Welcome to Waldo Arms Hotel

Welcome to your home-away-from-home at the top of the world! Our goal is to make your stay in the Arctic as comfortable as possible.

Historic & Wild

A historic bunkhouse from the pipeline days, Waldo Arms Hotel is located on the wild and beautiful Barter Island, in the village of Kaktovik, Alaska. Our main attraction is viewing polar bears as they move through the area in the autumn season, and have resources for everything from flights to booking tours.

About Polar Bears

Frequently called “Lords of the Arctic”, These animals are huge. Male polar bears can grow to more than 1,320 pounds and stand at ten feet tall, but despite their massive size, these bears can move with surprising speed.

Polar bears have a highly acute sense of smell. These skilled hunters can pick up a scent from over twenty miles away and can detect the presence of seals under three feet of snow and ice.


Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), pair of young subadult boars play with one another on newly formed pack ice during fall freeze up, along the eastern arctic coast of Alaska, Beaufort Sea
Waldo Arms offers land-based tours to view polar bears from their two buses and can help connect visitors to other local tour businesses for a variety of experiences.
Over the last 14 years, I have been lucky enough to photograph more or less the same population of eastern Beaufort Sea polar bears and their new young that show up each year along the arctic coast of Alaska. 

This is one of my favorite images from 2012, a curious 400 plus lb. adolescent polar bear, Ursus maritimus, boar, taken off Bernard Spit from a skiff on the last day of fall freeze up using a 16 mm fisheye lens at the end of a camera pole. As it approached the skiff and put its paw out, my Inupiaq skiff driver started to back the boat away.

What I feel is so striking about this image is that it gives a feeling of the animal reaching out to the viewer from a place where ice and sky almost seem to swirl around as one, and the light gently brings it all together – the sky, the ice, and the animal, in a grandiose pose of an animal that is still king of it’s environment. 

This population of bears is finding itself in a much more precarious situation during summer months due to large losses of sea ice in this part of the arctic ocean, and soon will face oil and gas development. Sea ice hit an all-time low in September 2012, covering only 24% of the Arctic Ocean, offsetting the previous low of 29% in 2007. 

Taken November 2012, autumn.
Waldo Arms offers 16 individual beds with shared bathrooms and home-cooked meals including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks and drinks, available at the restaurant in the hotel’s comfortable dining room.
Waldo Arms offers transport vehicles for polar bear viewing tours and transportation to and from the airport, including in your stay, and also has tour buses available for rent.

Plan an Unforgettable Experience!