Day 47: Driving the Haul Road

Day 47: July 1, 2013

If you are a fan of the show Ice Road Truckers you have heard of the Dalton Highway. If not, the Dalton Highway is the road the truckers take to get to the industrial camp at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. The road begins 84 miles north of Fairbanks and ends 414 miles later in Deadhorse on Prudoe Bay. The road was originally called the Haul Road because all of the supplies for Prudhoe Bay were hauled by truck to get there. The Arctic Circle is about at about milepost 115 on the Dalton Highway.

The highway is mostly dirt and gravel with some paved sections. The road follows the Alaska pipeline and was built because of the pipeline. The scenery changes as you go along from birch and spruce forest to tundra. Purple wildflowers bloomed in many of the fields.

The Bureau of Land Managment manages a small campground and picnic area at the Arctic Circle. When we arrived two young women from the visitor’s center in Coldfoot were set up under a tent with mosquito netting. After having our pictures made, we received a certificate for crossing the Arctic Circle! We ate lunch there and decided to continue on to the Visitor’s Center at Coldfoot, another 60 miles north.

The visitor’s center had a lot of interesting displays including a display showing the location of the Arctic Circle all around the world. At the Arctic Circle we were farther north than Moscow, Helsinki, and Stockholm. For both of us we were farther north than we had ever been in our lives.

By the time we finished at the visitor’s center we had been gone from our campground for 7 1/2 hours and had to drive all the way back. With so many miles to go, we only stopped a couple of times on the way home.

It started raining on a dirt portion of the road when we were almost at the end of the Dalton Highway. Henry said driving on the wet dirt road was the worst driving he has had to do this whole trip. When we got back to Fairbanks, we had to stop for road construction at 9:00 at night. Fourteen hours after leaving the campground, we arrived home and collapsed into our chairs. A long day but well worth it.