We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving the Dalton Highway

West Sussex, United...
Level Contributor
3 posts
201 reviews
Driving the Dalton Highway

My husband and I are visiting Alaska for the 2nd time from the United Kingdom in 2011 and hope to drive the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Prudoe Bay however our travel agent, although she has found a car hire firm in Fairbanks to higher a car specifically for travelling that route, has now received information from the people she deals with in Alaska saying they do not advise it. They say the highway is dangerous to drive, they recommend a guided Artic Ocean Adventure. Can anyone advise because of their own experience please.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
13,117 posts
233 reviews
1. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

This great drive is all about respect, care and caution.

I would not consider it dangerous; but you must exercise care/caution because of the quality of the road. The road is a mixture of "hard pack", dirt, pavement (very little pavement & it was very poor quality), gravel & stone. Drivers need to count on flat tires & cracked/broken windshields - sort of plan for the worst & hope for the best. We did not damage our vehicle at all. This drive/road is all about respecting the road & the trucks that make a living on it.

My wife and I drove the Dalton Hwy (aka Haul Rd) in June 2006. We did it with our front wheel drive Honda CR-V (2003). We were not in a rush (took a full week) and had a "trip of a lifetime" (lots of camping & hiking &, of course, a swim in the Arctic).

I don't recall exactly; but I'm pretty sure (depending on road conditions) we spent about 2 or 3 hours driving at speeds of 5 to 10 mph (very slow), we spent about 3 or 4 hours at 25 to 30 mph and we spent the rest of the time on very hard pack dirt road that you could drive very fast on (60 mph +).

This is a long drive and I feel one must love nature to tolerate it one way & really love nature to be tolerate it both ways. We (wife & I) LOVE nature & did this drive not just for the destination; but for everything along the way.

I've listed some links below which you might find useful.

Good luck,

Scott

favorite link:

alaskageographic.org/uploads/pdf/dalton-vg20…

other useful links:

…state.ak.us/stwdplng/…byways-dalton.shtml

fairbanks-alaska.com/dalton-highway.htm

www.bellsalaska.com/myalaska/daltonhw.html

blm.gov/ak/…dalton_hwy.html

http://www.alaskageographic.org/

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
1,876 posts
7 reviews
2. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

Scott,

Thanks for a good, detailed and positive posting! Most often this topic gets lost in a lot of negatives, and I think you catch the essence in that it is the TRIP, not the END POINT that is the goal. Prudhoe Bay is not that attractive, and if getting to the Arctic Ocean is the goal, a flight to Kaktovik or Barrow is more in order.

The one caution I will add is that the drive is about 400 miles from Fairbanks, and the lack of support facilities and the distance might be quite a cultural shock for someone coming from Great Britain.

71

London, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
53 reviews
3. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

Go for it, My Canadian mate and I did it in June 2010 on two old bikes(1984 BMW and 1986 Honda) took 2 days up and 2 back. Take your time, watch out for stupid drivers on holiday, driving to fast. The truckes were no trouble, all gents, but the road doed get slippery, and gravel wes deep on the last 50 miles.You have a great trip, you will not want to come back to the UK.

Mike, London UK

London, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
53 reviews
4. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

Go for it, My Canadian mate and I did it in June 2010 on two old bikes(1984 BMW and 1986 Honda) took 2 days up and 2 back. Take your time, watch out for stupid drivers on holiday, driving to fast. The truckes were no trouble, all gents, but the road doed get slippery, and gravel wes deep on the last 50 miles.You have a great trip, you will not want to come back to the UK.

Mike, London UK

Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
4,345 posts
23 reviews
5. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

The truth is adventurous people drive it all summer long. Most car rental companies do not allow their cars to travel on the road so make sure it is allowed in your contract. If it is, I'm sure they will have lots of advice for you.

It is a LONG haul up and back - I only made it as far as the Arctic Circle in 2009 but will make the distance this year and also fly into Gates of The Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks as well. If you look at the map this is a huge chunk of Alaska that few visitors get to - if you have the time and inclination there is nothing really "dangerous" about it so long as you are prepared for the distance. The biggest advice is to slow down and move over when the trucks pass. You will learn the correct speed to drive soon enough.

However, if you are pressed for time a tour company could drive you in vans faster than you are willing to go, I'm sure.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
13,117 posts
233 reviews
6. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

If you still plan on driving the Dalton Hwy (Haul Rd.) you may want to check with this Anchorage based car rental agency (see: http://alaskaa1carrental.net/). They may let some of their vehicles on the Dalton.

Scott

West Sussex, United...
Level Contributor
3 posts
201 reviews
7. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

Many thanks for the advice.

West Sussex, United...
Level Contributor
3 posts
201 reviews
8. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

Many thanks for the advice

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
1,876 posts
7 reviews
9. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

Two neighbors from Anchorage in their 80's teamed up to take the drive this July in the old motor home one of them owns. They say they took their time and did it in 5 days round trip from Anchorage, overnighting in Fairbanks and Deadhorse. One is a serious photographer, the other a geologist, and they say they took their time, stopped a lot, napped when they wished, found time to flirt with some cute tourists, and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. They had no troubles and found the road in excellent condition. They stopped at both Coldfoot and Wiseman.

The lesson I would point out is that conditions can vary, and they found good conditions matched with good attitudes. Personally, I would have taken longer to do the drive and dawdled a lot more on both the way up and back!

Lake Tahoe...
Level Contributor
9,264 posts
63 reviews
10. Re: Driving the Dalton Highway

An alternative to the Dalton Hwy is the Dempster Hwy in Canada. We drove that (with our own car) back in 1994. Unlike the Dalton it includes two ferry crossings beyond the Arctic Circle. At the end of the road is Inuvik where you can catch a flight/tour to Tuktoyuktuk and stick your toes in the Beaufort Sea. The road is not paved, except for Inuvik.