Dalton Highway

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Alaska Route 11 marker

Dalton Highway
James W. Dalton Highway
North Slope Haul Road
Route information
Maintained by Alaska DOT&PF
Length: 414 mi (666 km)
Existed: 1974 – present
Major junctions
South end: AK-2 (Elliot Highway) near Livengood
North end: East Lake Colleen Drive in Deadhorse
Location
Boroughs: Unorganized, North Slope
Highway system
AK-10 AK-98

The James W. Dalton Highway, usually referred to as the Dalton Highway (and signed as Alaska Route 11) is a 414-mile (666 km)[1] road in Alaska. It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Once called the North Slope Haul Road (a name by which it is still sometimes known, and it is labeled as such on Google Maps), it was built as a supply road to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in 1974. It is named after James Dalton, a lifelong Alaskan and an engineer who supervised construction of the Distant Early Warning Line in Alaska and, as an expert in Arctic engineering, served as a consultant in early oil exploration in northern Alaska.[2]

Route description[edit]

Mile 256 on the Dalton Highway, north of the Continental Divide in the Brooks Range.
The highway facing south from Deadhorse, near the Arctic Ocean.

The highway, which directly parallels the pipeline, is one of the most isolated roads in the United States. There are only three towns along the route: Coldfoot (pop 13) at Mile 175,[3] Wiseman (pop 22) at Mile 188,[3] and Deadhorse (25 permanent residents, 3,500-5,000 or more seasonal residents depending on oil production) at the end of the highway at Mile 414.[3] Fuel is available at the E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge (Mile 56), as well as Coldfoot and Deadhorse.[3] Two other settlements, Prospect Creek and Galbraith Lake, are uninhabited except for seasonal residents.

The road itself is very primitive in places, and small vehicle and motorcycle traffic carries significant risk. Approximately 1 in 50 motorcycles who drive the Dalton will crash, and the nearest medical facilities are in Fairbanks and Deadhorse. Anyone embarking on a journey on the Dalton is encouraged to bring survival gear.

Despite its remoteness the Dalton Highway carries a good amount of truck traffic: about 160 trucks daily in the summer months and 250 trucks daily in the winter.[3] The highway comes to within a few miles of the Arctic Ocean. Beyond the highway's terminus at Deadhorse are private roads owned by oil companies, which are restricted to authorized vehicles only. There are, however, commercial tours that take people to the Arctic Ocean. All vehicles must take extreme precaution when driving on the road, and drive with headlights on at all times. There are quite a few steep grades (up to 12%) along the route, as well.

As of July 2013, 109 miles (175 km) of the highway are sealed, in several sections, between the following mileages: 19 and 24; 37 and 50; 91 and 111; 113 and 197; 257 and 261; 344 and 352; and 356 and 361.

Truckers on the Dalton have given their own names to its various features, including: The Taps, The Shelf, The Bluffs, Oil Spill hill, Beaver Slide, Two and a Half Mile, Oh Shit Corner,[4][5][6] and the Roller Coaster. The road reaches its highest altitude as it crosses the Brooks Range at Atigun Pass, 4,739 feet (1,444 m).

The highway is the featured road on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth seasons of the History reality television series Ice Road Truckers, which aired May 31, 2009 to present. It is also the subject of the second episode of America's Toughest Jobs and the first episode of the BBC's World's Most Dangerous Roads featuring Charley Boorman and Sue Perkins.[7]

Google Street View has coverage of nearly the entire highway, which can now be seen on Google Maps (imaging stops at the security gate leading to the Prudhoe Bay oil field). It is one of the most northerly routes of Google street view in North America.

Major intersections[edit]

Borough Location Mile[8] km Destinations Notes
Unorganized Livengood 0.00 0.00 AK-2 (Elliot Highway) – Manley Hot Springs, Fairbanks Southern terminus
Hess Creek 21 34 Hess Creek Overlook & Rest Area [8]
Yukon River 55 89 E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge
  115 185 Arctic Circle Wayside Rest Area A short side road leads to viewing deck with interpretive displays[8]
  126 203 Oh Shit Corner[4][5][6]
Prospect Creek 135 217 Access road to Prospect Creek Airport Site of the lowest recorded temperature in the United States
Grayling Lake 150 241 Grayling Lake Wayside Rest Area
Coldfoot 175 282 Coldfoot Road To Coldfoot Visitor Center
175.2 282.0 Airport Road To Coldfoot Airport and Coldfoot Post Office
Wiseman 189 304 Road to Wiseman
North Slope   248 399 Continental Divide / Atigun Pass The highest-altitude point on the road (elevation 4,739 ft / 1,422 m); Rivers to the south flow to the Pacific Ocean or Bering Sea and rivers north of here flow into the Arctic Ocean
Galbraith Lake 285 459 Galbraith Airport Road To Galbraith Lake Airport
Sag River 348 560 Sag River Overlook
Deadhorse 414 666 East Lake Colleen Drive To Deadhorse Airport and Prudhoe Bay; Northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dalton Highway". United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  2. ^ "The Dalton Highway Visitor Guide". Bureau of Land Management. Summer 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e 2008 edition of The Milepost, pp. 517-529 (Morris Communications Company)
  4. ^ a b Oh Shit Corner
  5. ^ a b "Day 8 - The Dalton Highway". Alaskapade.com. June 26, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Google Inc. "Oh Shit Corner on Google Street View". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. https://www.google.com/maps/@66.685928,-150.659167,3a,15y,85.18h,80.76t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1skACzmzX5u__aspyuvHqNuA!2e0. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  7. ^ "BBC Two - World's Most Dangerous Roads, Series 1, Alaska". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  8. ^ a b c "The Dalton Highway: Visitor Guide" (PDF). U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Summer 2009. 

External links[edit]