The Dalton Highway is one of the few roads that actually cuts its way through northern Alaska and the only road in Alaska to reach the Arctic Ocean. This remote and rough road runs from north of Fairbanks and ends at Deadhorse in Prudhoe Bay near the Arctic Ocean. The Dalton Highway does not go to Point Barrow - the northernmost point of the United States.
The Dalton Highway was built in the 1970s to service the Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. It has featured in TV shows like the BBC's World's Most Dangerous Roads and America's Toughest Jobs.
Dalton Highway - America's Most Extreme Highway
Those familiar with the TV show Ice Road Truckers will also be familiar with this 414-mile stretch of gravel road. If one was to drive it, one would only find three very small towns along the way, otherwise, the only sign of civilization is the Trans-Alaska pipeline running parallel to the road. This is pure Alaskan wilderness. The Dalton Highway is unpaved and even muddy in places.
The Dalton Highway was built by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company but is now owned and maintained by the State of Alaska and is open to the public year-round. The Dalton Highway first opened to the public in 1994.
- Length: 414 miles or 666 Kilometers
- Opened: 1974
- Type: Unpaved (intermittent pavement)
- Connects: Fairbanks With Prudhoe Bay By The Arctic Ocean
- Starts: Livengood
- Ends: Deadhorse
- Open: Open To The Public Year-Round
On a 240-mile stretch of road, there are no services of any kind. No gas stations, rest stops, hotels, or restaurants.
- 240-Mile Stretch: No Services Between Coldfoot and Deadhorse
This is indeed a lonely road mostly used by truckers servicing the oil industry in Deadhorse. Only the most adventurous of Alaskan tourists hazard this road.
The highway also separates two of Alaska's remote but spectacular national parks - Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Dalton Highway also has the highest pass in Alaska as it crosses the Brooks Range. The pass reaches an elevation of 4800 feet or 1463 meters.
- Highest Pass: Atigun Pass At 4800 Feet
Plan Ahead To Drive The Dalton Highway
If one would like to drive the length of the Dalton Highway, one will need to plan ahead. If one is hiring a vehicle in Alaska, it is likely one will not be permitted to drive along the highway. Most rental car companies in the state forbid their rental cars to be driven on the road. But there are some rental companies that do permit it these include:
- Arctic Outfitters Dalton Highway Car Rentals
- Alaska 4X4 Rentals
- Alaska Overlander
- Alaska Auto Rental
People driving this route need to have plenty of survival supplies, spare parts for breakdowns, and plan for breakdowns where no one will be helping. One should bring extra fuel, water, food, first aid supplies, spare tires, appropriate clothing, and other emergency gear.
Other things to have in mind about traveling the Dalton Highway (and remote roads in general in Alaska) include summer being construction season, the weather being extreme and unpredictable, road conditions being rough, and some gas stations only operating seasonally.
Not only is the Dalton Highway cutting through some of the coldest regions of the Arctic, but it is also one of the remotest roads in the world.
- Signed: Alaska Route 11
Traffic along the route is sparse indeed. There are around 150 trucks navigating the road in the summer and around 250 trucks during the winter.
One can find the current conditions of the road on the Alaskan Government's 511 Traveler Information system.
Tours Of The Dalton Highway
There are a number of guided tours of the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks. One example is a 16-hour Arctic Circle drive that visits the Yukon Rivers and stops by at the Arctic Circle Trading Post. Guests also get breathtaking views of the tundra landscapes around.
- Departure Time: 6.30 am
- Duration: 16 Hours
- Note: Only Part of The Dalton Highway
- Price: From $185.00
On the tour, guests learn about life in rural Alaska, and the tour is fully narrated by a local professional guide. This tour does not drive the full length of the Dalton Highway and does not make it as far as Coldfoot it goes from mile 0 to mile 115.