Pronounced “toke,” it rhymes with “poke.” Tok is the only town in alaska where you must drive through twice, once when you arrive in the state, and again when you leave.
Location / Coordinates: Tok, Alaska is part of an unorganized borough. Tok is the junction between the Alaska Highway and the Tok Cutoff to the Glenn Highway. Tok is south of Fairbanks about 200 miles, about 325 miles north of Anchorage and a little over 90 miles from the Canadian border.
Coordinates: Latitude N63.33 & Longitude W142.98
Population / Elevation: Tok, Alaska is just over 1600 feet above sea level. Roughly 1500 people call Tok home.
Description: Tok, Alaska is pretty spread out along the Alaska Highway and the Tok Cutoff to the Glenn Highway. Black spruce trees are everywhere on this flat wide open area called Tok. Tok is the transportation, business, service and governmental center for the Upper Tanana region. Many incomes depend heavily on the tourist season with RVs traveling into and out of the state.
Tok is a modern city in every way today. With power, telephone service, local health centers, and emergency services have highway and air access.
Remote, quiet, and low key, Tok, is a great place to live. Many residents live the subsistence lifestyle, hunting moose, bear, rabbit grouse, and ptarmigan.
What to do there: Tok, Alaska welcomes travelers coming into the state from Canada with Fast Eddy’s—great pie, and pizza. Mostly, Tok is a place to stay on your way to or from Canada. There a few nice gift shops, and Native Craft Shops. Tok is a great place for biking as it has few hills. Sled dog trails and races are always a favorite activity in Tok. Racing begins in late November and goes through March depending on the snow conditions. There are several fishing lakes along the Alaska Highway between Tok and Delta Junction—full of Rainbow Trout. In the late summer season, berry picking is a popular activity.
History: Tok, Alaska got its start as a Alaska Road Commision camp for the Alcan Highway. Dubbed the Million Dollar Camp by those working on the highway because so much money was spent on Tok’s construction and maintenance.
Tok may have gotten its name from the 97 Engineers. One of three black regiments (the 93rd, the 95th, and the 97th Engineer General Service Regiments), constructing the Alcan Highway. These black troops came into their own in the military and they were instumental in the integration of blacks into all units during the Korean Conflict. The 97th was building the Alcan north from Slana on what is now the Tok Cutoff and working their way to the pint where they would intersect with and head southeast on what is now the Alaska Highway. Supposedly, the 97th had an husky puppy named Tok as their mascot. When the 97th reached the point where Tok is now located they decided to name the camp after their mascot.
Since the completion of the Alcan in 1946, Tok added a post office and a roadhouse, schools were built and people relocated to Tok. Tok was nearly wiped off the map in July 1990 when a forest fire caused by lightning jumped two rivers and the Alaska Highway. The fire roared towards town, everyone was evacuated, over a thousand firefighters battled the blaze in vain, then the “Miracle Wind” shifted and diverted the fire just short of Tok. Eventually over 100,000 acres around Tok burned that summer.
How to get there: Most visitors drive to Tok, coming up from the Lower 48 through Canada, or heading back home. The Alcan Highway (Alaska Canada Highway), comes through Tok on the way to Fairbanks. Tok does have an unattended gravel airstrip, about 3000 feet long, no services or fuel available.
Facilities: Tok, Alaska is the first big town upon arriving in Alaska and the last big town upon leaving Alaska for supplies. There are numerous gift shops, B&Bs, motels, camp sites, and restaurants in Tok. It’s always a good idea to make reservations or call ahead for availability, especially during the summer season.
RV info: Tok, Alaska offers several RV Parks with full hookups, RV washes, Laundromats, showers, dump stations. Many are members of Good Sam and AAA.