Quick Facts

  • Pronounced (HEWZ)
  • Current Population 87 (2012 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)
  • Legislative Districts (link to State Legislature page):
    • Senate District T
    • House District 39
    • Judicial District 4
  • Latitude: 66.0489
  • Longitude: -154.2556


Hughes is located on a 500-foot bluff on the east bank of the Koyukuk River, about 115 air miles northeast of Galena and 210 air miles northwest of Fairbanks.


The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average high temperature during July is 70 °F; the average low during January is well below 0 °F. Extended periods of -40 °F are common. The highest temperature ever recorded was 90 °F; the lowest was -68 °F. Average annual precipitation is 13 inches, with 30 inches of snowfall. The Koyukuk River is ice-free from June through October.


Several Native groups have lived in the area, including Koyukon Athabascans and KobukSelawik, 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.

Hughes was used as a trade center between Athabascans and Eskimos. Roy (Frederick) Hughes prospected an area two miles upstream in 1884. But, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the community was named in 1910 after New York Governor Charles Hughes. It served as a riverboat landing and supply port for the Indian River gold fields until 1915 when the local mining industry declined.

The local Natives stayed on, however, and a post office was established in 1942. An airstrip was built in the 1950s, a school in 1956, and a clinic in 1968. The city was incorporated in 1973, and local roads were built in 1974. A community-wide electric system was developed in 1981. In September 1994, flood waters destroyed and swept away nearly all of the community’s buildings, homes, and food caches for the winter. Residents have rebuilt homes and facilities.


Hughes is a Koyukon Athabascan village. Traditional ways of life persist — potlatches and dog races attract visitors from surrounding river villages.

Community profile data provided by the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.