Top 10 Things to Do on the Dalton Highway
On the road from Fairbanks to Deadhorse there are many amazing stops and drives and vistas along the Dalton Highway. Here are the top 10 with a few bonus stops at the end.
If you’re a fan of Ice Road Truckers, start out at the Carlile Transportation truck yard (like I did) and make your way to the Dalton just like the big rigs do.
Entrance to Dalton Highway
Don’t miss the official entrance and welcome sign to the Dalton about 80 miles north of Fairbanks.
Yukon Bridge / Yukon River Camp
About an hour and half up the road depending on conditions if the famous Yukon River. Enjoy the crossing and stop on the north side for the only restaurant, gas station and shop until Coldfoot Camp.
Pro Tip: the burgers and service are great.
Make like an Ice Road Trucker and take the famous Beaver Slide downhill. Beaver Slide is near mile 110.5 on the Dalton Highway and it is downhill when heading north. The road gradient is approximately 11% straight down and the road is full of potholes and rocks.
Arctic Circle Sign
Nearly five hours north of Fairbanks is the Arctic Circle sign, located at latitude 66.33 North.
It’s a sign. a great place to take pictures and learn a little about the Arctic eco-system at the site.
Coldfoot Camp, AK
60 miles north of the Arctic Circle sign is Coldfoot Camp, which is really a glorified truck stop in the middle of nowhere. Food, lodging, gas and a respite from the road or the water. bare bones, but a welcome stopover.
The little town with more dogs than people, nestled off the Dalton about 16 miles north of Coldfoot. I stayed here three days, but it’s worth a stop in a real Arctic town. Walk across the wooden bridge and check out the Old Wiseman Post Office and Trading Post. (both since closed but the buildings are standing).
The next hour and half to two hours takes you higher up in the Brooks Range to the highest pass on the Dalton, Atigun Pass. Even in the summer when I drove it it is a while knuckle road with switchbacks
Keep an eye out for wildlife and great views.
Toolik Lake Research Center
As you descend Atigun pass the mountains give way to tundra and then you pass the tree line where it’s too north for trees to survive. Welcome to the North Slope.
While the Research center is closed to visitors, the lake is open to the public and it’s a great place to take in the arctic views, do some fishing or have a picnic (I did all three)
Driving further north for three hours you make it to Deadhorse by Prudhoe Bay. More of a oil town than a real town, Deeadhorse provides few amenities to the oil workers who live and work there and the few tourists that make it that far north. Check out the general store and arrange for a guided trip to the Arctic Ocean.
- Gobblers Knob – south of Coldfoot is a great overlook to see the Gates of Arctic national park off in the distance
- Finger Mountain – just south of the article circle sign is a little geographical formation that indigenous peoples used as a hunting lookout for thousands of years to track migrating caribou and musk ox. Climb to the top and look at the landscape little changed over the thousands of years.