Wainwright is on the Chukchi Sea coast, 3 miles from the Kuk River estuary in the North Slope Borough
. The region around Wainwright was traditionally well-populated, though the present villae was not established until 1904, when the Alaska Native Service built a school here. The majority of the population today are Inupiat Eskimos. Air travel provides Wainwright's only year-round access.