How to Live Like a Kilcher? The Secrets of “Alaska’s Last Frontier” (2023)


A life off the grid might seem idyllic for some and a complete nightmare for others, but there’s no denying that the concept causes curiosity and awe equally in those who come across it. In the case of the Kilcher family from “Alaska: The Last Frontier”, it’s their alternative lifestyles and sense of belonging to their home which has captivated the hearts of viewers for several years.

Just as any other TV family, the Kilchers aren’t strangers to dramas and unbelievable stories, some of which their audience has no idea about, but what exactly are those secrets about?

Stay with us to know all about the lifestyle of the Kilchers, including their most well-kept mysteries about their family, their current life, and all the things which make them one of the greatest not-so-common clans to ever be featured on TV.

How to Live Like a Kilcher? The Secrets of “Alaska’s Last Frontier” (1)


  • 1 How Did They Get To Alaska?
  • 2 The Family Keeps The Land
  • 3 Going To School Was Difficult
  • 4 Not All The Family Is In The Show
  • 5 They Have Gone Through Rough Times
  • 6 The Learning Experiences
  • 7 The Legacy

How Did They Get To Alaska?

While “Alaska: The Last Frontier” offers its audience a big insight into what it’s like to live off the grid away from civilization, there are still lots of questions regarding the family’s life before the show.

The story of how the Kilchers established in Alaska started in 1936, when an archeologist and journalist named Yule Kilcher moved from his native Switzerland to the US, setting up his home outside of Homer, in Alaska. He came closer to his original idea of creating a community when he was given 160 acres of land by the government, following the then-active national Homestead Law – his land was later increased in size to 660 acres, about 300 hectares

In 1941, Yule married Ruth, a Swiss poet and singer who had lived in the US for a while. The couple welcomed eight children, including future “Alaska: The Last Frontier” stars Atz and Otto. In his mission to convince others to adopt an out-of-the-box, sustainable life in Alaska, Yule documented his family’s homesteading lives as they harvested, fished and hunted for food, while not having electricity or plumbing.

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The movies filmed by Yule turned out to be some of the earliest homestead documentaries ever produced, showing these during his brief returns to Europe in the late 1940s and 1950s. One of these documentaries was “The Last Frontier”, which gave its name to the show we all know nowadays.

The Family Keeps The Land

Several decades have passed since the first Kilcher was established in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay area, but time hasn’t changed a lot of things for the family. For one, the land granted back then to the patriarch Yule remains the same size, as in 1990 he set up the Kilcher Homestead Trust to maintain it undivided and preserve it for generations to come.

Nowadays the Kilchers live in separate cabins on the land, but team up with each to keep the entity whole and alive, including growing their food. That being said, while living in the homestead has modernized a little by adopting commodities such as electricity, other activities such as stacking up wood, fishing, hunting, and harvesting are diligently done by the family members. The place remains mostly without plumbing, which means outhouses are still built, and located near the cabins.

The place also serves as a workshop and camping land for those who wanted to experience the Kilcher homesteading life, at least for a short time. The homestead also has 50-acres allocated for a museum centered on the family’s history.

Going To School Was Difficult

The Kilcher children didn’t have a common childhood, especially when it came to their education. Given that elementary school was too far away from their Kachemak Bay-based homestead, Ruth Kilcher homeschooled the children through a correspondence course.

I love meeting my fans and what better place to spend an afternoon together than the Eagle's Rest cabin I built on the border of the Kilcher Homestead. My sister Catkin & I are looking forward to hosting you there on July 28 before the Folk School concert:

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— Atz Kilcher (@akilcher) July 15, 2018

It was later in their teens that the children finally attended school by themselves, with the highlight being that Atz became an accomplished high school athlete during those years. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of educational resources for the Kilcher kids, as the house was allegedly filled with magazine, and books, and were passed down the knowledge of their multilingual parents, according to a conference they offered in 2016.

The children were also heavily influenced by their mom Ruth when it came to their musical tastes, singing, and instrument-playing skills. However, the kids still helped out their parents in keeping up the homestead, apparently doing equal jobs regardless of their gender or age.

Growing up on a homestead doesn’t sound easy, but it was most likely a compelling experience which sets the Kilchers apart from most families in the world.

Not All The Family Is In The Show

Although “Alaska: The Last Frontier” gives us the feeling that we know all the members of the Kilcher family, the truth is that we don’t see many of them on screen.

The only children of Ruth and Yule appearing in the show are Atz and Otto – their six sisters Wurtilla, Catkin, Fay, Stellavera, Mossy and Sunrise hardly appear in I at all. As it’s known, most of them still live in the homestead, but some have taken different paths in life. As Sunrise said in a 2016 conference, during which she reminisced on the times she lived in Alaska – ‘It brings home to me what a big, long full circle I’ve made, and it’s a real gift to me just to be aware of who I am. It’s such a part of who I am and I’ve taken that for granted’.

On the other hand, some Kilchers don’t appear in the show for other reasons than living away. Such is the case of Atz Lee and his wife Jane’s children, who weren’t featured in the show during their early childhood and teens, due to their parent’s choice of protecting them from public life. Some other members of the family refrain from appearing in the show for unknown reasons.

They Have Gone Through Rough Times

Normally, few people have the chance of growing up or even living some time on a homestead. However, the experience of living away from civilization and working hard at home is not what the Kilchers mean when they say they had a rough childhood.

As Atz Kilcher opened up in 2018’s memoir “Son of a Midnight Land”, he was the subject of his father’s anger issues and humiliation. According to Atz, this toxic and abusive behavior reflected on him in the form of alcoholism and physical hurting of his own kids as well.

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The issues are also touched on in the memoir “Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story”, in which Atz’s daughter and Grammy-nominated singer Jewel opened up about dealing with her father’s alcoholic tendencies and violent behavior, eventually pushing her to leave home at an early age to pursue a music career: ‘I was determined to heal: to let go, move on and figure out how I could be the one who changed those habits’, she told People in 2020.

After he sobered up for good, Atz and Jewel reconciled and rebuilt their relationship, but it’s a different case for Jewel and her mother, who’ve remained estranged from each other for over 20 years, as Jewel discovered that her mother has been scamming her during the years she worked as her manager.

The Learning Experiences

As seen in “Alaska: The Last Frontier”, the Kilchers are very appreciative of the life they have, holding to their principles and alternative ways of living. The most remarkable lessons to learn from them have to do with the importance of family, being genuine, and working hard.

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The Kilchers are very well aware of the things that growing up the way they did taught them. In the case of Jewel Kilcher, being a homesteader for most of her early life stopped her from becoming overwhelmed by fame and money, instead choosing to stay grounded while following her path in the entertainment industry, as she told Channel Guide Magazine in 2016.

Despite not living in Alaska, Jewel keeps the Kilcher values alive, and teaches them to her young son Kase, who visited the homestead for the first time in 2016. She’s not the only member of the family who warmly remembers the homestead, though: ‘Every single one of us, despite having maybe gone off and started families elsewhere, still loves this place for what it is and what we truly believe it can be’, as Otto Kilcher’s son August told Alaska’s News Source.

The Legacy

When it comes to the legacy built by the Kilchers, it’s inevitable to talk about their contributions to their beloved Alaska. On one hand, Yule Kilcher was not only an adventurer, filmmaker, and homesteader, but was also a politician who impressively helped write Alaska’s Constitution.

For her part, Ruth’s legacy went beyond homesteading and educating her children, to also influence them artistically and musically. Some of her children followed this artistic career path, such as oldest daughter Mossy and son Atz, who in 2022 was awarded by the American Society Of Composers for his “Alaska: The Last Frontier” theme song.

Ruth’s granddaughter Jewel is the most recognized for her talent, having sold over 30 million albums since her musical debut in the late 1990s. That being said, “Alaska: The Last Frontier” is one of the most remarkable parts of the Kilchers’ legacy, as it’s contributed to spreading the word about environmental conservation, and alternative ways of living.

All in all, there are many secrets about the lifestyle of the Kilchers, but the things we know about them such as their beginnings, the way they were raised, the hard work they dealt with in and around the homestead, and the experiences they’ve lived through, leave no doubts about how inspiring they are.


How do the people on Alaska: The Last Frontier make a living? ›

For eight seasons, the Discovery Channel has profiled the lives of the Kilcher family on Alaska: The Last Frontier. Living in Homer, Alaska, without modern luxuries like plumbing and heating, the Kilchers survive by farming and hunting.

How realistic is Alaska: The Last Frontier? ›

The Kilchers Are Never In Any Real Danger

As is so often the case with reality television, the "reality" being presented is almost entirely fictitious. Many episodes attempt to spin mundane occurrences into life-threatening accidents, but the truth is often much less interesting.

Do the people on Alaska: The Last Frontier really live there? ›

The homestead is located around 11 miles away from the town of Homer, Alaska. To answer the question "Do the Kilchers still live on the homestead?", the answer is yes, they do. It is the prime Alaska The Last Frontier filming location.

Can you stay with the Kilchers? ›

If you want to take a deeper dive into homesteading, you can even spend the night on the property in one of the cabins available on Airbnb. You'll see the Kilchers as they go about their lives and enjoy more opportunities to chat with them about their history and homesteading activities.

How to move to Alaska and get paid? ›

In the past, citizens have qualified for up to $1,600 for simply living in Alaska, and in 2022 the amount was $3,284. All you have to do to receive this grant is to remain in the state for an entire dividend year! Added bonus? Alaska has no state tax.

How do Alaskan homesteaders make money? ›

Most of the farmers sell their products through their cooperative, which operates a creamery in Palmer and a dairy in Anchorage. Dairy farming has proved profitable for farmers, but they have found it best to raise from their farms all the vegetables and food crops they can for family living.

Does Finley have Down syndrome? ›

For those unfamiliar with Finley's story, he was born with Down Syndrome. He and his mother, Brittney Hiebert, have advocated for inclusion ever since.

How long would it take to get from one end of Alaska to the other? ›

Alaska Travel Distances & Travel Time

To give you some specifics, to travel from Anchorage to Denali it takes approx. 5 hours driving time or 8 hours by rail. To travel from Anchorage to Seward (gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park) it takes approx. 2.5 hour driving time or 4 hours by rail.

What happened to Heimo and Edna Korth? ›

He left Wisconsin as a young man in 1975 and moved to Alaska, not to be famous or well known, but to live self sufficiently and get away from it all. But over time, Heimo Korth became a legend. Today, Heimo and his wife Edna live more remotely than anyone else in Alaska.

How old is Otto on Alaska: The Last Frontier? ›

What town is Alaska: The Last Frontier filmed in? ›

Alaska: The Last Frontier
Executive producersDaniel Soiseth Grant Kahler Cameo Wallace Philip Day
Production locationFritz Creek, Alaska
Camera setupMultiple
Running timeApprox. 44 min (excluding commercials)
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Why are the Kilchers filming themselves? ›

The Kilchers have lived on their homestead for 80 years and they ain't going nowhere — even when others definitely have to. This season, when film crews had to be evacuated just nine days into production due to the growing global pandemic, The Kilcher clan elected to film themselves for the next 10 weeks.

Do the Kilchers have indoor toilets? ›

House rules. Also note: Are you ok with the outhouse and optional outdoor shared shower? There's no Indoor toilet, though we do have kitchen hot running water. .

Did someone get hurt on Alaska: The Last Frontier? ›

In 2015, Atz was hiking in Otter Cave near Homer, AK, when he fell off a cliff. In a press release shared by his wife, Jane, the extent of his injuries were revealed. "Atz Lee Kilcher, an experienced hiker, suffered a terrible fall when hiking in Otter Cove," she wrote on Facebook.

Who got divorced on Alaska: The Last Frontier? ›

Atz and his ex-wife Lenedra Carroll have three children together — Shane Kilcher, Atz Lee Kilcher, and Jewel Kilcher. So, what happened to Atz's former wife? Lenedra and Atz initially married in the late '60s before ultimately divorcing two decades later.

What is minimum wage in Alaska? ›

Alaska is one of 29 states with a minimum wage above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The minimum wage in Alaska was $10.19 throughout 2020 and will increase to $10.34 on January 1, 2021. Notably, Alaska does not allow a tip credit against the state's minimum wage.

Is it hard to find a job in Alaska? ›

Alaska has adequate numbers of qualified people to fill most jobs. A Caution: Exercise caution when you see books or ads that guarantee "big money jobs" in Alaska. Many simply offer names of companies and require you to find your own job. The information provided is often inaccurate.

Where is the cheapest place to live in Alaska? ›

Here Are The Cheapest Places to Live in Alaska
  • Juneau: Alaska's Capital City. ...
  • Kenai: A Picture-Perfect Fishing Village. ...
  • King Cove: A Nature Lovers' Paradise. ...
  • North Pole Revisited. ...
  • Palmer. ...
  • Can I afford to live in Alaska? ...
  • Be Prepared to Negotiate. ...
  • Find a Realtor to Help You Buy a Home.
Feb 13, 2023

Can you still claim free land in Alaska? ›

No. Homesteading ended on all federal lands on Oct. 21, 1986. The State of Alaska currently has no homesteading program for its lands.

Can you still get free land in Alaska to Homestead? ›

The Homestead Act was finally repealed in 1976, but a provision of the repeal allowed for homesteading to continue in Alaska until 1986. The last Homestead to be awarded under the provisions of the Homestead Act was in 1988.

Can you legally homestead in Alaska? ›

No. Homesteading ended on all federal lands on October 21, 1986. The State of Alaska currently has no homesteading program for its lands.

Do Downs parents have Down's babies? ›

In almost all cases, Down's syndrome does not run in families. Your chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases as you get older, but anyone can have a baby with Down's syndrome.

Can Downs parents have normal children? ›

Many pregnancies in women with Down syndrome produce children both with normal and with trisomy 21, whereas males are infertile. However, Down syndrome males are not always infertile and this is not global. Here we reported a 36-year-old man with proved nonmosaic trisomy 21 fathered two normal boys.

What singer has Down syndrome? ›

Global Down Syndrome Foundation 2011 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award Recipient. Sujeet Desai is an accomplished musician born with Down syndrome.

What is the most popular car in Alaska? ›

Two of the most popular vehicles in Alaska are the Subaru Outback and the Subaru Legacy Wagon. If you go for one of the Subaru wagons, just make sure you remember where you parked. Chances are, many other people have made the same car choice!

What is the least traveled interstate? ›

The answer to the trivia question of which is the loneliest road in the United States: James W. Dalton Highway, which spans 414 miles between Fairbanks and Deadhorse in Alaska. An interactive map allows exploration of the loneliest road in all 50 states.

Can Alaska be reached by car? ›

You can drive to Alaska from anywhere in the United States except Hawaii. From the majority of USA, you need to take the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek in British Columbia except California, Oregon and Washington State where the Dease Lake Highway is a better route to Yukon.

Where are the seldens now? ›

After about six months of their refuge lifestyle, the Seldens packed up for a 250-mile trek to Fairbanks. That's where they live until it's time to return to the cabin. Their trapping permit states they cannot live there year-around.

Where do the cameramen stay on The Last Alaskans? ›

While the subjects themselves live in cabins, crew members lived in tents nearby, even in -50 degree weather. “Those cabins can't be used for commercial use. They would go in once or twice during the year for a communal meal, out of bonding and respect, but [the crew] had to stay outside.”

Where is Heimo and Edna today? ›

Heimo Korth is an American outdoorsman. He and his wife Edna are among the few permanent residents of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Do the people on Alaska Bush People get paid? ›

Not only is the family earning a paycheck for each episode, but they also have money coming in from other sources. According to The Sun, the Alaskan Bush People family's net worth is $60 million, and Billy reportedly had a personal estimated net worth of $6 million upon his passing, as per InTouch Weekly.

How do the last Alaskans make money? ›

For money, they trap animals like Canadian lynx, wolves, wolverines, martens, fox and beavers. “You target whatever's abundant,” says Tyler. “We trap 'em, skin 'em, put 'em up, dry 'em out and feed the carcasses to our dogs or ourselves. We keep the skulls and everything; we make as much money off an animal as we can.”

What does ATZ Lee do for a living? ›

A singer-songwriter is a musician who writes, composes, and performs their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies. In the United States, the category is built on the folk-acoustic tradition, although this role has transmuted through different eras of popular music.

How does eivin kilcher make money? ›

I earn a living by working my excavator and bulldozer to do dirt work/ heavy landscaping for people in the community. Eve also trades and sells eggs, and vegetable produce at a local farmers market and to her CSA members. These means of employment are enough to buy fuel and things that we can't grow or make ourselves.

How much does Snowbird make on Alaskan Bush People? ›

Birdy reportedly earns between $5,000 and $8,000 per episode on Alaskan Bush People.

How do the Alaskan Bush People have money? ›

In addition to his role on the reality show, Billy made money as an author. His first published book was One Wave at a Time from September 2007, followed by The Lost Years from January 2009. He was also able to provide for his family as an outdoorsman, where he hunted for their food.

How much are Alaska Bush kids worth? ›

By the time the series started, he was 22 years old. According to outlets like Famous People Today, Noah's net worth amounts to $500,000. Reportedly, he along with the rest of his family is worth up to $60 million, with each child earning anywhere between $40,000 to $60,000 per season.

Do Alaskans still receive oil money? ›

In 1976, Alaska voters amended their state constitution to establish the Permanent Fund and require that at least 25% of the state's oil and mineral royalties be deposited into it. Money from the fund's earnings is used to supplement the state's general fund as well as pay dividends to eligible residents.

Do Alaskans get paid monthly? ›

Since 1982 every qualified Alaskan resident does indeed get paid just for living here, once-a-year, in the form our truly unique Permanent Fund Dividend disbursements.

How much do Alaskans receive each year? ›

Annual individual payout
YearDividend amount (USD)Inflation-adjusted dividend amount (2021 USD)
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Is Otto and Charlotte still married? ›

Charlotte and her current husband Otto Kilcher have been together since the 90s. They both met at a volunteer work to save birds, fell in love, and got married.

Are Bonnie and ATZ still married? ›

Are Atz and Bonnie still together? According to Bonnie's Instagram, the two are very much still together and in love. The couple have been traveling together, and were most recently in Boston. She captioned the picture of her husband: “Enjoying as much local cuisine here in Boston as we can fit in.

How much is Otto worth on Alaska: The Last Frontier? ›

Otto Kilcher net worth: Otto Kilcher is an American mechanic and reality television personality who has a net worth of $4 million dollars. Born in Alaska, Otto Kilcher grew up raising cattle on his family's farm.

Where is Alaska Frontier filmed? ›

Alaska: The Last Frontier
Executive producersDaniel Soiseth Grant Kahler Cameo Wallace Philip Day
Production locationFritz Creek, Alaska
Camera setupMultiple
Running timeApprox. 44 min (excluding commercials)
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