Lonnie and Sue - Traveling North America

2009 Round trip from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway

We left the motorhome in the campground in North Pole and drove the pickup to Prudhoe Bay.

 Travel Log - August 1 to August 4, 2009        [Tab 2009 Alaska-Prudhoe Bay]

08-01-2009     Sat     Day 109     

  Constant smoke with alternating from cloudy to sunny.  High in the mid 62.

Fueled Pickup:   At Safeway in Fairbanks, AK.  $2.949. 

Fueled Pickup:   At Coldfoot Camp, AK.  $3.999. 

Days Activities:   Departed for Prudhoe Bay at 8:10 AM.  It was 50 degrees and cloudy and smoky when we left.  Stopped at Safeway and got food for the trip and topped off the fuel tank.  Also put 2 gallon of gas in the can I had purchased a few days ago – safety margin.

Stopped at the pipeline visitor’s center about 6 miles north of Fairbanks – took pictures. 

Got on the Elliott Hwy at 9:25 AM.  I failed to note the time we entered the Dalton Hwy. 

We stopped at the visitor’s center at the Yukon River crossing – MP 56.  We took pictures.  In Fairbanks I had given my car keys to Sue and she had laid them down by the GPS.  When we stopped I locked the car and all keys were inside.  Sue went across the road to Yukon River Camp and the restaurant cook came over and helped us.  We also had assistance from several other travelers.  The cook had a “jimmy” but could not get it to catch the door latch.  I finally got the back window sliding glass open.  Had tried to break it out but it is Plexiglas and wouldn’t break.  All of this took about 1½ hours.   

A note about the Yukon River Bridge – the deck is wood and the bridge is built on a 6% grade. 

The cook told us that 2 days ago the smoke was so heavy he couldn’t see the pipeline from the restaurant entrance and I estimate the distance at about 400 yards or less. 

Was told there is a fire 10 miles north of the river but we didn’t see any indication of it.  The smoke was starting to clear as we left the visitor’s center.  Back on the road at 1:25 PM.

We stopped at Five Mile Campground at MP 60.5 and I washed up at the water station.  This is where we parked going and returning in 2005 – a free BLM campground.

At MP 86.6 we took a side road up to an observation overlook called “86-Mile Overlook”.  There was 8 to 10 miles of the pipeline visible from here.  We took pictures.  No more smoke and it was alternating cloudy and sunny.

At MP 115.5 we stopped at the Arctic Circle wayside and took pictures.  

At MP 175 stopped at Coldfoot and fueled the pickup and took pictures.

At MP 188.6 turned left to Wiseman.  Stayed the night at the Arctic Getaway Cabins and Breakfast.  We took pictures.  It was a very small room with a cook stove, heater, and shared bath.  For covers the two beds had comforters that were just bed size so we each took a bed.  Otherwise we would have been pulling covers all night.  We were only able to get this cabin one night.  It was booked on our return trip – cost $95.00.

Dalton highway condition – Aug 1 and 2

  • MP 0 – gravel
  • MP 18.5 – pavement
  • MP 23.7 – gravel
  • MP 36.7 – pavement
  • MP 50.0 – gravel
  • MP 101.1 – pavement
  • MP 175 – gravel
  • MP 249.6 – pavement
  • MP 267.4 – gravel
  • MP 334.1 – pavement – best on the hwy
  • MP 365 – busted up seal coat to Deadhorse – good road

Drove the pickup 288.7 miles today.

08-02-2009     Sun     Day 110  

Weather:  Clear, sunny all day, great visibility, with high of 70.

Days Activities:   Had breakfast of pancakes and eggs.  Toured the town on the way out and back on the Dalton at 8:30 AM and it is 42 degrees.

At MP 237 we stopped on the south side of the summit of Chandalar Shelf and took pictures then drove a few hundred yards to the north side and took more pictures.  It is a fantastic view.  This is where the checkpoint used to be when travel on the highway was limited to permit holders.  The summit is at 3,300 feet.

At MP 242.1 we stopped at the foot of Atigun Pass and took pictures.  The highway assent grade is 12 percent, very winding, and is an avalanche area.  The view is fantastic.  The summit is at 4,800 feet. 

At MP 245 we stopped at the summit and took pictures of the north side of the pass downward.  Then we stopped again about half way down and took more pictures.  

At MP 294 stopped and took scenery shots.  Time was 11:08 AM.

At MP 331 the DOT was laying down a new lift of rock and gravel.  It appears to be from 2 to 5 feet thick.  The completed work area will cover about 4 miles.  We had a 17 minute wait to get through.  Approaching the work area was the only section of road that had not been good 50 mph roadway – had to slow to 40 mph.  

I took some pictures of the Sagavanirktok River’s braided waterway while stopped for the road work.  

At MP 354.6 stopped at the “Last Chance Wayside” for lunch.  As we were leaving the tire monitor went off.  Checked the tires and discovered a leak on the rear passenger side.  A rock had punctured the tire.  I pulled the rock out and plugged it.  Don't leave home without a plug kit and a small 12 volt air compressor.

At MP 378 we saw a small herd of 13 musk oxen grazing under the pipeline.  There appeared to be 4 calves.  There were several hundred yards off the roads – too far for me to get a picture but Sue took some.

In a couple of mile more we saw 6 more musk oxen closer to the road.  They are right in front of Franklin Bluff.  We took pictures and I took some of the bluff.

We could see more oxen further off the road.  

Ten miles from Deadhorse we met 2 men on bicycles headed south.  

We didn’t meet any RV’s the first day but today we met 10 – 4 class “C”, 1 class “B”, 1 travel trailers, and 4 cab over campers.  We also saw several cab over campers on the side of the road and 2 tents. 

Visitor's Center.  This is the only place on the 800 mile long pipeline where people are allowed to walk around it and touch it.

The Artic Getaway in Wiseman.  There are 2 cabins in one structure.  Going up we had the single cabin built on the side of the 2-story cabin.  The single was $95.00 per night but we couldn't get it coming back so we had to pay $175.00 for the 2-story cabin.  See interior shots of the single cabin in the photo gallery.
At the foot of Atigun Pass going north.

Arrived and got checked in the Prudhoe Bay Hotel at 3:15 PM.  Cost $250.00 for the room which included meals.  Then we went to the Arctic Caribou Inn and paid for our tour to the Arctic Ocean for 7 AM tomorrow – cost $40.00 each. 

After a good dinner of Prime Rib and Olympic Halibut, salad, and a huge selection of deserts, we took a drive around camp.  We saw 7 baby fox and took pictures.  Then we saw a caribou lying between 2 buildings.  Tried to get pictures but it got up and left.  We followed it around camp and managed to get a few pictures but don’t know how good they will be. 

Drove the pickup 256.0 miles today. 

08-03-2009     Mon     Day 111         

Weather:  Clear and sunny when we started out but got real smoky about 85 miles south of Deadhorse.  High in the low 60’s. 

Fueled Pickup:   At Deadhorse, AK.  $4.150

Days Activities:   Had a good breakfast then went to the Arctic Caribou Inn and took the Arctic Ocean Tour.  The tour included a video about the oilfield, a trip out to the ocean, then a tour of the camp.  It took 2 hours and cost $40.00 each.  Then we toured the camp again in the pickup and I took some pictures. 

Packed a picnic lunch out of the cafeteria and left the camp at 9:50 AM. 

About 30 miles out of Deadhorse we saw a caribou running toward the road.  Two hunters had stopped and were watching it.  It got to the highway about the same time we got to it.  The caribou stopped on the highway, made two 360 turns on the road, then continued running.  We never did see what caused it to run but we took pictures.   

Saw 2 musk oxen about a quarter mile off the road.  There were several people out next to them but we stayed in the pickup.   

Very uneventful drive after seeing the musk oxen but quite pleasant.  Got back to Wiseman at 3:15 PM.  This time we got the 2-story cabin – cost $175.00.

Just looks like any other body of water, but it is the Artic Ocean and it is as far as you can drive in Alaska.

Drove the pickup 241.0 miles today. 

08-04-2009     Tue     Day 112      

Weather:  Smoky all day with high of 70. 

Fueled Pickup:   At Coldfoot, AK.  $3.999. 

Days Activities:   The lady at the cabin said there were 14 full-time residents of Wiseman.  Had breakfast and left Wiseman at 8:40 AM.  Stopped at Coldfoot for fuel and took pictures.  

There was a notice posted at the register that the fire that we were told about Saturday that was 10 miles north of the Yukon River may jump the road today at MP 65. 

The state is in the process of constructing a campground at the Arctic Circle.  We drove through it and it appears to be about 75% complete. 

We stopped at Yukon River Camp for lunch.  Had planned on stopping at the Hot Shot Café at MP 60 but decided to give Yukon the business since the cook had helped us with our problem on Saturday. 

Got back home at 3:30 PM.  It was a nice easy pleasant ride back.  I put the spare 2 gallon in when we got back to Fairbanks. 

Drove the pickup 284.6 miles today.

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