Visitor Guide to Dalton Highway in Alaska. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
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U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management The Dalton Highway Visitor Guide Contents Introduction ........................... 2-3 General Safety ....................... 4 Visitor Centers & Services ...... 5 Road Tips & Info ................. 6-7 Points of Interest ................... 8-11 Maps ...................................... 12-14 Landscape Features ............... 15 Watching Wildlife .................. 16-17 Recreation & Campgrounds .... 18-20 Bear Safety ............................ 21 Good to Know ........................ 22 Your Public Lands ................... 23 Contact Info ........................... 24 All photos courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management unless otherwise noted. Ultimate Road Adventure The Dalton Highway is a rough, industrial road that begins 84 miles (134 km) north of Fairbanks and ends 414 miles (662 km) further north in Deadhorse, the industrial camp at Prudhoe Bay. It provides a rare opportunity to traverse a remote, unpopulated part of Alaska to the very top of the continent. Traveling this farthest-north road involves real risks and challenges. This publication will help you decide whether to make the journey, how to prepare, and how to enjoy your experience. Please read this information carefully. Throughout this guide, “MP” refers to the Dalton Highway milepost number. Know Before You Go • There is no public access to the Arctic Ocean from Deadhorse. You must be on an authorized tour. • There are no medical facilities between Fairbanks and Deadhorse, a distance of 500 miles (800 km). For emergency information, see the back page. • Food, gas, and vehicle repair services are extremely limited. See page 5. • There is limited cell phone service or public internet connection between Fairbanks and Deadhorse: 9 Verizon cell service is available north of Atigun Pass, in Coldfoot, and at Galbraith Lake. AT&T cell service is available north of Atigun Pass and will be available south to Coldfoot by early summer 2022. 9 Wifi is available at Coldfoot Camp and Yukon Crossing for a fee. • Annually, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hauls approximately 20 tons of litter from the Dalton Highway to Fairbanks, the nearest landfill. Please do your part in keeping Alaska beautiful by reducing waste and packing your trash back out. Cover photo: Moose in a pond in front of Sukakpak Mountain. Arctic Interagency Visitor Center The award-winning Arctic Interagency Visitor Center introduces visitors from around the world to the unique and extreme environment of the Arctic. Explore interpretive exhibits, walk the nearby nature trails, and talk with our knowledgeable staff to learn more about the region’s history, natural environment, and recreation opportunities. The visitor center is a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Muskoxen gathering on the road north of the Brooks Range. Open daily from May 24 to September 16, from noon to 8 p.m. Hours are subject to change based on demand. Phone: 907-678-5209 or 907-678-2014 (summer only) www.blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/arctic-interagency-visitor-center FREE digital public maps - www.blm.gov/maps/georeferenced-PDFs -2- Built for Black Gold In 1968, oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope. Excitement was high at the prospect of new money to fuel Alaska’s boom-and-bust economy. The nation was in the throes of an energy crisis and pushed for an 800-mile-long (1290 km) pipeline. But first, Native land claims had to be settled, permits granted, environmental safeguards designed, and a road built to get workers and supplies north to the oil field. When finally approved, construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was run like a wartime project—money was no object and time was of the essence. The weather conditions, terrain, and the immensity of the project were all extreme. Engineers overcame permafrost, mountain ranges, and the relentless flow of the Yukon River. Incredibly, the Haul Road was completed in just five months and the pipeline in three years (1974-77). The previously remote Arctic was changed forever. Road crews worked to construct the Dalton Highway in both directions. One crew heading south from Deadhorse, one north from Fairbanks. This sign commemorates the meeting of the two crews. Haul Road or Highway? The highway was open only to commercial traffic until 1981, when the state allowed public access to Disaster Creek at MP 211. In 1994, public access was allowed all the way to Deadhorse for the first time. Today, the Dalton Highway beckons adventurous souls to explore a still-wild and mysterious frontier. Respect this harsh land and appreciate the opportunity to visit a special part of our world. At first, the highway was called the Haul Road because almost everything supporting oil development was “hauled” on tractor-trailer rigs to its final destination. In 1981, the State of Alaska named the highway after James W. Dalton, a lifelong Alaskan and expert in arctic engineering who was involved in early oil exploration efforts on the North Slope. Watch for oversized loads and always yield to oncoming trucks. -3- Safety Tips Weather Phones and Internet Summer temperatures can occasionally reach the high 80s°F (27-30°C) south of the Brooks Range and average in the 50s°F (10-15°C) in Coldfoot. Thunderstorms are common in early summer, especially between Fairbanks and the Yukon River, and may bring lightning and sudden squalls. In general, June and July are drier months, but rainy days are frequent throughout the summer. • There is limited cell phone coverage and public internet access between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. • Pay phones: You can use a calling card at the Yukon River Camp, Coldfoot, and Deadhorse. • Satellite phones: Some companies in Fairbanks rent satellite phones; search the internet or contact the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center (page 5). Weather on the North Slope is frequently windy, foggy, and cold. Snow can occur at any time of the year, especially from the Brooks Range north. In Deadhorse, average summer temperatures are in the 30s and 40s°F (0-5°C). Drinking Water It’s best to bring water with you. If you must use stream water for cooking or cleaning, treat it first by boiling rapidly for 3-5 minutes, or by using iodine tablets or a water filter. Giardia, a tiny parasite (germ) that causes diarrhea, is widespread in Alaska waters and is highly contagious. Flash Floods Heavy or prolonged rain can cause local flash floods anytime during the summer. Running water may cover the road or wash out culverts and bridges. Do not attempt to cross flooded areas. Preparing for the Long Haul Wildlife Before you leave Fairbanks: Treat all wild animals with caution and respect. Keep a clean camp so you don’t attract wildlife. Do not approach or feed any animals. Moose and muskoxen may appear tame, but can be dangerous if approached too closely. Never get between a cow and her calves. If moose feel threatened they will flatten their ears, raise the hair on their neck, and may charge. Wolves and foxes on the North Slope may carry rabies. Avoid all contact between these animals and yourself and your pets. See pages 16-17 for more information on where to look for wildlife and page 21 for how to be safe in bear country. Make sure all vehicle tires are properly inflated Check all vehicle fluids Replace worn hoses and belts Empty RV holding tank and fill the water tank Purchase groceries and supplies Bring for your vehicle: At least two full-sized spare tires mounted on rims Tire jack and tools for flat tires Emergency flares Extra gasoline, motor oil, and wiper fluid CB radio Wildfires Over the years many lightning-caused fires were visible to motorists traveling the Dalton Highway. If they are not threatening any sites of value, they may be left to burn as part of the natural ecological process. Despite this, we ask that you are careful that your activities do not start a fire. If you start a campfire, make sure it is completely cold to the touch and never leave a fire unattended. Do not drive through an area of dense smoke or flames or you could get trapped by swiftly changing conditions. Obey all traffic signs and directions in areas with active wildfires. Bring for yourself: Insect repellent and head net Sunglasses and sunscreen Rain jacket and pants Warm clothes, including hat and gloves First aid kit Drinking water Ready-to-eat food Camping gear, including sleeping bag Personal medications Toilet paper and hand sanitizer Garbage bags For information about Alaska wildfires, go to akfireinfo.com or the Alaska Wildland Fire Information Map at https://arcg.is/1aa8Lq -4- Visitor Information Centers In Fairbanks Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center 101 Dunkel Street, #110 Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-459-3730 Fax: 907-459-3729 https://www.alaskacenters.gov/ visitors-centers/fairbanks Services Are Limited Notice: There are no public services at Department of Transportation maintenance stations or Alyeska Pipeline Service Company pump stations. Medical Facilities: There are no public or emergency medical facilities along the Elliott or Dalton highways. Banking: There are no banks. ATM machines are available in Deadhorse. Most services accept major credit cards and traveler’s checks. Groceries: There are no grocery stores along the highway. Snack food and cafés are available at limited locations. Phone: There is limited cell phone coverage and no public internet access from the Elliott Highway MP 28 until just outside of Deadhorse. Services At the Yukon River Yukon Crossing Visitor Contact Station Located on the east side of the highway just north of the Yukon River bridge. No phone. Closed in winter. In Coldfoot Arctic Interagency Visitor Center Coldfoot, MP 175 Phone: 907-678-5209 www.blm.gov/learn/interpretivecenters/arctic-interagency-visitor-center Open daily from late May to early September. Closed in winter. Take a break at BLM’s Yukon Crossing Visitor Contact Station, located on the right just after crossing the bridge. Volunteers are there to assist daily in summer. A short walk takes you to viewing decks on the riverbank. Signs along the highway warn of limited access and services north of Coldfoot. SERVICES Yukon Crossing Five Mile* Coldfoot Wiseman** Deadhorse Gas Y N Y N Y Tire/Vehicle Repair N N Y N Y Restaurant Y Y Y N Y Lodging Y Y Y Y Y Cell Service Y N Y Y Y WiFi Y N Y N N Post Office N N Y N Y Shower Y Y Y N Y Water N Y Y N Y Laundry N N Y N Y Dump Station N Y N N N Tent Camping N Y Y N N RV Parking N Y Y N N Gift Shop/Local Crafts N Y Y Y Y Visitor Center/ Museum* N N Y Y N Y = service available N = service not available *closed in winter **limited services in winter -5- Road Conditions Rules of the Road The road is narrow, has soft shoulders, high embankments, and steep hills. There are lengthy stretches of gravel surfaces with sharp rocks, potholes, washboarding, and, depending on the weather, clouds of dust or slick mud. Watch out for dangerous curves and loose gravel, especially between Livengood and the Yukon River (MP 0-56). You may encounter snow and ice north of Coldfoot any month of the year. Expect and prepare for all conditions. 9 Big trucks and road maintenance equipment have the right of way. 9 Slow down to 25-30 mph when passing other vehicles to avoid damaging them with flying rocks. 9 Always drive with your lights on so others can see you. The Dalton Highway is paved from MP 37 to 49 and intermittently beyond that point to Deadhorse. Road construction occurs in various areas and can cause some delay. 9 Keep your headlights and taillights clean so they are visible. 9 Stay on the right side of the road. Proposed Road Construction 9 Don’t stop on bridges, hills, or curves. • https://dot.alaska.gov/project_info 9 Check your rear-view mirror regularly. For current road conditions: 9 If you spot wildlife, pull over to a safe location before stopping. • 511.alaska.gov • www.alaskanavigator.org/fairbanks 9 Slower traffic should pull over at a safe location and allow other vehicles to pass. Mileage Chart Much of the Dalton Highway is unpaved. Travel with care and always bring two spare tires mounted on rims. Miles (km) Fairbanks Livengood Yukon River Arctic Circle Coldfoot Atigun Pass Galbraith Lake Deadhorse Fairbanks l 84 (134) 140 (224) 199 (318) 259 (414) 328 (525) 359 (574) 498 (797) Livengood 84 (134) l 56 (90) 115 (184) 175 (280) 244 (390) 275 (440) 414 (662) Yukon River 140 (224) 56 (90) l 59 (94) 119 (190) 188 (301) 219 (350) 358 (573) Arctic Circle 199 (318) 115 (184) 59 (94) l 60 (96) 129 (206) 160 (256) 299 (478) Coldfoot 259 (414) 175 (280) 119 (190) 60 (96) l 69 (110) 100 (160) 239 (382) Atigun Pass 328 (525) 244 (390) 188 (301) 129 (206) 69 (110) l 31 (50) 170 (272) Galbraith Lake 359 (574) 275 (440) 219 (350) 160 (256) 100 (160) 31 (50) l 139 (222) Deadhorse 498 (797) 414 (662) 358 (573) 299 (478) 239 (382) 170 (272) 139 (222) l -6- Road Tips Car Trouble If your car breaks down, get off the road as far as possible and set flares. Towing services are available in Fairbanks, Coldfoot and Deadhorse. You will need to provide credit card information by cell phone (near Fairbanks or Deadhorse), otherwise by satellite phone or in person if you can arrange for a ride. For all commercial services along the Dalton Highway, please contact the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau at 907-456-5774 or 800-327-5774. How many mosquitoes can you count? See below for more information about bugs. Frequently Asked Questions How long does it take to make the trip? CB Radios Much depends on weather, road conditions, road construction, and your own interests. The roundtrip to Prudhoe Bay and back demands at least four days. Under good conditions, expect the following driving times from Fairbanks to: Yukon River ........ 3 hours *Factor in an additional 1-2 Arctic Circle ........ 5 hours hours per day for rest stops, Coldfoot ............. 6 hours wildlife viewing, construction Atigun Pass ........ 8 hours delays, and bad weather. Deadhorse ......... 13+ hours Truckers and road workers monitor Channel 19. With a CB you can ask them if it’s safe to pass or tell them when it’s safe to pass you. In poor visibility, you can warn oncoming trucks if there are other vehicles close behind you. You can communicate with flaggers, pilot cars, and heavy equipment operators. Emergency Can I drive, walk or cycle to the Arctic Ocean? Be prepared for any emergency. In a critical emergency, use a CB radio to call for help and relay a message to the State Troopers. If you are in cell phone range you can call the Troopers at 800-811-0911. It may be many hours before help arrives. NO. Public access ends at Deadhorse, about 8 miles (13 km) from the ocean. Security gates on the access roads are guarded 24 hours a day and permits for individuals to travel on their own are not available. There is only one authorized tour provider. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. See back page for information. Rental Cars Are the bugs really that bad? Many rental car agreements prohibit driving on the Dalton Highway and other gravel roads. Violating the rental car agreement can be very expensive, especially in the event of a malfunction or accident. YES! Hordes of mosquitoes emerge in mid-June and last into August. Biting flies and gnats last into September. Insects are the worst on calm days and in low, wetland areas. Hike and camp on ridges or wide gravel bars along rivers where a breeze may provide relief. Insect repellents containing DEET are most effective. A head net and bug jacket are essential if you plan on any outdoor activities. Repairs Prepare to be self-sufficient. Limited tire and repair services are available at only two service stations between Fairbanks and Deadhorse—a distance of 500 miles (800 km). They can have parts delivered from Fairbanks, but it is expensive. When is the best time to visit? A late May trip offers a chance to see thousands of migrating birds, but snow may still cover the ground. From June until midJuly wildflowers brighten the tundra and caribou congregate along the Coastal Plain. Mid-August brings rain, cool days, frosty nights, and the northern lights. Brilliant autumn colors peak around midAugust on the North Slope, late August in the Brooks Range, and early September south of the Yukon River. Snow begins to fly by late August or early September. Does the highway close in the winter? No. The road remains open for trucks hauling supplies to the oilfields and camps. Although the highway is maintained yearround, in winter, services of any kind are only available at the Yukon River Camp (MP 56), Coldfoot (MP 175) and Deadhorse (MP 414). Winter driving conditions are extremely hazardous. Drivers face snow, ice, wind, whiteouts, and dangerous cold with windchills to -70° F (-57° C). Travel between late October and early April is not advised. Fueling up in Deadhorse. -7- Points of Interest Hess Creek Overlook (MP 21) This pullout looks over Hess Creek meandering west to meet the Yukon River. In 2003, the Erickson Creek Fire burned almost 118,000 acres (47,200 ha) in this area. Yukon River (MP 56) The mighty Yukon River winds nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from Canada to the Bering Sea. Athabascan people first traveled this river in birchbark canoes. During the gold rush, wood-fired sternwheelers ferried gold seekers and supplies for trading posts. Today, Yukon River residents use motorboats in summer and snowmachines in winter to travel this natural highway. Finger Mountain Five Mile Campground (MP 60) Finger Mountain Wayside (MP 98) Five Mile Campground is located five miles north of the Yukon River and is one of four public campgrounds operated by the BLM along the Dalton Highway. It is near an artesian well with potable water and the only public dump station. See page 18 for more details. Stop at Finger Mountain to take in the panoramic views, explore the alpine tundra, and stroll the half-mile interpretive trail. Expect strong winds on this high ridge. Arctic Circle Wayside (MP 115) Roller Coaster Hill (MP 75) Follow the side road a short distance to the Arctic Circle sign and viewing deck with interpretive displays. North of the Yukon River, travelers encounter a series of steep hills named by truckers in the early years of pipeline construction, including Sand Hill (MP 73), Roller Coaster Hill (MP 75), Mackey Hill (MP 87), Beaver Slide (MP 110), and Gobblers Knob (MP 132). Truckers today use the same names. 86-Mile Overlook (MP 86.5) At MP 86.5, turn west and follow an access road uphill to an active gravel pit for an excellent view of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge to the east. Watch out for heavy equipment. Enjoy your lunch in the picnic area or drive the side road one-half mile uphill to camp in the BLM Arctic Circle Campground (see page 18 for campground details). This campground was renovated and upgraded in 2020 and features both pull-through and tent-only sites. There is no water available here. A truck crests the top of a hill near milepost 88 on Alaska’s Dalton Highway on a chilly morning at -20 degrees Fahrenheit. -8- Gobblers Knob (MP 132) The pullout here offers an excellent view of the Brooks Range to the north. To see the midnight sun on solstice, climb up the hill to the east. Grayling Lake Wayside (MP 150) An ancient glacier carved this U-shaped valley and left a shallow lake. Moose feed on the nutrient-rich aquatic plants in summer. Charcoal, stone scrapers, and other artifacts found nearby indicate that Native hunters used this lookout for thousands of years. Marion Creek Campground is located in the foothills of the Brooks Range. Marion Creek Campground (MP 180) This developed campground is operated by the BLM and offers 27 sites. See page 18 for campground details. Coldfoot (MP 175) Wiseman (MP 189) The original gold rush town of Coldfoot was located on the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River near the mouth of Slate Creek. It got its name in 1900 when early prospectors reportedly got “cold feet” and left before winter set in. Just after crossing the Middle Fork Koyukuk Bridge #1, take the turnoff to the west and follow the signs 3 miles (5 km) to the historic village of Wiseman. Established in 1907 when miners discovered gold in nearby Nolan Creek, the town was once a bustling community. Many residents today continue to subsist by hunting, trapping and gardening. They enjoy sharing their stories with visitors. Note that all buildings in the Wiseman area are private property. Please stay on the roads. Sukakpak Mountain (MP 204) A massive wall rising to 4,459 feet (1,338 m) that glows in the afternoon sun, Sukakpak Mountain is an awe-inspiring sight. Peculiar ice-cored mounds known as palsas punctuate the ground at the mountain’s base. “Sukakpak” is an Iñupiat Eskimo word meaning “marten deadfall.” Seen from the north, the mountain resembles a carefully balanced log used to trap marten. This replica of a miner’s cabin is part of a gold mining exhibit under development in Coldfoot near the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center. Sukakpak Mountain -9- Points of Interest, continued A truck climbs the north side of Atigun Pass on the Dalton Highway. Farthest North Spruce (MP 235) Toolik Lake (MP 284) As you approach the headwaters of the Dietrich River, trees grow scarce until they disappear altogether. The last tall spruce along the highway, approximately 273 years old, was felled by a vandal in 2004. The University of Alaska Fairbanks established a research station here in 1975, and conducts studies on arctic ecosystems and global climate change. Please take care to avoid their research sites, which are scattered throughout the surrounding area. There are no public facilities here and no camping. Access to the station is by invitation only. Chandalar Shelf (MP 237) Dramatic views encompass the headwaters of the Chandalar River to the east. The next few miles traverse a major winter avalanche zone. State transportation workers stationed here fire artillery shells to clear the slopes above the highway. Atigun Pass (MP 244) You cross the Continental Divide at Atigun Pass (elev. 4,739 ft/1422 m). Rivers south of here flow into the Pacific Ocean or Bering Sea, while rivers to the north flow into the Arctic Ocean. Watch for Dall sheep, which are often on the road or on nearby slopes. Storms can dump snow here even in June and July. Slope Mountain (MP 300) Slope Mountain marks the northern boundary of BLMmanaged public land on the Dalton Highway. From here north, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources manages the land around the Dalton Highway and Prudhoe Bay. Happy Valley (MP 334) Originally the site of a pipeline construction camp, Happy Valley offers easy access to the Sagavanirktok River as well as room for camping. Do not camp or park on the active airstrip. Galbraith Lake (MP 275) This is all that remains of a large glacial lake that once occupied the entire Atigun Valley. A short distance to the east lies the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. To reach the Galbraith Lake Campground follow the access road at MP 275 west for four miles (6.4 km). The last two miles are on an unimproved road. Watch for muskoxen near the Sagavanirktok River from here to the coast. When resting, they look like large, dark humps with a cream-colored “saddle.” - 10 - Deadhorse vicinity map Sag River Overlook (MP 348) A short trail leads to a viewing deck with interpretive displays. On a clear day, you can see the Philip Smith Mountains 35 miles (56 km) away. “Sag” is short for “Sagavanirktok.” The name is Iñupiaq in origin and translates as “swift current.” Security Gate (no public access to oilﬁeld or ocean) Franklin Bluffs (MP 383) Iron-rich soils on the far bank of the river give the bluffs their vivid colors. They are named after Sir John Franklin, the British explorer who mapped the Arctic coastline and searched for the Northwest Passage. Scan the gravel bars along the river for muskoxen and caribou. Prudhoe Bay, General Store, Post Office, Brooks Range Tesoro Supply, NAPA Gas Security Gate (no public access to oilﬁeld or ocean) Deadhorse (MP 414) Aurora Hotel Lake Colleen road closed B. e o l dh te ru Ho P NANA Gas N E S e rs De a o dh t Deadhorse Camp ay hw W or rp Ai ig Dalton H Deadhorse is not a town but an industrial camp that supports the Prudhoe Bay oilfields. There are few amenities for visitors. Lodging is extremely limited and there are no grocery stores, public outhouses, or camping areas. The public highway ends about eight miles from the Arctic Ocean. You must be on an authorized tour to visit the Arctic Ocean. See back page for information. Arctic Oilfield Hotel NOT TO SCALE Visitors encounter the chilly waters of the Arctic Ocean. Permafrost lies only inches beneath the surface of the Coastal Plain, creating a bizarre landscape of wetlands and ice-wedge polygons. From Deadhorse, you travel over permafrost up to 2,000 feet (600 m) thick. - 11 - South Dalton Highway - Fairbanks to MP 210 Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve Wiseman (MP 189) Marion Creek Campground (MP 180) Arctic Interagency Visitor Center (MP 175) oy uk uk R . Koyuk u k R. Coldfoot (MP 175) K Fork Middle k For h t u So Bettles A r c ti c N a ti o n a l W il d li fe Re fu ge Sukakpak Mountain (MP 204) Ri v Jim er Gobblers Knob (MP 132) kR u k yu Ko . South Fork Koyukuk (MP 156) Grayling Lake (MP 150) Yu ko n Flats Natio n al Wildlife Re fu ge Arctic Circle (MP 115) Pump Station 5 R. r Rive n ko Yu Da lto 86 Mile Overlook ti BLM Utility Corridor nH ig h Five Mile (MP 60) Stevens Village wa y Yukon Crossing (MP 56) Visitor Contact Station (MP 56) Ray R. Pump Station 6 Livengood Colorado Creek Trailhead Dalton Highway begins Wickersham Dome Trailhead iver aR Manley Hot Springs ali Tat na r ika Rive tan a Ch Ell iot tH . wy . wy Minto To lo Pump Station 7 R. y va ott Elli wa High na R. Rampart e n Riv r o k u Y T White Mountains National Recreation Area k Cree Hess Hess Creek Overlook (MP 21) ana n Beaver Finger Mountain (MP 98) S tees eH K a nu ti N atio n al Wildlife Re fu ge Kan u A rc ti c C i rc le Fox Fairbanks - 12 - North Dalton Highway - MP 210 to Deadhorse LEGEND 0 Arctic Ocean 20 40 Restrooms Miles Gas Prudhoe Bay Mechanic Pump Station 1 N atio nal n al Natio Pe trole u m Rese r ve A laska Nuiqsut Food Deadhorse (MP 414) Lodging Boat Launch Camping irkt ok avan Sag No Camping Picnic Area Riv Drinking Water Scenic Viewpoint er Last Chance Wayside (MP355) Pump Station 2 ve Sag River Overlook (MP 348) Happy Valley (MP 334) D a l to n H i g h way r i ille R v l Co BLM Utility Corridor Information Iv i s Telephone Interpretive Trail RV Dump Station h a k R. Post Office Airport Pump Station 3 Toolik Lake (MP 284) Galbraith Lake (MP 275) R un g i At Pump Station 4 . Airstrip (no service) A rc tic Natio n al Wildlife Re fu ge Trash Can Highway MP Milepost # Administered Lands BLM lands Atigun Pass (MP 244) NPS lands USFWS lands * Selected land is depicted for reference only - not ofﬁcial land status map. Anaktuvuk Pass Dalton Highway location in Alaska Page 13 Page 12 Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve Chandalar Shelf (MP 238) Farthest North Spruce (MP 235) - 13 - A r c ti c N a ti o n a W il d li f Coldfoot Ri ve r To Marion Creek Campground (5 miles) ku yu o kK For e l d Mid k Sla te Cre e k Alaska Department of Transportation (no public services) Historic Coldfoot Cemetary i rs tri p Coyote Air Miner’s cabin Road Trail Trans-Alaska Pipeline Co l df oo tA Alaska State Trooper Pipeline viewing platform e lin e Pip N W E a sk Arctic Interagency a l s-A Visitor Center an r T (summer only) lt Da on g Hi hw ay Coldfoot Camp Post Office Inn at Coldfoot Camp S Wiseman * All buildings in Wiseman are private property unless otherwise noted. Boreal Lodging Wiseman Gold Rush Camp B&B/Mining Museum Old Post Harry Leonard’s Office cabin To Airstrip windmill i se m windmill ek Cre an Kalhabuk Prayer Chapel Arctic Getaway Bed & Breakfast Community Center Pingle Cabin Wiseman Historical Museum public outhouse Reakoff home moose horn pole Wiseman Trading Company N E W S ing k Par To Dalton Highway (3 miles) W caribou horn gate To Wiseman Cemetary Mid NOT TO SCALE - 14 - dl r ive R k ku u y Ko k or eF An Icebound Land The low angle of the sun means less heat to combat frigid temperatures. Thus, permanently-frozen ground, or permafrost, lies beneath much of northern Alaska and keeps water close to the surface. Ice creates strange features in arctic landscapes, some of which you can see along the Dalton Highway. Learn more about permafrost and ice-related features by visiting the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot. Pingos look like isolated hills but have thick cores of ice. As groundwater freezes it forms a lump of ice. As more water migrates inward the lump slowly grows and forces the ground upwards. Pingos can be decades or thousands of years old. Open-system pingos arise from artesian water in the warmer Interior: a tree-covered one lies west of the road at MP 32.7. Closed-system pingos form out of ice beneath old lake beds on the much-colder North Slope. Frost Mounds look like miniature pingos and also have cores of ice. Mounds in various stages occur at Sukakpak Mountain, MP 204. They arise as groundwater moves downslope through the soil above the permafrost and freezes, pushing up the tundra. Mounds may appear and melt over one or more seasons or last for many years. Thermokarsts form when lenses of underground ice thaw, often after a disturbance such as wildfire, earthquake, clearing ground for construction, or a warming period. Thermokarst ponds and lakes often have unstable shores with trees or tundra collapsing inwards along the edge. You can see one west of the highway at MP 215. Ice-wedge polygons form when the ground freezes, contracts, and cracks in geometric patterns. Water seeps into the cracks and over thousands of years and forms thick wedges of ice that push the soil up into ridges. If the ice in the ridges melts, they subside leaving highcentered polygons. Look for geometrically patterned ground alongside the highway north of Galbraith Lake. Polygons are especially prominent around Deadhorse. Aufeis, or overflow, forms on streams during winter when the channel ice thickens, constricting the stream flow beneath. The water is forced through cracks onto the surface where it freezes. Over the winter these sheets of water freeze into thick layers that can fill river valleys and last into August. - 15 - Watching Wildlife Grizzly bears, red fox, caribou, muskoxen, and willow ptarmigan sometimes forage near the highway. Birds of prey such as the northern harrier, short-eared owl, peregrine falcon, and gyrfalcon hunt Arctic ground squirrels, lemmings, and small birds such as the Lapland longspur and golden plover. Scan brushy swales for unusual songbirds, especially Smith’s longspur, yellow wagtail, and bluethroat. Coastal Plain With annual precipitation of about five inches—less than the Sonoran Desert—we expect the Arctic to be dry. But here, underlying permafrost seals the ground. Vast wetlands provide protein-rich vegetation and huge popula