Willow, AK

Willow, Alaska, spans about 30 miles of the Parks Highway, north of Anchorage.
 
Mostly spread out and rural, the approximately 1200 residents represent an economically diverse spread. With easy access to Anchorage, Willow is a favorite spot for many weekenders who want to get out of the city for the ‘real Alaska’ experience.
 
Anything from simple small cabins to extensive second homes are spaced throughout the area. Intermixed with this is one of the most impoverished areas of the state. Many people live completely ‘off the grid,’ with no electricity, water, or fuel source other than wood. Many houses are temporary-turned-permanent, and not necessarily designed for winter weather.
 
Since temperatures here can dip well below zero and stay there, and the snow fall can exceed 9-10 feet per winter, this creates some real challenges for people in those conditions. The primary employment includes dog sled trainers and flight-guides for hunting and fishing. Beyond this and such things as teachers and services, employment opportunities are primarily based in communities roughly 30-40 miles away.
 
Willow is somewhat central to much of the state’s road system, and was once even considered as a site for the state capital. Because of its location and accessibility, many great recreational, historical, and scenic locations are readily available within a day’s drive.