique roadside attractions, receiving nationwide attention. Flickr - Travis
Check out the YouTube video below to experience an up close and personal look at Igloo City (and the surrounding terrain) via drone footage. https://youtu.be/wDAvebEyJ1o
Looking for more where that came from? Check out Kepler Park - The History, The Future & The Fish. You might also enjoy reading about the isolated places in Alaska where you can actually view Russia from your doorstep. This historic read on Portage - The Sunken Alaska Ghost Town That Nature Is Reclaiming is also quite interesting. If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Michelle. Really. Do you think any of us give a frozen muskrat’s ass what you think of us, or what you think, period? most of us came here to get away from all of the selfish, retarded BS which overwhelmingly characterizes the life and mindset of the people of modern America. We choose to stay, because it is the last free place in North America. Still free, because life is harsh enough to keep the stupid and the weak from wanting to stay for very long. If you are stupid and weak, we will eat you,or you will freeze to death, or perish in some other unglamorous way. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just saying how it is when you live among wolves in the arctic. We don’t mess around,and if you want to retire here, most of us would rather you not mess around, either, as no one wants to risk their life to rescue someone who came on a lark, unprepared to take care of themselves.
I have made this place my home for over three decades. I didn’t walk across from Siberia, and neither did my ancestors. Not that it matters.
Boy you are a thin skinned person. Get over yourself
I actually lived in the trailer house next to the gas station and worked at the gas station for about 3 years halfway point from Anchorage to Fairbanks is what they fail to mention I’m so sad to hear that it has been vandalized and run down. It was never a hotel but it was pretty awesome I used to go in and explore all the time and we used to have cesnas land on the highway and turn in for fuel it was a great time of my younger years I miss it terribly
I so agree with everyone on here about folks from the Lower 48 just don’t understand our terminology and they really should not speak out of turn when they have never been up here to experience our BIG, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, FRIENDLY State!!!
Wow I think it’s beautiful and I wish people wouldn’t bicker about semantics. My great uncle was one of alaskan pioneers in the 20s. There was a book about him called "the man from sheep Mountain. "How I wish when I met him I had asked for a copy and maybe even take me back to Alaska with him which is where he died. He was also one of the few survivors of the Tuscania ship. been obsessed with the Aurora my whole life yet have never made it to Alaska, I am now 73 using a wheelchair and walker yet still hoping to make it! I still have relatives there I never met…
Visited the Igloo Hotel in 2018. The roadside brush near it was so grown up you could barely see it and there were no roadside markers at all telling of it. If I had not been specifically looking for it , it would have been easy to pass it by. It is very run down but is a unique sight to see. Worth the site clean up it badly needs.
So dang rude.I hope retirement is years off. I’m not looking forward to your visit.
Great article. Super interesting.
“Outside,” AKA “The Lower 48’s,” AKA just “Lower 48,” AKA “The States.” It really is not meant to be condescending, but that’s how we learn to refer to the rest of the US, Hawaii not included. Please think of it as endearing, instead. Individuals from the States are “Outsiders” or “Lower 48ers” or simply “Tourists.” While we’re on the subject of offenses, we’re a little offended that none of your “free shipping” deals apply to us, so….There’s that. ;) Sincerely, a lifelong, 30+ year Alaskan resident
You said it very well. I have lived here for 4 years now and it takes time to learn the Alaskan lifestyle. And culture
after reading a few comments , all i want to say is SNOWMACHINE!!
not snowmobile .
I can get you seller information.
Too bad train to nowhere goes here ..?
I would swear under oath that in 1985 it was a souvenir shop. I remember going inside it then.
Michelle Schmidt how about before you try to talk about “educating someone,” you learn the difference between your and you’re
The lower 48 and other areas are often referred to “outside”. This is because Alaskans are kind of insulated from the rest of the country. To travel “outside” of Alaska is a huge ordeal. Days of driving, or purchasing a pricey ticket.
Anyone know where the actual for sale listinfgis for this place? How to contact the seller?
Nicely said Ken,
I have lived in the north since the mid 90’s, Alaskans are great people in many ways.
Nicely said Donna, So many want to tell us how and what to do. Michelle needs to spend a few years, (winters included) before “whining” about us. There is information to tell people like her, what some of our words mean.
It’s funny that anyone would find anything condescending in that article. I absolutely loved it an I’m an outsider to. How many people I’ve met that don’t realize Alaska is part of the USA , not unlike my own state of New Mexico. I think in order for anyone to have an opinion on anything first and for most live it… then form your opinion. You can never fully gauge the beauty, the extremes and the family atmosphere of a place unless u live it.
Remember it being a Tesoro station there. (?) Was the last section of blacktop which extended just beyond the igloo property. Going to Cantwell, (and “Parks” highway from Anchorage to Fairbanks), wasn’t paved until late spring 76’? Remember they had a small store in the entrance to the igloo for payment of gas and for candy
And the first stop when friends and family fly in is the ticket counter to verify their return ticket?
I spent last summer in Alaska working. I was not offended in the least, being called an outsider by my coworkers. They don’t say in a derogatory way, and they tell you why they call you that. Alaska, and the people were an incredible experience. I’m going back to work again. And since I’m a motor coach driver, I’ve been past the Igloo dozens of times. It’s wierd but cool, and some of the land tours make a point of stopping there.
You are pretty thin skinned for Alaska Michelle. If you try and do more than a quick visit you might want to check your attitude. Alaskans do not like whining and dont take kindly to those from the lower 48 telling them how to act…..maybe you will mellow by the time you retire
Seriously he used the term Outside once and it was in parenthesis. Michelle’s response is a thousand times more condescending.