Published: July 15th 2011July 15th 2011
Thursday, July 7th Chena State Park, Fairbanks 68 degrees and sunny. Starting mileage 10960
Talking with several RTers this morning, convinced us to tag along on their journey up the Elliott and then Dalton Highways toward Prudhoe Bay going as far as the Arctic Circle about 115 miles beyond Livengood. They were leaving camp at 10:30, but we told them we had things to do and would catch up to them. Got fresh water back at Pioneer Park as we couldn’t get close enough to the water faucet at the State Park. Checked our e-mail while we were there.
We then headed north out of Fairbanks on the Elliott Highway that was mostly paved and followed the Alaskan oil pipeline for the 84 miles up to the community of Livengood where the two highways split. The rest of the trip on the Dalton Highway was on a gravel and dirt road [real rough in a lot of places] that is also called the “Haul Road” as it follows the 800 mile long oil pipe line. This is travelled by many 18 wheelers booking it to Prudhoe Bay.
The rules of this road include the fact that the trucks have
the right of way. This road was built in 5 months and the pipeline in 3 years [1974-77]. It was only open to commercial traffic until 1981, when the public was allowed to travel up to milepost 211. It was opened to the public to travel all the way to Deadhorse [498 miles] in1994, but you can’t get to the Arctic Ocean [about 8 miles beyond the town of Deadhorse] unless you are on a tour. This road is open all year round.
To travel the full way to Deadhorse requires a lot of preparation as there are no medical facilities, groceries, telephone service, or much of any services like motels and restaurants. There are only 3 places to get gas on the whole length of the Highway.
We are glad we made the trip even with the rough drive as the scenery was beautiful with masses of fireweed and other flowers blooming along the way. It was also interesting to see the pipeline and realize the enormous effort it took to lay the pipe and now to maintain it. We saw men and trucks plus helicopters working the pipeline.
Crossed over the bridge on the very wide,
swift flowing, Yukon River and stopped at the Yukon River Bureau of Land Management Hut for information. Got very nice heavy certificates that we stamped, for crossing the Arctic Circle even if the actual line is several miles up the road yet. [Seeing the river, put to rest any question we might have had about being able to navigate this river]. Went across the highway to top the tank with enough gas to get up to the Arctic Circle and then back to Fairbanks. We were at 11101 miles and gas was $5.39 a gal. We bought 9.26 gallons at $50.19. This was the only gas station for this section of highway.
The Arctic Circle campground was right on the line. There were 5 RT’s parked there for the night. We were in bed early that night! Hottest it has been and had a hard time sleeping as the inside temp registered 91 degrees—we found it strange that the hottest we have been this trip is at the Arctic Circle!!!
There are more photos below