The folks at this non-profit farm outside Palmer were doing sustainable agriculture long before it was cool before most people used such a term. Located 45 minutes from Anchorage, the Musk Ox Farm provides a fascinating look at the animal reintroduced to Alaska in the 1930s.
Meet the Wooly Mammoth’s Neighbor
The musk ox, one of the Arctic’s oldest living species, once a contemporary of the wooly mammoth and saber-toothed tiger, possesses a soft undercoat called qiviut. In the early 1950s, anthropologist John Jerome Teal Jr. recognized that the best—or sometimes only—way that rural Alaskans could earn a cash income was to leave home and seek work elsewhere. Teal’s dream was to raise a geographically appropriate animal and bring an economic opportunity through gentle and sustainable agriculture—to a part of the world that had previously known none.
Every spring, qiviut, the winter undercoat, is gently hand-combed from the musk oxen on the farm. An expert mill spins the delicate fiber into yarn, and knitters skillfully craft the incredibly warm yarn into hats, scarves, smoke rings (circle scarves), and other garments. Qiviut lacks the lanolin that sheep’s wool has and is free of barbs and scales, making it tremendously soft and easier to wear for many people allergic to other fibers. Qiviut is one of the warmest and softest fibers on earth.
Glorious Scenery and Magnificent Animals
You can take a 45-minute guided walking tour of the farm, where you will see over 70 musk oxen and perhaps even some calves. They might come right up to the fence to greet visitors. Their education staff will talk with you about these unique creatures, whose native name, Oomingmak, translates to “the bearded ones.” Guides will also offer information about this one-of-a-kind working farm.
Of course, don’t leave without checking out the gift shop! You can view and buy gorgeous qiviut products created by fiber artists, a beautiful and lasting souvenirs. They also stock curated items made by local Alaskan artists at all price ranges.
Events on the Farm
The farm is open for tours year-round. Winter visitors can view the herd enjoying the cold weather during their favorite season.
Summer season opens with their beloved tradition, Mother’s Day with Musk Oxen! Mom gets free admission and flowers, and everyone gets to enjoy the frolicking baby musk oxen!
The Musk Ox Farm hosts concerts throughout the season, from local artists to well as known national acts taking advantage of the most beautiful concert venue in all of Alaska.
Check their events calendar for opportunities from fiber arts classes, demonstrations, wildlife talks, readings, and more.
If you’re visiting in August, join the Musk Ox Farm’s annual Running with the Bulls. The challenging 5K/10K trail run traverses pastures, chutes, up and down hills, and passes musk oxen watching the racers from nearby fields. There is also a 1k Kid’s Fun Run. All proceeds help us take care of the animals. Don’t miss out on this uniquely Alaskan one-of-a-kind race!
For another OXTASTIC event, stop by in the fall for Oxtoberfest. This farm-to-table feast celebrates Alaska grown, raised, and crafted to your plate and Alaskan-brewed beers to your pint. Alaska Blaskapelle provides the perfect oompah music for a crisp autumn evening on the farm, surrounded by musk oxen and mountains.
What to Bring
- Dress in layers, as most of the tour is outside
Palmer, AK 99645
From Anchorage:The Musk Ox Farm is located approximately 45 miles north of Anchorage just off the Glenn Highway (Alaska 1). Leave Anchorage on the Glenn highway (Alaska 1). At the Parks Highway interchange, take the Alaska 1 E exit toward Palmer/Glennallen to continue on the Glenn Highway through Palmer. Two miles past Palmer, turn Turn left onto Archie Rd, the farm will be on the left.
Prices & Dates
|Rates||$14 Adult, $12 Senior, $8 Child (5-17)|
|Summer||7 Days a week, tours begin at 10:00 am with the last tour departing at 5:00 pm.|
|Winter||From October 1, closed Mondays & Tuesdays. Hours vary. Please visit website for current winter hours and tour times.|