Dalton Highway

The Dalton Highway, known locally as “The Haul Road,” stretches 414 miles between mile 73 of the Elliott Highway to its northern terminus at Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay.  The Dalton is an adventure in and of itself.  It is entirely a gravel road.  There are two reasons to drive this road.  One is to move material and equipment up to the industrial complex situated on the northern coast of Alaska.  The second is just to sightsee.  We recommend giving yourself a minimum of two days to drive all the way to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay.

Parts of the Dalton are incredibly well maintained, so driving the speed limit of 50 m.p.h. is no problem.  There are portions where the ground is very rough.  This road should never be attempted without good sturdy truck tires, and at least one, but better yet two, real (not temporary) spare tires.  Doug and Linda began the road with two spare tires.  They punctured one on the first day of the trip.  Luckily they patched it at the station located on the Yukon River crossing.  The next day they blew two tires in the same spot, one of which completely splintered.  Luckily they had the second spare and the patched tire which lasted until we reached the town of Coldfoot.  In Coldfoot Doug learned that his truck only came with “car tires”.  So he purchased a full set of 10 ply truck tires (70 lbs. of pressure).  From that point on they had no problems with their tires.  Linda did say she could feel the difference between the two sets of tires when it came to the bumps – the truck tires have much less give making the trip bumpier.  But she preferred the bumps to having to change blown tires, or worse yet – to run out of good tires.

Animal spotting could not have been better.  On the way up we spotted a group of mountain goats, a brown bear, and a large heard of caribou.  On the way back down we spotted arctic and red foxes, a lone musk ox and several snowy owls.  We spotted moose in both directions.  During our hike around Castle Mountain we found a herd of Dall sheep.  Cute little ground squirrels run everywhere, and there are snowshoe hares sitting right in the middle of some of the side roads.  Mosquitos are also abundant during the summer months along the Dalton.  Caribou lose a pint of blood a day.  We found we needed to use a combination of mosquito spray and netting to keep them off of us.  Using the great out-of-doors as a restroom presents a multitude of problems.  If you have to use the woods, just keep that spray can handy!

Construction is continual on the Haul Road.  Expect to stop from time to time while an earthmover dumps loads of material and rollers smooth it out.  The road service is very conscientious and works hard to make sure the waits are not longer than 15 minutes.  Be respectful of survey crews and slow down as you pass them.  While they will likely still get dusted, a slow speed will ensure you do not kick up rocks to hit them.  Also, do not stop along the roadway where there are blind turns or rises.  Trucks move through very quickly and have a dangerous job to accomplish.  Blocking them or causing them to swerve quickly is a hazard they can do without.

Services and gas are few and far between along the Haul Road.  Here is a list of the services and points of interest we found along the way and their respective mileposts:

56 - Yukon Ventures Alaska.  Doug had his tire repaired.  We gassed up here and ate lunch.  Across the street we found a visitor’s center with information about the area.  There is a public boat launch here for the Yukon River and a small motel and gift shop.

115 - Arctic Circle wayside.  We stopped to have our picture taken at the arctic circle sign.  Toilet, picnic area, camping, photo opportunity. 

156 - South Fork Koyukuk River.  We found gold here.  Toilet.  Click here to jump to a more detailed description of the adventure.

175 - Coldfoot, Alaska.  Doug purchased a new set of tires and we ate and spent the night here.  Gas, food, tire and auto repair.  Lodging at Slate Creek Inn.  Visitor’s Center. 

180 - Marion Creek Campground.  Toilets, water, campsites.  Click here to jump to a more detailed description of the campground.

188 - Wiseman, Alaska.  Lodging.

235 - Last Spruce.  We had our picture taken at the sign stating the tree behind is the northern most spruce tree.

270 - Parking lot to the west of the road.  We used this to park when we hiked around Castle Mountain.  Click here  to jump to the write up on our Castle Mountain adventure.

274 - Galbraith Lake turnoff.  We drove around past the airport to use the toilet at the end of the road.  This would be a great place to camp, too.  Some bear proof garbage cans stand right next to the toilet.

414 - Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  We stayed here for two nights before heading back down the Haul Road.  Gas, food, lodging, and a tour taking tourists through the industrial park to the Arctic Ocean.  Become a “Polar Bear” by swimming in the Arctic ocean.  Click here for more detailed information on our Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay adventures.

 

 Last Visited: July 2001


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