2nd Class City
in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (bet' ullz); formerly Bettles Field
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Geography and Climate
- Bettles is located about 180 air miles and 250 road miles northwest of Fairbanks, adjacent to Evansville. It lies just north of the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge. Bettles is located on the S.E. bank of the Koyukuk River.
- The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average high temperature during July is 70 °F. The average low temperature during January is well below 0 °F. Extended periods of -40 °F are common. The highest temperature ever recorded was 93 °F, and the lowest was -82 °F. Average annual precipitation is 13.4 inches, and average annual snowfall is 77 inches.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Several Native groups have lived in the area, including Koyukon Athabascans and Kobuk, Selawik, and Nunamiut Eskimos from the north and northwest. The Koyukon lived in several camps throughout the year, moving as the seasons changed, following the wild game and fish. "Old Bettles," located 6 miles from the present community, was named for Gordon Bettles, who opened a trading post during the 1899 gold rush. Old Bettles was the northern terminal of the Koyukuk River barge line, and a post office operated there from 1901 to 1956. Today, the new site of Bettles is also known as Bettles Field. The Bettles Runway was constructed in 1945 by the U.S. Navy under Navy Contract Noy-12081 with Lytle and Green Construction as contractor. The U.S. Navy used these facilities as a support base for exploring National Petroleum Reserve. Later, the FAA took over the runway and its maintenace. Work opportunities at Bettles Field attracted both Natives and non-Natives to the new airfield. Wilford Evans, Sr., opened a sawmill at the present site of Evansville and built the Bettles Lodge and General Store. A post office was established at the Bettles Lodge in 1950. A school was constructed in 1956. A health clinic opened in 1980. Bettles incorporated as a city during 1985. The city boundaries do not include the Village of Evansville.
- Residents of Bettles are both Native and non-Native. The school was closed in 2002, due to low enrollment.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Hall, Roads, Ice Roads, Parks & Recreation, Fuel Tank Farm
- During four months of the year, the Bettles Winter Road, a 30-mile winter trail, gives residents access to the Dalton Highway, which leads to Fairbanks. The Koyukuk River is used in the summer, but no commercial barge is available. The state-owned airport is classified as a transport center, with a manned FAA contract weather station, a gravel runway, and a float pond. Trucks, cars, snow machines, and ATVs are used for local transportation.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District