Dalton Highway, Alaska

With so many eyes turning northward at this time of year, we thought we take a look at the northernmost highway in the United States, Alaska’s Dalton Highway.

The Dalton Highway (Alaska highway 11) begins north of Fairbanks and extends northward towards Prudhoe Bay along the Arctic Ocean. It actually ends a few miles short of the ocean in the town of Deadhorse (what a great name!) with private roads covering the remaining distance. The southern section of the highway passes through the state’s forested interior, and on the E.L. Patton Yukon River Bridge. This is apparently the only bridge crossing the Yukon River in Alaska.

[Photo by Stan Stebs via Wikimedia Commons.]

As one gets further north, the trees disappear and highway winds its way through the sparse and undulating terrain as a narrow gravel road parallel to the pipeline. It is this landscape that perhaps most uniquely defines this road.

The stark landscape of clean rolling hills and muted greens looks quite interesting and inviting.  But it is easy to forget that it does get very cold and covered in snow and ice for quite a bit of the year, and can be quite treacherous.

The landscape flattens out and becomes more barren as the highway approaches its northern terminus near the Arctic Ocean. It ends at a very unassuming intersection at the edge of a lake in Deadhorse, as seen is this image from Google Street View:

It looks like the left turn leads into the town itself, which includes the sign shown to the left and where one can book tours to the coast.  The right turn appears to lead towards the oil installations, with street view stopping at a gate.  Interestingly, the entire length of the highway can been seen on Google Street View. I can only imagine the scene of one of the Google cars traveling alone along the road.

Alaska is one of six states in the U.S. I have not yet visited. If I do make it there, I would like to see this highway. But probably not during the winter.