Is Chicken, Alaska, Worth Visiting?

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An RV driving on the highway past a welcome to Alaska sign.

You’ll come across some funny city names across America, such as Why, Arizona, and Sandwich, New Hampshire. Alaska has its own unique cities: Unalaska, North Pole, and Chicken. Yes, Chicken, Alaska, is a real town! 

It’s a pretty important town along the Top of the World Highway, too, because it’s one of the only stops on the long journey between Tok and Dawson City, Yukon.

Today, we’re giving you a few reasons to make sure you stop in Chicken, Alaska, the next time you’re road-tripping through the Last Frontier!

Where Is Chicken, Alaska?

Chicken, Alaska, sits along Highway 5, also known as the Top of the World Highway and the Taylor Highway. It’s about 42 miles west of the border between Alaska and Canada. 

It lies about 65 miles north of Tetline Junction, the western starting point for the Top of the World Highway. And it’s about 107 miles from Dawson City, Yukon, the eastern starting point along the highway.

If you’d like to read more about the Top of the World Highway, check out our article “How to Safely Drive the Top of the World Highway.”

A chicken statue in Chicken, Alaska.
Source: Travel Alaska

What Is Chicken, Alaska, Known For?

The story about its name explains that early settlers wanted to call the town “Ptarmigan” after the popular game bird that lived in the area. However, because they couldn’t agree on the spelling, they decided on “Chicken” instead. 

Other than its comical name, Chicken, Alaska, is known for its early gold rush settlement. Miners traveled to the region in the late 19th Century, and in 1902, the local post office was established.

Today, you’ll find several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Pedro Dredge. It still has active gold mines, and Chicken is the outpost for the Fortymile Mining District.

5 Best Things to Do in Chicken, Alaska

The Taylor Highway is the Alaskan side of the Top of the World Highway.

The route begins in Tetlin Junction and travels northeast toward the Canadian border, where it becomes Yukon Highway 9. It’s a long, remote highway with paved and unpaved sections. Chicken, Alaska, sits at Milepost 66.

When travelers come upon Chicken, they can feel relief because it’s one of the few places with amenities along this highway. Although only 12 people were residents during the 2020 Census, the town caters to tourists and has various attractions for weary travelers.

1. Paddle the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River

The Fortymile River has been designated a Wild and Scenic River and is under the management of the Bureau of Land Management. 

It’s the longest system within the National Wild and Scenic River network, with 392 miles receiving this special designation. 

As you float or paddle the Fortymile River, you’ll see remnants of Alaska’s mining history along the shoreline. The alpine tundra and boreal forest landscape offer spectacular scenery.

2. Attend Chickenstock in June

Try to make it to Chicken, Alaska, for the annual Chickenstock Music Festival. It’s a family-friendly weekend with local foods, craft beer, arts and crafts, and live entertainment from local artists.

As the website states, “Come shake your tail feathers ‘under the Midnight Sun’…and prepare yourselves to have a ‘Cluck’n Good Time’!”

3. Try Panning for Gold

Get a glimpse into the past by panning for gold at the Chicken Gold Camp. If you stay on property, you can pan or mine for gold for a cheaper daily fee. 

You can use pans, metal detectors, hand sluices, small suction dredges, and high bankers. A shuttle runs to transport tourists out to the creek and back. And whatever you find is yours to keep!

Pro Tip: Before you start panning for gold, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Panning for Gold in Alaska!

Panning for gold in a  creek in Chicken, Alaska

4. Visit the Pedro Dredge National Historic Site

The Pedro Dredge was shipped to Pedro Creek in Alaska in 1938, where it operated until 1958. Then, it was shipped to Chicken, Alaska, where it operated until 1967. 

In 2005, the dredge opened to the public, and in 2006, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours run every season, and visitors can also see old gold rush equipment and buildings on the property.

Historical Alaskan Dredge in the water at Pedro Dredge National Historic Site in Chicken, Alaska.

5. Grab a Bite to Eat at the Chicken Creek Outpost

The Chicken Creek Outpost is where everything happens in Chicken, Alaska. It houses a café, espresso bar, and gift store and provides Wi-Fi access. 

Order a wood-fired pizza, cool off with a hand-dipped ice cream cone, or sip an Alaskan microbrew. The gift shop has all kinds of gifts and souvenirs, like apparel, hats, jewelry, pottery, and more.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Chicken, Alaska?

The Taylor Highway closes in the winter. Therefore, the best time to visit Chicken, Alaska, is during the summer. 

You’ll also enjoy more daylight hours because of the summer solstice and pleasant weather. Highs are usually around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows in the 40s during this time of year.

Keep in Mind: Have you heard about Nantiinaq, Alaska’s Terrifying Monster? You may think twice about visiting after learning about this creature!

Is Chicken, Alaska, Worth Visiting?

Even though Chicken, Alaska, may seem cut off from the rest of the world — especially during the winter season — it’s a fun place to stop for a day or two as you road trip between Alaska and Canada. 

It’s about the only stop you have to grab food, stay overnight, and enjoy a couple of touristy attractions along the Top of the World Highway. So you better plan to stop unless you want a really long drive day!

Have you ever heard of Chicken, Alaska?

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