If you look at a map of Alaska, Paxson is a small dot in the eastern part of the state, anchoring the junction of the Richardson and Denali Highways. We are located approximately 300 miles north of Anchorage, 200 miles south of Fairbanks and 300 miles from the Yukon Territory border.
Paxson’s elevation is 2750 ft, right at the edge of treeline before the tundra begins up the Denali Highway. Nestled in the foothills of the mighty Alaska Range, Paxson’s weather is dominated by the mountains and the ocean currents of Prince William Sound.
Paxson’s history and the size of its population over the years has endured several booms and busts. Originally a miner’s camp and roadhouse on the Valdez-Fairbanks trail, the site then languished until the 1950s. Paxson flourished as the “Gateway to Mt. McKinley,” when the Denali Highway opened in 1957 as the sole auto route to Denali National Park, since every traveler wishing to visit this national gem had to pass through Paxson. The opening of the Parks Highway in the mid-70s changed this and the importance of Paxson diminished again. A brief renaissance ocurred with the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, when one of the largest man camps for this colossal engineering project was situated 10 miles north of Paxson’s downtown.
Today, Paxson’s population is around 12. An unincorporated village, one of the few in the state not located in any county or borough, Paxson has no municipal services such as fire, police, schools, libraries, etc. There is no grocery store, no laundromat, no post office…no stores of any kind. And no electrical grid. While the nearest very small grocery is 80 miles away, most folks travel to Fairbanks, over 200 miles, to purchase food and other supplies.
Although Paxson is lucky enough to be on the road system, it nevertheless is remote even by Alaska standards and for many visitors will be the most remote community they visit on their travels.
We believe Paxson is a special place. After living all over the world in rural and extreme urban environments, Audie and Jenny chose here, out of endless possibilites around the globe, to call home. We have here an unusual lifestyle ever more difficult to find in this increasingly homogeneous world. Visiting Paxson is a bit like stepping back into time, into a simpler yet more vigorous and self-sufficient lifestyle. It’s an authentic place which is purely Alaskan, not having turned itself into a tourist trap like many towns visitors put on their itineraries. We like to say, if you enjoy Coen brothers’ movies, you’ll probably enjoy the quirkiness of Paxson. Come visit us and see for yourself!