Galena is a Koyukon Athabascan village known for its extremes of temperature and its role as a Cold-War era forward operating base for the Air Force.
Galena is situated on the north bank of the Yukon River 270 miles west of Fairbanks in the heart of the western Interior.
The community of 580 residents, the majority of whom are Koyukon Athabascans, Galena can see temperatures higher than 90 degrees in the summer and sustained bouts of minus 40 degrees in the winter. The record low is 64 below zero. The village is not connected to any other communities by road, so the Yukon River is the main way people get to Galena from neighboring villages. It is ice-free from mid-May through mid-October when barges ship in most of the supplies, fuel and other necessities residents need; in winter, the frozen Yukon is an ice road to the villages of Ruby, Koyukuk, Kaltag and Nulato.
Things to do
Every other March, Galena is one of 26 checkpoints for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (The race alternates routes each year, and Galena is on the race’s northern route.) The Iditarod is one of Alaska’s most popular sporting events and the race brings mushers, volunteers and race fans to Galena. The community also hosts the Iron Dog snowmobile race and is the turnaround point for the Yukon 800 Marathon speed riverboat race. The two-day boat race begins in Fairbanks each June and is often called “the longest, roughest and toughest speed boat race in the world.”
Galena is a staging community for adventures into the Koyukuk, Nowitna and Innoko national wildlife refuges. These refuges are part of the vast roadless region that makes up much of northern and western Alaska. Commuter aircraft provide regularly scheduled air transportation from Fairbanks and Anchorage to Galena, where a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office is located. Visitors can then arrange float or fishing trips and charter small aircraft to the start of their wilderness adventure in the refuges.
Galena has limited tourism services and the best source of what is available in town is Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters (800-656-1231).
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
Galena is the center of attention in March when the community serves as one of 26 checkpoints during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Alaska’s most popular sporting event, more than 50 mushers race 16-dog teams along a 1,100-mile route from Willow to Nome, stopping to check-in with race officials in Galena.
Iron Dog Snowmachine Race
Galena serves as a gas stop for the Iron Dog Snowmachine Race, an off-road snowmobile event that stretches 1,971 miles across Alaska. The snowmobile event begins in Big Lake and heads to Nome where the participants then head east for the finish line in Fairbanks, passing through Galena twice.
Yukon 800 Marathon
Galena is the turnaround point for the Yukon 800 Marathon. The two-day boat race begins in Fairbanks each June and is often called "the longest, roughest and toughest speed boat race in the world."