13 Alaskan Towns That Are Made Up (Kaneq, Qyah, etc.)

Have you ever seen a movie or a TV show that took place in Alaska and said, “Oh, that looks like the kind of place I would visit!”?

Some of the places you see are real and filmed in Alaska, like Skagway in the movie “North to Alaska” with John Wayne.

Some are real places but filmed elsewhere, like the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds comedy The Proposal, which takes place in Sitka but was actually filmed at Martha’s Vineyard (an island in Dukes County, Massachusetts).

Then there are those that are not actually real places. I am sorry in advance for disappointing you, but the following locations do not actually exist in Alaska.

13 Alaskans Towns That Aren’t Real Places…

1. Kaneq

Kaneq is a fictional small town outside of Homer, Alaska, that serves as the primary location for the book “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah. It is very remote, making it very similar to the real-life town of Anaktuvuk Pass.

After an injured Vietnam veteran returns home as a changed man and loses his job, he impulsively decides to move his family to Kaneq in rural Alaska.

The novel is an examination of 1970s politics, family relationships, and small-town love and romance. Sony’s TriStar Pictures has purchased the movie rights and plans to release a feature film based on the novel in the coming years.

2. Port Anna

Port Anna, Alaska, also known as “The Rock,” is a fictional town in the book “The Alaskan Laundry” by Brendan Jones.

In the book, a woman named Tara leaves her hometown after her mother’s death to work as a commercial fisher in The Bering Sea. Imagine “The Deadliest Catch,” but even more fictional.

Port Anna is not an actual city in Alaska but is loosely based on Stika, a small town on Alaska’s Panhandle. Sitka, however, is a fishing town in Southeast Alaska, about two thousand miles from the Bering Sea.

3. Delos Crossing

Delos Crossing is a fictional town in the rural Alaskan interior featured in the video game series “Tell Me Why,” available on Microsoft Xbox and Windows PC. Its closest analog is perhaps Goodnews Bay.

Players control fictional twins named Alyson and Tyler Ronan who have supernatural abilities, including the ability to communicate with each other using telepathy.

The game has been praised for its LGBTQ themes including a trans main character, Tlingit and Haida cultural references, and depictions of mental health.

4. Franklin

Franklin, Alaska, is unique on this list in that it is both a former actual town and a fictional one, which is featured in season five of “Criminal Minds.” In real life, Franklin is a ghost town that was the site of the first gold mine in the Alaskan interior. It had a population of five in 1940 but was abandoned in 1948 and now exists as a series of abandoned buildings on the Fortymile River.

In the show, Franklin is depicted as a fishing village of 1,500 people and the home of a serial killer that the team must arrest before he is killed by local vigilantes.

Franklin doesn’t get a comparison because I don’t think associating a real-life town with a monstrous serial killer is a good idea.

5. Elmo

Elmo, Alaska serves as the setting for the television series Men in Trees, which ran from 2006 to 2008 and starred the late Anne Heche.

In the first episode, Heche’s character Marin discovers that her fiancé is cheating on her, so she decides to move to Elmo, Alaska, a small town with a ratio of ten men for every woman.

Although no such city exists in Alaska, the closest real-life counterpart would be downtown Ketchikan.

The show has been described as a cross between CBS’ Northern Exposure (also featured later on this list!) and HBO’s Sex and the City.

6. Port Moore

Port Moore is also the name of a real location and a fictional one, as it serves as the setting for the short-lived SyFy Channel series Ghost Wars.

Like many mystery/thriller/horror media set in Alaska, the show is centered around a small town that has been overrun by supernatural elements.

The actual Port Moore is not a city at all; it is a small bay in the North Slope Borough located near Utqiagvik, the town formerly known as Barrow. This is also the nearest comparison between the fictional city and a real one.

7. Rescue

Rescue, Alaska, is the fictional town that serves as the namesake for the Rescue Alaska novels by Kathi Daley.

In the series, it is a resort town used by hikers and skiers in the northern part of Alaska that is, not surprisingly, overtaken by paranormal activity.

In reality, there are no resort towns in the northern part of Alaska, which only consists of small Native Alaskan villages, work camps, and oil fields. Whether or not there is paranormal activity in the state, I really couldn’t say.

The closest real-life city would be Girdwood, near Anchorage, which is the home of the Alyeska Ski Resort.

8. Garland

Garland, Alaska, is the fictional small town featured in the 2014 Hallmark Original Movie “Christmas Under Wraps,” starring the incomparable Candace Cameron Bure.

Bure’s character plays a doctor who opens a clinic in rural Alaska as a résumé enhancer after being declined from a fellowship. Instead, she may or may not find love and small-town charm (no spoilers).

Despite being set in rural Alaska, most of the movie was actually filmed in a sound studio in California and on location in Utah. The real-life version of Garland would probably be Coffman Cove if it were in the interior instead of the southeast.

9. Qyah

Qyah is the fictional town from the animated children’s show on PBS called “Molly of Denali.” Qyah’s closest real-life counterpoint would be Nikolai, in the interior.

The titular Molly is ten years old and is of Gwich’in, Koyukon, and Dena’ina Athabascan heritage, making the show the first national children’s program to feature an Alaska Native as the main character.

Each episode consists of two stories, with a live-action segment filmed in Alaska in between. This makes it the only entry on this list to have an Alaskan filming component.

10. Mystery

Mystery, Alaska, is the town from the Russell Crowe and Hank Azaria sports dramedy film of the same name.

The film centers around a group of ice hockey players from the town of Mystery who play an exhibition game against the NHL’s New York Rangers.

While Mystery is a fictional town, the closest real-life counterpart to Mystery would likely be Port Alexander on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska.

11. Keelut

Keelut, Alaska, is a fictional location in the Netflix action-thriller film “Hold the Dark,” starring Alexander Skarsgård and Jeffrey Wright.

Without giving too much away, the story involves wolves and the supernatural. Wright’s character is a wolf expert who has been asked to investigate suspicious activity in Keelut.

If the town were to actually exist, it would likely be near Paxson in the Alaskan interior, at the junction of the Denali and Richardson Highways.

12. Kuinak

Kuinak, Alaska, is a fictional fishing village that figures prominently in the 1992 science-fiction novel “Sailor Song” by Ken Kesey.

The protagonist, Ike Sallas, is a former eco-terrorist who spent time in prison as a result of his drug habit.

His desire to escape that past brought him to the small fishing village of Kuinak, one of the last remaining places on Earth to retain its natural beauty instead of being overtaken by corporate developers.

Although Kuinak is a fictional town, it shares many similarities with Sitka, a small fishing village in the Southeast Alaska panhandle.

13. Cicely

Cicely, Alaska, is a fictional town from the classic CBS dramedy Northern Exposure, which explores the lives and relationships of the wacky characters who live in town.

The show begins as a fish-out-of-water story, as many works of fiction surrounding Alaska often do. However, in the later seasons, the story becomes more focused on the lives of the various residents of the town.

Cicely is loosely based on Talkeetna, a small suburb of Anchorage with a population of about 1,000 people.

The connection also fits thematically, as the show begins with Rob Morrow’s character transferring to Alaska under the assumption he’ll be working in Anchorage, but is shocked to learn he’s instead going to the small town of Cicely.


I hope nothing on this list was responsible for dashing your hopes and dreams! Despite the fact that the above cities are fictional, many of them actually do quite a good job of depicting Alaskan towns.

Alaska has everything from large cities to absolutely isolated towns with a population in the single digits. If you’re interested in visiting Alaska (either on a cruise or via land) check out the best cities in Southeast Alaska for cheechakos to visit!

You can also check out what it’s like to live in Juneau (Alaska’s capital) from my experience of 20+ years.