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Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

Tampa, FL
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Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

a group of friends and I are planning a trip to alaska this july. Our primary goal: drive the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse.

My questions are: should we stay in Deadhorse? I've seen pictures of the motels there and it makes me wonder what they're like on the inside. I'm not expecting luxury, but are they clean/comfortable/safe, or should we plan to sleep in the car? 2 beds per room? terribly expensive? I'd love to hear from someone who has stayed there.

Second question: i've read many articles about the road quality of the Dalton, but i'm not sure how recent they are. Has the surface improved in recent years, especially north of Atigun Pass?

Finally, If we plan to stop at every attraction, take lots of pictures, and drive slowly to prevent tire blowouts, can we expect the round trip to take 2 days? or 3?

Thanks in advance.

Alaska
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1. Re: Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

I do not have a current copy of the Milepost with me, but I hear it hasn't changed much since I drove it years ago. Condition of the road will change with time and maintenance, as it is gravel and requites regular road grading to keep it smooth and wash-board free. Check these sites:

…state.ak.us/stwdplng/planresc/road_cond.html

themilepost.com/road_reporter/road_condition…

and best

http://511.alaska.gov/

Plan on a full day (400 miles) up and back, so allow an overnight if you really want to enjoy and take your time without pressure. It is magnificent land. At Prudhoe you will NOT be able to drive to the Arctic Ocean. The roads are private and controlled by guards. This is one trip where I would say getting there is all the fun! Being there is nothing special, it is an oil camp.

There are two choices for hotels, the Caribou Inn and the Prudhoe Bay hotel, both remnants of the pipe line camps so the facilities are basic, clean, maybe $120 or so a night with meals included at the Prudhoe Bay. Expect two simple beds per room, think camp not hotel, with showers and toilet down the hall. The food ranges from good to great. Meals can be bought separately.

That should be enough to get you started. Oh, look into purchasing a copy of the "Milepost" which covers all of our Alaskan roads in detail. You may find it invaluable.

71

Fairbanks, Alaska
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2. Re: Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

Also, hope you are not planning to take a rental up the haul road as rental companies make you sign that you wont take their cars there. Cracked windshields and headlights are pretty common. I haven't driven it yet but most people say give yourself two days up and two days back. Have fun!

Alaska
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3. Re: Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

Yes, 1stimestar is correct, the one night up and one night back with one night at Deadhorse is to be recommended. My original posting was poorly worded. It is some 400 miles from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, most of it gravel, and it may be that Coldfoot is the last place to gas up or get services. Expect to stop before the Yukon River bridge for a security check.

South Milwaukee, WI
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4. Re: Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

takemytrip-dot-com:

Two friends and I are also planning a drive to Alaska, including the dalton highway, from Milwaukee, WI over the last 2 weeks of July. I have the same questions as you regarding "recent" info/updates on improvements in the road surfaces (progress on paving projects, etc). All the Internet research I've done includes reports that are 2 or more years old.

I went to a barnes&noble today to look for the 2006 Milepost, but it wasn't there yet. A few other 2006-edition guidebooks (frommers, etc) had some useful info that I browsed, but didn't buy. Hopefully I'll find more info in the coming months.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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5. Re: Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

Don't think that if you wait, they'll pave the Haul Rd. It's not "in progress". They can't pave the road and maintain it if it is paved. It's over permafrost which moves. Gravel roads can be graded to some semblance of smooth but paved roads can't. Our gravel is sharp too so plan on bringing a spare. Good luck.

Seward,Alaska
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6. Re: Driving to Prudhoe Bay-- Any advice on lodging in...

Ohhhh my....I'll tell you a short version about my adventure up there. It was June and we had spent the night at Chena Hotsprings, it was about 10am and 80 degrees. I convinced my girlfriend that we should drive to the Arctic Circle. Some of the road wasn't too bad, but for the most part not good at all. We saw lots of red pipeline security trucks, semi-trucks, porcupines and shredded tires.

Was not impressed with the sign at the Arctic circle. I then convinced her to go to Deadhorse and I would get us a hotel room. We saw some wildlife once in the flats of the Brooks range. Caribou, musk ox and a grizzly bear. We didn't think we would ever get to Deadhorse, one heck of a very very long gravel slow going road. We did about 25 mph tops the whole trip and still got 3 flats!

Deadhorse 10am 24 hours of driving, taking turns with my friend. We get there and it's SNOWING! OMG we ended up in hell! Checked out the gift shop and bought a couple "we've been here" things. Unless your really interested in the pipline, there wasn't nothing of interest to see. Gas was very spendy. They wanted $75 pp for a rundown trailer converted type building. Can't remember what they call them but since we had our 2 daughters 11 and 12, we couldn't justify spending $300 to stay overnight and decided to head down the road a bit and slept in the van. Being June we had daylight the whole time.

Atigun Pass we got a flat tire. We started with 4 new tires but I didn't know our spare was a donut. We limped to Coldfoot where they wanted $150. We passed on it knowing that some trucker would help 4 stranded females in the middle of nowhere in the worse case scenerio.

We next stopped at the Yukon River where there was a big garage and restaurant that looked like they might have tires. We slept in the van again. We found out Hotspot had tires so we backed tracked there and they put one on for $45.We had boughten gas there on the way up.

We next headed towards Manley Hot Springs. I liked that road the best for scenery. A couple miles before town we got another flat tire. I put a rock under a back tire to keep the van from rolling back and watched it slice the tire, so here we are sitting with 2 flats and only 1 spare. A van that was following behind stopped and I hopped in to find the only store/post office/gas station. The owner was also the chief of the village and had a bunch of tires. He got us going for $80 for 2 retreads. I now know 1st hand why 10 ply tires are used there!!

We had a nice stay camping by the river and using the hot springs which are totally different than Chena's. It's also the local's bath house but inside this huge greenhouse it's filled with blooming plants and trees. Grapes hanging above your head etc. The mosquitoes where awefull the whole trip.

We continued our adventure on down to Valdez where we sent the Chief of Manley Hot Springs a postcard with a big thank you for helping us.

Spent the night in Valdez. Headed home to Seward totally exhausted but with great memories.

My friend that works on the pipeline informed me, after the fact,that he had been stuck in Atigun Pass for a couple days during a blizzard in July. Arctic survival gear along with extra spare tires are a must.

Would I do it again? ONLY with someone I know I can get along with very well,for long periods of time and take turns driving with. I would have a roof full of spare tires and be in a very dependable vehicle with supplies to last for a few days. I would plan on sleeping in the vehicle.

Do not take rental vehicles unless you have written permission, most don't allow it. They will be able to tell! The dust and dirt will never be completely gone no matter how well you clean. It gets EVERYWHERE! We were covered inside and out.

This got alot longer than I planned but I do hope it gives some idea on what to expect. We used the Milepost book as a guide.