Even Ice Road Truckers Don't Want to Travel Dalton Highway

Dalton Highway
Dalton Highway. Patrick Endres/Design Pics/First Light/Getty Images

RVing and road tripping allows you to get away from it all, visit some neat destinations and also the ability to drive some America’s most famous, or infamous roads. You have been on several roads in the United States that were unique for their curves, remoteness, or other out of the ordinary qualities but that’s likely nothing compared to one of the US’s most infamous roads: Alaska’s Dalton Highway.

Let’s give you a good oversight of the Dalton Highway including its direction, location, unique qualities, and even some places it can take you too. You may want a challenge, but even the bravest of RVers are white knuckled when it comes to the Dalton Highway.

A Brief History of Dalton Highway

Alaska Route 11, formally named the James W. Dalton Highway and referred to as the Dalton Highway or the North Slope Haul Road is a 414-mile route through Alaska that was originally built in 1974 to help support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System which remains as its primary use today. This northern Alaska highway is remarkable as being one of the most remote and isolated highways in the world.

Along the entire route, you will only encounter three permanent towns, but there may be a few more populated areas along the route depending on what time of year you find yourself on the Dalton Highway. The three towns of Coldfoot, Wiseman, and Deadhorse are lightly populated with Deadhorse housing only 25 permanent residences and the other two towns even fewer. Prospect Creek and Galbraith are two other seasonal settlements along the route which may be good pit-stops if you decide to take on this road.

What Route Does Dalton Highway Follow?

The Dalton Highway starts in north-central Alaska near the town of Livengood and north of Fairbanks before snaking north through Hess Creek, jumping over the Yukon River, winding through Coldfoot, Wiseman and Galbraith Lake before ending short of the Arctic Ocean. It is the most northern highway in the United States and one of the northernmost highways in the entire world.

Dalton Highway Conditions and Traveling Information

Conditions on the Dalton Highway range along the stretch of the road depending on the time of year and weather. The road itself is composed of many different materials from concrete to simple gravel. Being so close to the Arctic Ocean means that the road freezes or ices over, despite this the Dalton Highway sees more traffic during the winter with approximately 160 trucks traveling the route daily during summer and 250 daily trucks during the winter.

The Dalton Highway is such an infamous road that it has been featured on The History Channel show Ice Road Truckers as well as the BBC’s World’s Most Dangerous Roads.

Read More: How to Handle Bad Weather When Road Tripping

Are You Prepared to Drive Dalton Highway?

It is not recommended to travel the Dalton Highway unless you are 100 percent confident you are up to the challenge. This includes having a tough RV with 4x4 capability, and a cache of extra supplies should something go wrong. If you’re not carrying extra food, fuel, water, and medical supplies, you likely shouldn’t be on the Dalton Highway as immediate help is not available in many sections of the road.

If at all possible, let someone not traveling with you know your itinerary so they can report to the proper authorities if you don’t report in or make a destination. If you do plan on taking an RV on this road, we also recommend summer as conditions are much more likely to be forgivable.

RVs, even the all-terrain, and four-season ones were not meant to travel on stretches like this. If you’re not sure your recreational vehicle can handle it, chances are it can’t, and that doubt will cause you to get into an accident or worse.

Pro Tip: Never, ever travel a road such as Dalton Highway without ensuring your emergency contacts know you’re doing it.

If you do decide to travel the Dalton Highway, it can be a great experience, the remoteness, and nearby wilderness is hard to come by in the lower 48.

Make sure you’ve done your research, inspected your RV, packed ample supplies and let a third party know of your plans before traveling the Dalton Highway in Alaska to have the safest and confident trip possible.

Read More: 5 of the Most Dangerous Roads in America

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