According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 127.3 square miles (329.8 km²), of which, 122.4 square miles (317 km²) of it is land and 4.9 square miles (12.8 km²) of it (3.87%) is water.
Adak is located on Kuluk Bay on Adak Island in the Andreanof Islands group of the Aleutian Islands. It lies southwest of Anchorage and west of Dutch Harbor, near the Russian end of the arc that makes up this volcanic island chain. Flight time to Anchorage is three hours or longer depending on weather. Adak is the southern-most community in Alaska and on the same latitude as Vancouver Island in Canada, and Brussels, Belgium.
Adak lies in the maritime climate zone, characterized by persistently overcast skies, moderated temperatures, high winds, and frequent cyclonic storms. Winter squalls produce wind gusts in excess of . During the summer, extensive fog forms over the Bering Sea and North Pacific. Average temperatures range from 20 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but wind chill factors can be severe. Total precipitation is 64 inches annually, with an average accumulated snowfall of 100 inches, falling primarily on the upper reaches of the volcanoes.
At its peak, the station housed over 6,000 naval and Coast Guard personnel and their families. In 1994, the base was downsized, and both family housing and schools were closed. The station officially closed on March 31, 1997. The Aleut Corporation purchased Adak's facilities under a land transfer agreement with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Navy/Department of Defense. This agreement was finalized in March, 2004. About 30 families with children relocated to Adak in September 1998, most of them Aleut Corp. shareholders, and the former high school was reopened at that time as a K-12 institution. The community incorporated as a second-class city in April 2001. Substantially all of the infrastructure and faciltities on Adak are owned by Aleut Corporation, who is currently developing Adak as a commercial center via their subsidiary companies. For example, properties in active use are leased by Adak Commercial Properties, LLC.
Since World War II, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard developed outstanding facilities and recreation opportunities at Adak. At its peak, Adak had a college, movie theater, roller skating rink, swimming pool, ski lodge, bowling alleys, skeet range, auto hobby shop, photo lab, and racquetball and tennis courts. A new $18-million hospital was built in 1990, just seven years prior to the closure of the station. By March 2003, six years after the closure of the station, most of these facilities had closed. For a time, Adak became a virtual ghost town, with its buildings showing little sign of wear or disuse. In recent years, preventing trespassing in and vandalism of the unoccupied facilities has become an ongoing struggle for the Aleut Corp. The harsh Aleutian wind and weather has also played a part, all but destroying the majority of facilities remaining on Adak that are not in active use.
There were 159 households out of which 18.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married couples living together, 2.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 61.6% were non-families. 46.5% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.99 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the city the population was spread out with 18.7% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 44.3% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 1.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 184.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 188.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $52,727, and the median income for a family was $53,889. Males had a median income of $46,429 versus $35,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,747. About 3.3% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, none of whom were under the age of eighteen or over the age of sixty-five.
A State of Alaska demographer in 2004 estimated the population at 69.
Because of its naval aviation past, Adak has an unusually large and sophisticated airport for the Aleutian Islands. The airport is currently operated by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation. Complete with an Instrument Landing System, Adak Airport has a control tower and two 200' wide asphalt paved runways at 19' elevation. One runway measures 7,790' long while the other runway measures 7,605'. Alaska Airlines operates twice weekly 737-400 Combi passenger and cargo jet service from Anchorage. At present, flights operate each Sunday and Thursday (weather permitting). Occasionally, extra seasonal flights are operated to meet the demand of the fishing season. Other facilities in Adak include three deep water docks and fueling facilities. The city has requested funds to greatly expand the Sweeper Cove small boat harbor, including new breakwaters, a dock and new moorage floats (Attribution needed). There are approximately of paved and primitive roads on Adak, all privately owned by the Aleut Corporation.
Land use permits are required for all non-residents visiting Aleut Corporation land. Permits can be obtained from the Aleut Enterprise LLC office in Anchorage, or from the Harbormaster at the Port of Adak.
Aleutian Housing Authority (AHA) is the only provider of lodging on Adak, and offers both long-term and short-term accommodations in former Naval officer housing. Housing units are heated, furnished, and include local telephone and cable TV service. It is advisable to make reservations in advance.
The cabins once maintained within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge have fallen into disrepair and are unsafe to occupy. The cabin at Three Arm Bay sits on an archaeological site that was transferred to the Aleut Corporation, and is no longer available for rental to the general public.
Camping is possible without a permit on Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge lands, but is generally not recommended due to the harsh climate. The wind on Adak is highly variable and often unpredictable. Gusts can exceed or more (the record speed is unknown because the wind ripped the anemometer off of the tower). During the calmer summer months, sustained wind speeds average in the low double digits gusting to or more.
Adak offers of paved and gravel roads. These can be explored on foot, by bicycle, or by renting a truck. There is only one vehicle rental business on Adak; ask for Will at the airport when you arrive and he'll rent you the pickup truck.
Hunting and fishing are bountiful sports in Adak. Hunters particularly prize Adak caribou, the largest of which can exceed 700 pounds. There is no bag limit for cows, but in 2007, the Board of Game passed new regulations for bulls. If you want to get to the South end of the island where the majority of the caribou are there are currently two licensed local boat charter services - Aleutian Adventure Tours and Homeward Bound Charters. Anglers can find large to enormous halibut in the Kagalaska Straits. Hunters must possess an Alaska state hunting license and a harvest ticket for each animal taken. Non-residents of Alaska must also possess the appropriate big game tag. Anglers require a sport fishing license. All areas of the island with roads are owned by the Aleut Corporation, and a special permit is required for all non-residents accessing this private property. No ATVs are permitted within the wildlife refuge and the Aleut Corporation only allows ATVs on the roads and trails - not on the tundra. Under Alaska state law, wastage is illegal. Before taking any fish or game, please have a solid plan to either use the meat, ship it home, or give it away.
Audubon enthusiasts generally do not consider Adak as exciting as Attu. That being said, the high winds are a blessing for birders; many vagrants from Asia and elsewhere can be spotted. Indigenous (but often rare) shore birds abound, and eagles are ubiquitous. Visitors not insistent upon scoring "First North America" sightings will find plenty of variety to enjoy.
Developed trails are limited and most are not maintained. It is possible to hike on the tundra, but visitors are advised both to prepare for frequent weather changes and to never hike alone.
Nightlife and dining opportunities are not abundant on Adak. The Aleutian Sports Bar and Grill (aka ASBAG) is located in the former VFW hall. In addition to a fully licensed bar, ASBAG offers pub fare. Across town, libations are also available from the well-stocked liquor store. Bake and Tackle is located in the former high school cafeteria. They sell hot coffee, hot meals, pizzas and box lunches along with groceries and sundries. A larger grocery store operates out of the former Housing Community Center. In August, 2006 the bowling alley (Kuluk Bowl) was being renovated in preparation for re-opening, and has since opened.
The Adak School serves grades K-12.