Dalton Highway (Alaska 11) Photo Journey - page 2
by Oscar Voss

Expanded and updated June 2006

This is the second page of a three-page photo collection on Alaska's Dalton Highway to the Arctic Ocean. (The collection used to have only two pages; some material previously on this page is now on page 3.) The photos below cover the highway north of the Arctic Circle (mile 115), through Coldfoot (mile 175), to Atigun Pass (mile 245). Page 1 covers the southern end of the highway, from its beginning in Livengood to the Arctic Circle (mile 115), and also provides introductory information about the highway and this photo collection. Page 3 completes the journey north from Atigun Pass to the Arctic Ocean, and concludes with a list of sources and some other Dalton Highway web sites.

NOTE: If you want to see a more detailed version of one of the photos below, click it to view an enlarged, higher-quality (less .jpg compression) version, if one is available. Those alternate versions have much larger file sizes, so please be patient while they download.
Return to page 1 link
(Page 1: introduction, and Livengood-Arctic Circle)

or go on to Page 3: Atigun Pass-Arctic Ocean, and links to related sites

Paved portion of highway, with elevated pipeline on right dropping underground, and wildfire in the distance
One of the recently-paved segments of the Dalton Highway, between the Arctic Circle and Coldfoot. As of 2005, about a quarter of the highway was paved. The elevated pipeline on the right descends underground (probably either to make it easier for wildlife to cross, or in an area where the hot oil in the pipeline won't melt permafrost under the pipeline), well before the wildfire off in the distance. (August 2004, courtesy of Walter Haight)
Concrete bridge deck on one of the Jim River crossings Another paved highway segment, with entirely-elevated pipeline in the background to the right
One of the three Jim River bridges, probably #3 at mile 144.1. (August 2004, courtesy of Walter Haight)
Another shot of the new pavement on the highway, this one northbound near mile 145. The pipeline, here fully-elevated, can be seen in the background on the right. (August 2004, courtesy of Walter Haight)
Next services 244 miles sign at Coldfoot A Warm Welcome to Coldfoot welcome sign
The highway from here, at the turnoff to Coldfoot at mile 175 (self-proclaimed "northernmost truck stop in the world"), to Deadhorse just south of the Arctic Ocean, is the longest stretch of highway without travel services in North America. (Photo by Dan Gullickson, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.)

This sign has been very recently replaced with a new sign shortening the "next services" distance to 240 miles (still tops in North America).

Coldfoot was named for prospectors who got "cold feet" and fled after one of the area's harsh winters. Another sign claims unofficial North American temperature records, with an all-time low temperature of -82°F in January 1989, followed by a high that summer of +97°F (a temperature swing of 179°F). That January, Coldfoot reportedly went 17 days straight without the temperature ever rising above -60°F. (July 1994)
Arctic Acres Inn in Coldfoot
I stayed overnight in this converted pipeline construction camp, now called the Slate Creek Inn, at $115 (in 1994) for a room barely large enough for two people. Ouch! (But nothing comes cheap except the scenery, this far out in the middle of nowhere.) (July 1994)
North Slope Borough boundary sign, in front of pipeline
Just before mile 235, south of the Brooks Range, is the southern boundary of the North Slope Borough. The sign says it is the "world's largest municipality" (88,817 square miles, larger than most states and many countries, but population is under 10,000; borough seat is in Barrow, about 450 miles away, with no road access).

On the pipeline behind the sign, note the radiating fins on top of the stilts (part of a passive "heat pipe" system, using ammonia refrigerant to keep the pipeline's hot oil from melting the permafrost under the stilts), and also the sliding "shoes" on which the pipeline rides the transverse support beams (so it can shift laterally such as to adjust to temperature changes).

Photo taken June 1999, courtesy of Bob Hoffmann, from his Alaska Adventure collection (sign digitally enhanced).

Northernmost spruce tree on the Dalton Highway Northernmost spruce tree on the Dalton Highway, after some vandal killed it
Just north of mile 235, the sign says "Farthest North Spruce Tree on the Alaskan Pipeline -- Do Not Cut." Even at the lower altitudes of the coastal plain north of the Brooks Range, the weather and soil are very tree-unfriendly. In particular, with permafrost (ground frozen solid all year long) as close as a foot beneath the surface, there's hardly any room for tree roots to grow.

This spruce tree was once in good shape, as shown in the photo above left. Alas, the tree was vandalized in August 2005. It still stands, but no longer lives, as shown in the photo above right. (Photo above left July 1994; photo above right July 2006, courtesy of David Harmes)

Dalton Highway southbound near the 'northernmost spruce tree'
The southbound highway, near the "Northernmost Spruce Tree." (August 2004, courtesy of Walter Haight)
Grade through Brooks Range Highway through Brooks Range
These three photos show the highway as it passes north toward Atigun Pass through the Brooks Range. The photo above shows one of the steep and winding grades through the mountains (I don't remember which one). The photo above right, near the old Chandalar pipeline construction camp, is courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The photo to the right (at mile 242.2, at the foot of the long, steep 12% grade immediately south of Atigun Pass) is courtesy of Bob Hoffmann, taken June 1999, from his Alaska Adventure collection.
At the foot of the steep grade through Atigun Pass
Highway at Atigun Pass summit Cirque at Atigun Pass
Atigun Pass, at mile 244.7. This is where the highway tops out at about 4800 feet, the highest road pass in Alaska. The photo above left shows the highway at the summit. The photo above right shows a cirque (amphitheater-shaped bowl, carved out of the mountains by glaciers), alongside the highway at the pass. (Photo above left August 2004, courtesy of Walter Haight; photo above right July 1994)

Go on to page 3 link
(Page 3: Atigun Pass-Arctic Ocean, and links to related sites)

or go back to Page 1: Livengood-Arctic Circle

Alaska Roads main page (under construction as of October 2007, but has some useful information and links).

Back to Andy Field's ISTEA/NHS/TEA-21 Corridor 24 (Dalton Highway) page.

Questions, comments? Please e-mail me.

© Oscar Voss 1994, 2001-2002, 2004, 2006-2008.