Visiting the Quirky Town of Chicken, Alaska

welcome-chicken-alaska

Things you need to know about Chicken, Alaska right off the bat:

-The official population is 7, according to census figures.

-There’s no bathroom in downtown Chicken, but there is an outhouse.

-The town got its name because its early residents didn’t know how to spell “Ptarmigan.”

chicken-businesses

The cool thing about the great north is all the kooky small towns. Talkeetna, Alaska is a great one. But Chicken is even quirkier. Because while Talkeetna has a legit business community and nearly 1000 residents. Chicken is way smaller, and that makes it a lot more fun.

I had the pleasure of passing through Chicken last summer. If you want to experience Chicken for yourself, expect quite a journey to get here.

Getting to Chicken, Alaska

There’s not much around Chicken. Fairbanks is about six hours away.

The main route into town is via the Taylor Highway, which is closed from October to March when the snow piles up. Chicken is close to the border of Yukon, Canada, so many adventurers driving from Dawson City into Alaska on the Top of the World Highway end up passing through here.

chicken alaska map

Though it’s fairly remote, Chicken isn’t as deserted as it sounds. In the summer, the population can exceed 100 when miners and other visitors come to town. There’s also an RV park for tourists.

What to see in Chicken, Alaska

Chicken officially covers 115 square miles, but when it comes to businesses, there are only a few, and they’re situated together in a little lot just off the main road.

These businesses represent “downtown Chicken.”

downtown-chicken

chicken-liquor-store

alaska-firearms-sign

At first I thought it was cool that the locals were relaxing and having a drink outside the saloon. But then I realized, Oh yeah… these people don’t live here! The population is 7! The odds are pretty much 100% that these are tourists passing through, just like me.

chicken-creek-saloon

I wasn’t joking about that outhouse. I will say it’s the nicest outhouse I can recall. Will you choose door number 1, 2, or 3?

chicken-alaska-outhouse

We didn’t stay in Chicken long, but we made sure to pop into the gift shop, which had plenty of silly souvenirs available.

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chicken-alaska-gift-shop

How did Chicken, Alaska get its name?

The ptarmigan story is true. In the late 1800s, gold miners in the area kept themselves alive by eating lots of ptarmigan, now the Alaska state bird. So when Chicken became an incorporated town in 1902, they wanted to call it Ptarmigan, but the locals couldn’t agree on how to spell “ptarmigan” and thought it might confuse people.

So they went with Chicken instead.

You just have to visit a town whose existence is based on such a ridiculous founding story, don’t you? Chicken, Alaska awaits you.

town of Chicken, Alaska

21 Comments

  1. My daughter n i put 1put 10978 miles on our truck driving from michigan took every back road we came across, chicken was quite an experience had a agre at time at the saloon lots of laughs, 8 to 10 miles from there we had our windshield shot, we were stopped along million dollar highway letting our 2 dogs out to take a pee when this happened,, this old guy with a beard almost 2 the ground came up and yelled we were jumpi ng his claim, , there isnt any signs any were stating that the side of this road was spmeones claim and you better not stop, he was nasty and so was his smell,, his mark is still in our back seat n our truck, the windshied did not shader just left a hole ,,,

  2. I was in Chicken for many years, may be summer 1995, with my man and our son. We stayed one day and one night there. I remember the owners of the bar and gift shop were young people with two young boys 2 or 2 years old. They had a baby sitter, a young french girl from Lyon who lived in a small beautiful wooden house. It was nice to be there. I’ never forget. If somebody knows something about them, I ‘ be happy to read it. Thanks. [email protected]

    1. I actually spent a the summer 2005 in Chicken employed as bartender. Quite the experience. Sue Wiren the owner and her 2 sons, Wolfgang and Max were were wonderful. However, that was the year that part of Alaska burned, if I recall correctly it was approx. 5 million acres burned. I’ve traveled and worked all over Alaska, and can honestly say that summer in Chicken was probably the most enjoyable and memorable of all. Very unique. I strongly suggest to take the time and explore that area of Alaska. Drive up to Dawson city.

  3. I’m way too disabled to travel like I used to, but I’d love it if someone could send me a small souvenir from your unique and beautiful town. I will gladly send you the cost and postage in advance. In case you want to know I saw your town on an old episode of Building Alaska.

  4. Hey that’s me in the blue T, I am way cool, but yeah, just passing through to that other bird town called Eagle, we all can spell…errr… 20% of us can.

  5. Would you believe I’ve actually heard of Chicken, Alaska before? My aunt stayed in the RV park there. She sent me a postcard, but I’d like to see it for myself.

  6. So I’m still laughing 🙂 Very cool story dude.
    Texas has a few small towns as well and I’m always amused as I drive through them.
    Thanks for this one.
    Why were you way up there?

    1. Thanks for reading, Kerwin! I passed through Chicken when I went to the Yukon a while back. Because of the lack of highways up there, in some cases it’s quicker to cut through Alaska to get from one Yukon town to another.

    2. I have been to chicken Alaska, and he’s right it is a cool place and when I was there it was 5 residents so maybe some babies, I can’t think anyone would actually move there. But is it fun to see

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