Explore Alaska’s Abandoned Igloo Hotel Located In The Middle Of No-Man's Land

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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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. abandoned igloo hotel alaska 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 


would be cool to see it fixed up and running!

Crimeski April 17, 2021

Michelle, don’t jump to conclusions. Doing so seems to distract from the educational nature of this article.

“Outsider” comes from “outside” and is in spirit with other terms of endearment for how Alaska is not contiguous to the rest of the U.S.

Liu April 17, 2021

Alaskans commonly use “Outside” to refer to the lower 48. It has nothing to do with indigenous people.

Dick April 17, 2021

Oustsiders must live here in order to understand how and why we use that term! It really takes a strong mental and emotional attitude to endure the beautifully harsh lifestyle here! Winters and the dark will make you strong …life here can be challenging but very rewarding! All Alaskans love visitors but also love when the last cruise ship sails back toward outside waters!
much love here!

lelah dobson April 17, 2021

Everyone is a critic. Never lived or visited there and yet you still have an opinion. A little lesson. Alaskans, both sourdoughs and cheechakos, have a sense of family about them. The term Outsiders is a play on what Alaskans call the lower 48, or the “outside”. If you live there, as I have, you would understand. Don’t judge unless you have the facts…and at least a full Alaskan winter under your belt.

Ken April 17, 2021

Notice the article said “outside”. Outside is a term used to designate the rest of the world or more specifically the other 49 states. Is this condescending? Maybe, but it is a regional Alaska term in common use. There are many odd terms and quirks to life in Alaska.

Katherine Helmuth April 17, 2021

Alaska residents call the lower 48 “outside”. Hence the term “outsiders”. Hardly condescending. I didn’t get that feeling from the article at all. Of course I’m an “insider”.

Jean April 17, 2021

The first year it was built, and the Parks Highway was open, I drove by and noticed that the entire roof had caved in at the middle due to snow load. The owners rebuilt it and it has not fallen since, even with some of Alaska’s deepest snowfall.

Roger Evans April 17, 2021

It’s just a term we use. Tourists & people that don’t live here are outsiders. No harm meant.

AKmomm April 17, 2021

A very interesting topic. Alaska is my dream, even though it must wait until I retire. Thankfully I have heard many stories of good people; friendly, open, and warm people that call Alaska home so I won’t judge them on the condesending tone of your article. Outsiders, really? So your 100% native are you? Ancestors came across the now defunct land bridge theorized to exist millennia ago? If you were then surely you would have stated that, while igloos are not used for permanent residences they were used as shelters for hunting and religious ceremonies. If your plan is to educate people and bring in the all important “Outsider” tourist dollar I recommend an attitude adjustment.

Michelle Schmidt April 17, 2021

Hi Michelle! Thanks for your comment. The term is certainly used in jest and no harm was intended. Obviously we can poke fun at people who don’t live here but of course we enjoy visitors who come to Alaska and share in some of its beauty with us.

Kyle April 17, 2021

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