Dalton Highway (Alaska 11) Photo Journey - page 1
by Oscar Voss

Expanded and updated June 2006

This is a revised and updated version of the original Dalton Highway Photo Journey, which was co-authored and hosted by Andy Field. It was, and remains, an adjunct to the Dalton Highway page of his site on High Priority Corridors (a few dozen highways deemed by Congress to be of special national importance and worthy of priority Federal support -- the Dalton Highway is High Priority Corridor 24).

The largely unpaved 415-mile-long Dalton Highway runs from Livengood (on Alaska state route 2 northwest of Fairbanks, about halfway to Manley Hot Springs), through the Brooks Range, to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay. Its gravel surfaces are notoriously rough on tires and windshields. Built in haste in 1974 as the "haul road" for construction of the parallel Trans-Alaska Pipeline, it remains a vital supply line to the oilfields of Alaska's Arctic Coast. Long restricted to oilfield and pipeline service vehicles, it is now open to the general public all the way to its north end a few miles south of the Arctic Ocean. However, there is almost no population along the way, and travel services are very limited. North of Coldfoot is the longest service-free stretch of highway in North America -- no gas, no restaurants, no motels, no nothing (except awesome scenery) for over 240 miles. (See Andy Field's Dalton Highway page, and other sites listed at the bottom of page 3 of this Photo Journey, for more information.)

Unless otherwise indicated, the photos below are my own, and from a van tour of the highway I took in suumer 1994. A few photos were taken on my return trip to Alaska in summer 2001 which included just the first few miles of the highway's southern end. I've also added some photos from Bob Hoffmann's Alaska Adventures collection, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, to fill gaps in the collection. I later added many additional photos by Walter Haight, from his August 2004 trip on the highway to the Arctic Ocean and back; his photos include some recently-paved sections, and also cover the northern half of the highway better than I did. If you have photos I can use, with appropriate credit, to fill other gaps (especially the north end of the highway), please e-mail me.



NOTES: 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.

This photo collection is divided into three pages. (It used to be only two pages; some material previously on page 2 is now on page 3.) The photos below cover the southern end of the highway, from its beginning in Livengood to the Arctic Circle (mile 115). Page 2 covers the middle segment from the Arctic Circle to Atigun Pass through the Brooks Range (mile 245). Page 3 completes the journey north to the Arctic Ocean, and concludes with a list of reference sources and some other Dalton Highway-related web sites.
 


This is what the Dalton Highway's route shields look like -- at least the ones that haven't been used for target practice (all too common in rural Alaska). I think the elegant design, incorporating the Big Dipper and the North Star from the state flag, makes Alaska's route shields among the nicest in the U.S. (July 1994)

The Dalton Highway was long the highest-numbered route in Alaska, until 2001 when the Klondike Highway from Skagway in southeast Alaska to the Canadian border was designated as route 98 (for the gold rush of 1898).
 

Route shield for Alaska route 11
South end of Dalton Highway
This is the south end of the Dalton Highway, facing southbound, where it joins the Elliott Highway (Alaska state route 2) near Livengood. Most southbound Dalton Highway traffic goes straight ahead onto the eastbound Elliott Highway to Fairbanks. A right turn takes you west on the Elliott Highway, to Manley Hot Springs. (June 2001)
Heavy Industrial Traffic - Proceed With Caution Speed Limit 50 - Next 416 Miles Lights On - Next 425 Miles
These three signs greet northbound travelers at the south end of the Dalton Highway, to remind them of the long, hard haul ahead. (All photos June 2001)
 
1994 sign, showing distances to northbound destinations 2001 sign, showing distances to northbound destinations
The distance sign on the left at the beginning of the Dalton Highway is from my July 1994 vacation. (The highway is named for an engineer involved in early oil exploration efforts on the North Slope.) By my return in June 2001, it was replaced by the sign on the right (with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, paralleling the highway, in the background).
 
Pipeline zigzagging along highway
 
This photo of the pipeline alongside the highway was taken somewhere north of the Yukon River, probably near mile 90. The pipeline zigzags so it can shrink and expand as temperature changes, and also flex during an earthquake, without breaking. See page 2 for some closer views of the pipeline. (July 1994)
 
Cross where trucker died on the highway
 
A trucker drove his rig off the road here, somewhere south of the Yukon River. (July 1994)
 
 
 

 

Bridge over the Yukon River
This highway bridge (photographed from a boat approaching from the east) crosses the Yukon River near mile 56. The bridge has a wooden deck and a 6% grade, and is about 2290 feet long. The bridge also carries the pipeline across the river -- an arrangement that makes pipeline security officials very nervous. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a security checkpoint was set up south of the bridge for inspections of northbound vehicles, to beef up security for the bridge and other parts of the pipeline. (July 1994)
 
Wooden deck, and grille along the right side covering the pipeline, on the bridge over the Yukon River
This photo shows both the Yukon River bridge's wooden deck, and the grille along the right side covering the pipeline. (August 2004, courtesy of Walter Haight)
 
Arctic Circle marker The turnoff to this Arctic Circle sign is at mile 115.5. The Dalton Highway is the only highway in the United States, and one of only two in North America, to cross the Arctic Circle. (July 1994)


Go on to page 2 link
(Page 2: Arctic Circle-Atigun Pass)

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



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, 2004-2007.