Dalton Highway

Guide 2020

brochure Dalton Highway - Guide 2020

Visitor Guide to Dalton Highway in Alaska. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Bureau of Land Management 2021 The 2020 / Dalt Dalto on Dalton H i g h w a y Visitor Guide Experience America’s Arctic Road Conditions . . . pages 6-7 Points of Interest . . . page 8 Bear Safety . . . page 16 Contents Trip Planning 4 Preparing and Safety 6 Mileage Chart 11-14 Maps 23 Planning Your Trip Exploring 8-11 Points of Interest 15 An Icebound Land 17 Watching Wildlife 18 Recreation Facilities and Services 5 Visitor Centers 18 Campgrounds The Dalton Highway BLM Coordinators: John Rapphahn and 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) later 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. Know Before You Go • There is no public access to the Arctic Ocean from Deadhorse. You must be on an authorized tour. Call toll-free 1-877-474-3565; in Fairbanks, 474-3565. • 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 service are extremely limited. See page 5. • There are limited cell phone service or public Internet connection between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. Contact your cell phone provider. • In 2019 the BLM hauled 20 tons of Dalton Highway trash to Fairbanks, the nearest landfill. Please do your part by reducing waste and returning to Fairbanks with what you brought. Kelly Egger Contributors: Craig McCaa, Cindy Hamfler, Zach Million and Erin Julianus Produced and Designed by All photos courtesy of BLM unless otherwise noted. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks. The Dalton Highway Visitor Guide is published by the Alaska Geographic Association in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management. This free publication is made possible by Alaska Geographic bookstore sales. ©Alaska Geographic Cover photo: Fall colors around Nutirwik Creek by AIVC Staff 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, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and hosts an Alaska Geographic Association bookstore. Open Daily from May 24 to September 16, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Phone: 907-678-5209 or 907-678-2014 (summer only). www.blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/aivc 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 TransAlaska 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 in the process. 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. Haul Road or Highway? 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 Road and pipeline workers remember the hardships of completing the highway – long hours of extreme cold, miles of dust, shirts black with mosquitoes, and months of exhausting work. engineering who was involved in early oil exploration efforts on the North Slope. The highway was open only to commercial traffic until 1981, when the state allowed public access to Disaster Creek at Milepost 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. “....I trucked the Haul Road to Prudhoe a few hundred times and fished Grayling Lake and hunted the South Fork Koyukuk for 10 years in a row. I really, really miss it—the beauty, quiet, and the freedom it brings one’s mind. It’s definitely the best mental medicine on earth.” Marshall Casteel Myrtle Creek, Oregon 3 Preparing for the Long Haul Before you leave Fairbanks • Inspect all tires and make sure they are properly inflated • Check all vehicle fluids • Replace worn hoses and belts • Empty your RV’s 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 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 Safety Tips 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. 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). 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. Wildlife Treat all wild animals with caution. 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 page 17 for more information on where to look for wildlife. Wildfires Wildfires may burn out of control and across the highway. Do not drive through areas of dense smoke or flames—you There is no cell phone coverage or public Internet could get trapped by swiftly changing conditions and find access between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. Both are available in Deadhorse. Coldfoot Camp has wi-fi (fee). yourself unable to reach safety. Pay phones: You can use a calling card at the Yukon River Camp, Coldfoot, Wiseman, and Deadhorse. Satellite phones: Some companies in Fairbanks rent satellite phones; check the phone directory under radio. 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 is widespread in Alaska waters and is highly contagious. Wildfires are common along the Dalton Highway. The majority are started by lightning. 4 Weather Visitor Information Centers In Fairbanks Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, Alaska Public Lands Information Center 101 Dunkel Street, #110 Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-459-3730 Fax: 907-459-3729 www.alaskacenters.gov/ Fairbanks.CFM Services Are Limited At the Yukon River Notice: There are no public services at Department of Transportation 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 Open daily from late May to early September. Closed in winter. 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 Milepost 28 until just outside of Deadhorse. SERVICES Yukon Crossing Gas Five Mile* D Tire/Vehicle Repair Coldfoot Wiseman** Deadhorse D D D D Restaurant D D D D Lodging D D D D D Public Phone D D D D Post Office D D Shower D D D D Water D D D Laundry D D Dump Station D Tent Camping D D RV Parking D D Gift Shop/Local Crafts D D D D D D D Visitor Center/Museum * closed in winter * ** D limited services in winter 5 Rules of the Road Road Conditions The road is narrow, has soft shoulders, high embankments, and steep hills. There are lengthy stretches of gravel surface with sharp rocks, potholes, washboard, 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. The Dalton Highway is paved from Milepost 37 to 49 and from Milepost 90 to 197 (Gold Creek). Beyond that there is pavement (with breaks) from Milepost 335 (Happy Valley airstrip) to 362. Road construction occurs in various areas and can cause some delay. Proposed Road Construction aBig trucks have the right of way. aSlow down when passing other vehicles to avoid damaging them with flying rocks. aAlways drive with your lights on so others can see you. aKeep your headlights and taillights clean so they are visible. aStay on the right side of the road. aDon’t stop on bridges, hills, or curves. aCheck your rear-view mirror regularly. • 2020 & 2021 Dalton MP 362 - 414 • 2020 Dalton MP 115 - 126 aIf you spot wildlife, pull over to a safe location For current road conditions: before stopping. • 511.alaska.gov • www.alaskanavigator.org/fairbanks aSlower traffic should pull over at a safe location and allow other vehicles to pass. Mileage Chart Miles (km) Fairbanks Livengood Yukon River Arctic Circle Coldfoot Atigun Pass Galbraith Lake Deadhorse Fairbanks • 84 (134) 140 (224) 199 (318) 259 (414) 328 (525) 359 (574) 498 (797) Livengood 84 (134) • 56 (90) 115 (184) 175 (280) 244 (390) 275 (440) 414 (662) Yukon River 140 (224) 56 (90) • 59 (94) 119 (190) 188 (301) 219 (350) 358 (573) Arctic Circle 199 (318) 115 (184) 59 (94) • 60 (96) 129 (206) 160 (256) 299 (478) Coldfoot 259 (414) 175 (280) 119 (190) 60 (96) • 69 (110) 100 (160) 239 (382) Atigun Pass 328 (525) 244 (390) 188 (301) 129 (206) 69 (110) • 31 (50) 170 (272) Galbraith Lake 359 (574) 275 (440) 219 (350) 160 (256) 100 (160) 31 (50) • 139 (222) Deadhorse 498 (797) 414 (662) 358 (573) 299 (478) 239 (382) 170 (272) 139 (222) • 6 Road Tips Frequently Asked Questions Car Trouble How long does it take to make the trip? When is the best time to visit? 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 Arctic Circle 5 hours Coldfoot 6 hours Atigun Pass 8 hours Deadhorse 13+ hours Factor in an additional 1-2 hours per day for rest stops, wildlife viewing, construction delays, and bad weather. A late May trip offers a chance to see thousands of migrating birds, but snow may still cover the ground. From June until mid-July 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 mid-August 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. Can I drive, walk or cycle to the Arctic Ocean? Does the highway close in the winter? If your car breaks down, get off the road as far as possible and set flares. Towing services are available in Fairbanks, Coldfoot (907-678-3500) or Deadhorse (907-659-3308). 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. CB Radios 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 Be prepared for minor emergencies. 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 (Fairbanks or Deadhorse) you can call the Troopers at 800-811-0911. It may be many hours before help arrives. Rental Cars 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. 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 that’s expensive. Fueling up in Deadhorse. 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. Are the bugs really that bad? YES! Hordes of mosquitoes emerge in mid-June and last into August. Biting flies and gnats last into September. Insects are 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. No. The road remains open for trucks hauling supplies to the oilfields and camps. Although the highway is maintained year-round, in winter services of any kind are only available in 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. Dwarf birch in autumn. 7 Points of Interest Hess Creek Overlook (MP* 21) 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. Photo by Whitney Root 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. 86-Mile Overlook 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 Wayside (MP 98) 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) 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. Follow the side road a short distance to the Arctic Circle sign and viewing deck with interpretive displays. Enjoy your lunch in the picnic area or drive the side road one-half mile uphill to camp in the BLM campground. (Renovation work possibly ongoing summer 2020). Call 907-474-2200 for potential closures. 5 Mile (MP 60) Public campground, one of four 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. Roller Coaster (MP 75) 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 (MP 75), Mackey Hill (MP 87), Beaver Slide (MP 110), and Gobblers Knob (MP 132). Truckers today use the same names. *MP refers to milepost from the beginning of the Dalton Highway. 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. What is the Arctic Circle? The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line encircling the Earth at latitude 66°33’ North where the sun does not set on summer solstice (June 20 or 21) or rise on winter solstice (December 21 or 22). As you travel farther north there are more days with 24-hour sunlight in summer or 24-hour night in winter. At the top of the world—the North Pole—the sun doesn’t set for 180 days. Coldfoot (MP 175) 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. Wiseman (MP 189) 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 subsist by hunting, trapping, and gardening, and welcome visitors. This replica of a miner’s cabin is part of a gold mining exhibit under development in Coldfoot near the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center. Marion Creek Campground (MP 180) This developed campground is operated by the BLM and offers 27 sites. See page 18 for campground details. 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. Yellow Dryas Please note that all buildings in the Wiseman area are private property. Please stay on the roads. 9 “...We enjoyed the vast panorama of the Brooks Range... endless mountains rising and falling as if the waves of some gigantic ocean had suddenly become frozen in full motion.” Robert Marshall, Alaska Wilderness Farthest North Spruce (MP 235) As you approach the headwaters of the Dietrich River, trees grow scarce until they disappear altogether. This last tall spruce, approximately 273 years old, was killed by a vandal in 2004. 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. 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, scattered throughout the surrounding area. There are no public facilities here and no camping. Access to the station is by invitation only. Slope Mountain (MP 300) Slope Mountain marks the northern boundary of the Bureau of Land Management public land. 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. The airstrip is active, so avoid camping or parking there. Photo by AIVC Staff Galbraith Lake (MP 275) Toolik Lake (MP 284) 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 BLM public camping area 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 river from here to the coast. When resting, they look like large, dark humps with a cream-colored “saddle.” 10 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.” 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. Deadhorse (MP 414) 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. Visitors encounter the chilly waters of the Arctic Ocean. Deadhorse vicinity map 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. This aerial photo shows caribou on polygonal ground. Aurora Hotel 11 Fairbanks to MP 215 Renovation work possibly ongoing summer 2020 12 MP 215 to Deadhorse 13 M 5 marMioa 5ilm nrio e sil Cnre e s Cekre Ceak mCpa m grp ogur nodu nd Coldfoot Coldfoot Coldfoot k k S la t e C r e e S la t e C r e e er River k u uk Riv Koyukuk k r y Fo o dle ork K Middle F Mid Alaska Department of Transportation Alaska Department (no public ser vices) of Transportation (no public ser vices) Miners cabin Coldfoot Coyote Air Airstrip Coyote Coldfoot Air Airstrip Alaska Stat e Alaska Trooper Stat e Trooper Pipeline Viewing Platform Pipeline Viewing Platform ne eliine p i l P e ka ip aska P l -A as ns-Al Traans Tr Miner's cabin Miner's o cabin Historico Coldfoot Historic Cemetery Coldfoot Cemetery Arctic Interagency Arctic Interagency Visitor Center Visitor Center (summer only) (summer only) Coldfoot Camp Coldfoot Camp Post Office Post Office Tr Traail il Inn at Coldfoot Camp Inn at Coldfoot Camp Wiseman Wiseman Wiseman All buildings in Wiseman are private property All buildings in Wiseman unless otherwise noted. are private property unless otherwise noted. Wiseman Gold Rush Camp Wiseman GoldMuseum Rush Camp B&B/Mining B&B/Mining Museum Boreal Lodging Boreal Lodging caribou caribou horn horn gate gate Kalhabuk Kalhabuk Prayer Prayer Chapel Chapel windmill windmill k reeeek n C Cr ma an isiesem WW To A To Airstr irstrip ip windmill windmill ArcticGetaway Getaway Arctic Bed & &Breakfast Breakfast Bed Reakoff Reakoff home moose home moose horn horn pole pole Old Harry Leonard's Old Post Harry Leonard's Cabin Post Office Cabin Office Community Community Center Pingle Cabin Center Pingle Cabin Wiseman Wiseman Historical Historical Museum Museum public public outhouse outhouse Wiseman Trading Trading Wiseman Company Company Middle Fork ForkKoyukuk KoyukukRiver River Middle NOT TO TO SCALE SCALE NOT 14 14 14 ToT oWis eism Ce W Cm an em et em etrey an ry ay hwway g i n High ltoon H a D lt Da g kin prakring a p ay hw ay gw i H h n ig altno Hleilses i oDD alto3mm T 3 To 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. 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 Milepost 32.7. Closed-system pingos form out of ice beneath old lake beds on the much-colder North Slope. Frost Mounds look like Frost mounds at Sukakpak Mountain. Photo by Dennis R. Green miniature pingos and also have Percy Pingo rises south of Deadhorse near Milepost 376. cores of ice. Mounds in various stages occur at Sukakpak Mountain, Milepost 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 Milepost 215. Ice-wedge polygons form when the Aerial view of high-centered polygons. Small thermokarst near the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. ground freezes, contracts, and cracks in geometric patterns. Water seeps into the cracks and over thousands of years, forms thick wedges of ice that push the soil up into ridges. If the ice in the ridges melts they subside, leaving high-centered 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. Aufeis at Galbraith Lake. To learn more Permafrost and ice-related features in Alaska are clearly explained and illustrated in Permafrost: A Guide to Frozen Ground in Transition by Neil Davis. This book is available at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot (in summer) and in Fairbanks bookstores. 15 Photo by T. Craig This Is Bear Country! You may encounter bears anywhere along the Elliott and Dalton highways. Both black and grizzly bears are found south of the Brooks Range, and grizzlies roam all the way to the Arctic Ocean. All bears are potentially dangerous. It is illegal to feed wildlife or leave food where they can get it. Food-conditioned bears become a threat to people and frequently must be destroyed. These tips provide minimum guidelines. Learn as much as you can about being safe around bears! Avoid Encounters LOOK AND LISTEN: Bears are active both day and night and may appear anywhere. Fresh tracks and droppings indicate that bears may be close. DON’T SURPRISE: A startled bear may attack. MAKE NOISE: Let bears know you’re in the area— sing, yell, or clap your hands loudly. Bells may be ineffective. Be especially careful in thick brush or near noisy streams. NEVER APPROACH: Stay at least 1/4 mile (400 m) from any bear. Sows may attack to defend their cubs. KEEP A CLEAN CAMP: Store food, scented items, and trash in airtight containers away from your tent. If You Encounter a Bear DO NOT RUN! Running may elicit a chase response. If the bear does not see you, backtrack or detour quickly and quietly away. Give the bear plenty of room. If the bear sees you, back away slowly. Speak in a low, calm voice while waving your arms slowly above your head. IF A BEAR APPROACHES stand still and keep your pack on. Remain still until the bear turns, then slowly back off. IF A GRIZZLY MAKES PHYSICAL CONTACT, PLAY DEAD. Lie flat on your stomach and lace your fingers behind your neck. Your pack will help protect your back. IF A BLACK BEAR ATTACKS, FIGHT BACK. 16 Bears often appear tame but are unpredictable. Keep your distance! Should I carry a firearm? Firearms are permitted for personal protection in the Dalton Highway Corridor, although they are prohibited for sport hunting within 5 miles (8 km) either side of the highway. If you are inexperienced and cannot load, aim, and fire accurately in an emergency, you probably should not carry a firearm. An injured bear may attack more violently or create a problem for other people. Does pepper spray work? Pepper sprays have been used successfully to deter bears. Most sprays have an effective range of about 30 feet (9 m), but are greatly affected by wind. Spray should not be used like insect repellent—don’t spread it on your clothes or equipment. Before taking it on an airplane, tell the pilot so it can be stored safely. Wolves may approach people along the Dalton. In 2006, two people were chased and one was bitten. Some incidents appear to involve food-conditioned wolves. Never approach or feed wolves. Do not walk pets in an area where you see wolves or fresh wolf sign—wolves may act aggressively toward pets, even those on a leash. For more information go to www.adfg.alas

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