Do a couple of searches on the forum and you should come up with lots of threads. Here is one.
We drove ourselves up the Dalton to Deadhorse this summer. It's a beautiful drive. We ran into a Holland America bus at the Arctic Circle, Coldfoot and again at Deadhorse and talked to some of the people on the tour. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. Food is pretty good at the cafeterias. Accomodations seemed to be pretty basic (employee housing, more or less. But better than our hotel parking lot at Deadhorse. Marion Creek CG near Coldfoot was much nicer.) We took the bus tour out to the ocean and several of the people from Holland America "swam" in the icy water. We just put our feet in. They were heading out that afternoon on a small plane. We saw moose, muskoxen, caribou and grizzlies on the drive as well as numerous arctic birds.
I went with Hugh Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org)in September this year. His tours can book up a year ahead so would suggest you contact him early to see what he has available.
This was around ten days and is only a group of six maximum as he takes the tour to Barter Island to see the Polar Bears. Ecology, wildlife and aurora are the focus and we stayed on the way at Igloo Eight at Wiseman. Bernie, Uta and the children are great you feel like part of the family. Two nights there exploring the area, doing photography and photographing the aurora. On to Prudhoe Bay and a flight to Kaktovic. Accomodation is basic but to do the trip and see the bears makes it all worth while. On the return trip we again stopped many times for photographic opportunities and saw an amazing variety of animals and birds. Foxes, squirrells, eagles, a white wolf, bears, ptarmigan, different species of owls, etc etc and muskox which were just amazing.
ginny, can you provide some more information on the Deadhorse trip. Did you rent a car specifically for that drive? and how long was the round trip. Sounds like you really enjoyed it.
Just a mention that rental cars are not (well officially) permitted by the rental companies on unmade (gravel..mud..whatever) roads and in most cases you have to sign a waiver to say you will not do it or that you will be personally responsible. So be aware to read the small print and make sure before you book a vehicle. This is pretty standard in most countries.
there are at least 2 agencies that specifically advertise rental cars available for the Dalton Hwy. Arctic Outfitters is the main one. A premium rate mind you.
And driving this road is not for the fainthearted. I have heard some horror stories about some people being ill-prepared when breaking down, and it does happen. No AAA road service out there :-)
If anyone wants to drive the road, just be sure you know what you are getting into, rent from a company that officially allows it and hope for the best!
We drove our own truck there as part of a longer trip to Alaska. We sleep in the back of the pickup - hence the campground and sleeping in the parking lot. We did enjoy the trip to Deadhorse. The country is beautiful and I loved seeing all the wildlife. There were more cars than I expected - some were rentals, some not. There were even a few (but very few) RVs.
We also drove several other rough roads in Alaska and Canada - the Cassiar, the Steese, Denali Highway, McCarthy Highway, Dempster (only as far as Tombstone) and Top of the World. The Dempster was much rougher - but really beautiful for the 75 miles or so that we drove it.
As someone else said, it isn't for the faint of heart. The road is mixed gravel and paved. The paved sections were sometimes worse than the gravel, between the frostheave roller coaster, the potholes and the sudden transitions between gravel and pavement. We got a flat about 35 miles from Coldfoot and were able to get it 'fixed' at the garage there. One little ding in the window was our only other problem - that and 500 pounds of mud on the car ;-)
We drove it in two days each direction, and they were long days, partly because we drove slowly and partly because we stopped often to look around and take pictures.
GinnyinMd, Thanks for the information. That was a heck of a road trip ! Sounds like you had quite an adventure.
Initially my cousin said she wanted 2 see the Arctic Circle sign, a very long day trip,so we could fit it in. But now she's talking about Prudhoe Bay. We only have 12 days so 4 days for Prudhoe would mean giving up Fairbanks-Valdez. Not. And it's not a drive where you can push it and make up time! I'll suggest she do the Alaska Airlines day trip to Barrow instead.
Hi Curious063. We travelled from Anchorage via Denali and Fairbanks up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse, for 8 day, from September 9 2008. We rented a luxury camper (5.7 ltr Dodge ute with camper on back) from GoNorth Campers, Fairbanks and Anchorage. The vehicle worked well, and was warm, even at -13C overnight at Chandalar Shelf. We camped just north of Fairbanks, at Savage River in Denali, and on the Chandalar Shelf just below the Atigun Pass. We did strike a thick snowstorm on the Brooks Range, but managed well with just 4WD, no chains. We're used to driving in snow in NZ. We overnighted at Deadhorse, by the river just outside town, after doing the oil tour. Loved the area, had wonderful weather, and fell in love with the musk oxen! We did have all our own food, but found food at the cafeterias very good. We didn't have a radio so couldn't talk to the truckies, but think that you really should have one. Should have 2 spare tires too, mounted. We took great care to move to the side of the road whenever we saw a truck, either behind us, or coming towards us. It was a great trip; we'd recommend it.