The Dalton Highway
To Deadhorse, Alaska

Back to the TurtlePuddle  

 On to page 2

Mary Hopson took a roadtrip up the Dalton Highway and around several other Alaskan highways, with her
Alaskan malamute (Luna) and cat (Angel), between May 25th and June 5th, 2012. The trip odometer added 2166 miles.

Fri. 5/25/2012:

I'm headed north! The plan is to drive the Dalton Highway (AKA the "Haul Road") past the Arctic Circle and all the way to the end of the road in Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay). I've just started out late today so I'm just a little way up the Parks Hwy. I'm in no hurry, just wanting to see the sights all along the way. I'm especially looking for some of the early tundra flowers up north. Angel and Luna are with me, and both seem to be enjoying the trip so far. I take Luna for frequent walks and the cat likes to hop out and play around sometimes, too. The van has everything we need for about two weeks. We are all ready for an adventure. :-)
odometer: 00 (home) to 165.9 (Parks Hwy milepost157)

Sat. 5/26:

Now I'm on the Dalton Highway (AKA the "haul road"). I stopped in Fairbanks for a salad, but couldn't get the wifi to work there, so I just pressed on northward. First, you take the Steese Hwy for just a few miles, then pick up the Elliott for about 80 miles before finally reaching the beginning of the Dalton. We're camped at a pulloff at milepost 32 of the Dalton. At this first campsite on the Dalton, I found some little Northern Jasmine in bloom, so that bodes well. Cloudy with intermittent showers all day.
odometer: 165.9 - 500.1

Thumbnails have larger versions linked if you click on them.

Minto Flats, along Parks Hwy

Scene near Denali, Parks Hwy

Alaska Range, Parks Hwy, (Denali wasn't visible.)

Tuckered pup, naps in the van.

Just starting out on the Dalton, mi. 9

Tiny blossoms, Northern Jasmine, mi.32

Sun. 5/27

Crossed the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle today! We saw a black bear at the river, hiked the Finger Mountain trails, and found lots of the early tundra flowers in bloom. Luna loves to explore with me, so I stop very frequently, looking for flowers, scenes, and whatever. The Finger Mountain area was interesting, with lots of strange granite tors. I've seen foxes, squirrels, and birds, none of whom were willing to pose for me. The one black bear paused near the Yukon R. Lots of clouds and wind, but no rain today. We're camped at Jim River (named for my brother?) at mile 144.1.
odometer: 500.1 - 624.9

Click thumbnails for larger images, and see additional links below.

first view of Yukon River, Dalton milepost 55

black bear just north of the River

alpine azaleas in tors, Loiseleuria procumbens

Finger Mt, tors area, mi. 86

Luna and I in the tors

Luna and I at Arctic Circle crossing, mi. 115

More scenes from the Dalton Highway, May 27, 2012

The bridge over the Yukon River
A solar powered cabin at the river crossing
Tiny urn-shaped flowers of a leatherleaf, near the Yukon
A view from the tors area south of the arctic circle
And another rocky scene from the tors area
Luna enjoying a rest break in some snow
I think this is arctic lousewort; it was about 12" tall.
Closer view of the lousewort

Mon. 5/28

Paused at Coldfoot Camp (milepost 175) for a salad and a shower, then pushed on northward. This is the last outpost before Deadhorse, 240 miles away, but I shouldn't need gas before then and I have everything I need aboard. Crossed the Koyukuk River today, and went into the Brooks Range. Atigun Pass was beautiful, and in spite of recent snowfall there, wasn't difficult. Luna and I spent quite a bit of time hiking up on Chandler Shelf. It was a hotbed of early spring wildflowers for me, and Luna found snow perfect for romping. We both enjoyed the spectacular views. Camped for the night at Galbraith Lake, Dalton milepost 274.7. We're far enough north now to see the midnight sun even though the summer solstice is weeks away.
odometer: 624.9 - 764.0

Sukakpak Mt., milepost 203

Windflower bud on Chandler Shelf, mi. 237

Arctic Ground Squirrel

View from Atigun Pass, mi. 244

Galbraith Lake, mi. 275

Midnight Sun at milepost 275

More scenes from the Dalton Highway, May 27, 2012

Big view of the road, pipeline, expanse of forest, and mountains, taken at about milepost 160
Another view of the Brooks Range from a distance
Koyokuk River, a few miles north of the arctic circle, with a dog in it
Looking south from up on Chandler Shelf, milepost 236
Flowers on Chandler Shelf:
Alpine Milk Vetch / Alaska Blue Anemone / closer / Alpine Bearberry / Windflower scene
Brooks Range view from the other side of Atigun Pass
Alpenglow from the midnight sun, at Galbraith Lake campsite
Purple Mountain Saxifrage at the Galbraith Lake campsite

 Tues. 5/29

Once you leave the mountains, there's nothing but arctic tundra for miles and miles. There aren't really even any good places to hike around and explore because it's either muskeg or covered with soft snow. Either way, you sink in up to your knees. Birds are abundant­ many different species. As we neared the end of the road, there were also caribou and muskox waaaay off in the distance. We arrived at Deadhorse too late to beat the 24 hour deadline on the security clearance to get on a tour to the Arctic Ocean tomorrow, but I was able to schedule it for Thursday. Tonight we just drove back out of town to a small turnout on the tundra for the night. I will be running the van for heat periodically because of a bitter arctic wind battering us and subfreezing temperature. The dog loves it, but Angel and I like to be a bit warmer. Deadhorse is at Dalton milepost 414 and we've parked at 405. There are geese nearby, and a little red fox. I can see caribou far in the distance.
odometer: 764.0 - 929.9

muskox out on the tundra

male willow ptarmigan

Angel, nice and comfy in the van

white-fronted geese

tundra swan

red fox, checking out the migratory birds

A few more images from Tuesday:

Muskoxen rest on the tundra.
A flock of snow geese settle onto the tundra.
Very distant caribou are just barely visible in the fog.

 Wed. & Thurs. 5/30-31

On the way back into town we saw an arctic fox checking out the multitude of birds on the tundra. The caribou and muskox have all been quite far away. Spent most of the day around the Prudhoe Bay "Hotel" enjoying the all-you-can-eat food that comes with the price of the room. The place is basically crew quarters for various oil field workers, so is quite spartan and, one might even say, shabby. But the free food makes up for it. I highly recommend the cherry pie. Deadhorse may not be your typical seaside resort town, with its industrial wasteland appearance and unpleasant weather, but it is an interesting place nonetheless, with lots of nice people. On Thurs. I finally got to take the tour from Deadhorse through the Phudhoe Bay oil areas to the Arctic Ocean, which is still completely frozen. I took the tour with a lovely retired couple who have been RVing around the country for the past two years. We saw snow greese, a tundra swan, and some muskox, but, alas, no polar bears. After the tour, I headed out of town. Got to milepost 271, by the Atigun River bridge #2, next to an impressive stone mountain.
odometer: 975.4 - 1119.7

arctic fox, near Deadhorse

more snow geese, by Prudhoe Bay

standing on a frozen Arctic Ocean


Franklin Bluffs, milepost 377

storm cloud moving in

More pix from around the town of Deadhorse:
The Prudhoe Bay Hotel and the area
Silhouettes in the fog of industrial buildings in Prudhoe Bay
Sign on the side of the only general store in town

More pix from the Dalton Highway, heading out of town
A closer view of Franklin Bluffs, milepost 377
A rocky mountain and the pipeline, next to my Thursday campsite, milepost 271

 Back to the TurtlePuddle  

   On to page 2