The Dalton Highway
The drive from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay is more than five
hundred miles. Most of that drive is on the Dalton Highway
which is considered to be one of the most dangerous
highways in the world. Much of the highway is unpaved
which is generally not a problem in winter. Temperatures
on our trip reached minus 26 and have been known to
exceed minus 60. Truck drivers do not turn off their
engines in winter.
Our journey took place in early March. The first day our
van traveled approximately half way to Prudhoe Bay to the
mid-point which is Coldfoot. On our fourth day the van took
us an additional 75 miles north to the North Slope on the
Except for the truck stop at Cold Foot, the only facilities in
almost 500 miles are out houses.
I was surprised at the number of trucks on the road. There are more trucks in the winter than summer. The road is generally
considered better in winter. Also, in summer the weight limits are more restrictive. Finally, more work is done in winter than
summer in Prudhoe Bay.
The road was built in the
seventies to make possible
the building of the Alaska
pipeline. It has since been
much improved and can now
be driven any time of year
by a skillful driver in most
any kind of vehicle.
In some instances (left)
bends are built into the
pipeline to slow the flow..
The antenna looking things
on the pipeline are devices
to draw heat out of the
Half the pipeline is built underground. The oil companies resisted building the
other half above ground, but were required to do so to protect the perma frost.
Ironically, it is the part of the pipeline that was built under ground which is now
Note the animal tracks around Jackie.
Jackie sliding in the snow along the
road. The snow was very powdery.
Jackie in a piece of pipeline.
Note the course of the
pipeline on the map.
Note that the pipeline sits on little
platforms that rest on the supports in
the ground which have a Teflon
surface so that the pipeline can shift
with changes in temperature or