For thrill seekers Alaska’s Dalton Highway has been ranked as the third most dangerous road in the world to drive by Driving Experiences.
The James Dalton Highway also known as the “Haul Road” has been ranked the 3rd most dangerous highway in the world. The 414 mile highway running from Fairbanks to the North Slope of Alaska was opened for drivers in 1974 to enable trucks to supply businesses with oil and gas. The highway twists and winds around steep mountains of the Brooks Range, where the lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S (-62 degrees Celsius) occurred in the winter of 1971. Despite its remoteness the Dalton Highway carries a good amount of truck traffic: about 160 trucks daily in the summer months and 250 trucks daily in the winter.
In 1994 the Dalton “Haul” road was opened to tourists, which shocked some of the professional truck drivers who had been driving the treacherous two-lane road for years. In order to help decrease the road’s fatality rate, a helicopter patrols up and down the highway twice-daily looking for broken-down vehicles and accidents. There are few services and just one fuel stop at Coldfoot, which sits halfway to Deadhorse, Alaska, at the north end of the highway. All vehicles must take extreme precaution when driving on the road, and drive with headlights on at all times. There are quite a few steep grades (up to 12%) along the route. The road itself is very primitive in places, and small vehicle and motorcycle traffic is highly discouraged. Approximately 1 in 50 motorcycles who drive the Dalton will crash, and the nearest medical facilities are in Coldfoot and Deadhorse. Anyone embarking on a journey on the Dalton is encouraged to bring survival gear.
The highway, which directly parallels the Alyeska oil pipeline, is one of the most isolated roads in the United States. There are only three towns along the route: Coldfoot (pop 13) at Mile 175,Wiseman (pop 22) at Mile 188, and Deadhorse (25 permanent residents, 3,500-5,000 or more seasonal residents depending on oil production) at the end of the highway at Mile 414.
Dalton Highway Express is a small Alaska-owned business that specializes in summer-time (beginning of June to the end of August) transportation on Alaska’s Dalton Highway. Dalton Highway Express is the only operator in North America to offer scheduled land transportation to the Arctic Ocean.
Approximately 20,000-25,000 visitors travel to the North Slope annually and are commonly adventure travelers or part of a package tour. Many package-tour visitors are attracted to the landscape and climate, local Native culture, and soft adventure activities; tours may include a ‘Top of the World’ tour to Barrow, a Prudhoe Bay oilfields tour, and/or a trip to Anaktuvuk Pass.
Hertfordshire, UK -based firm Driving Experiences creates buzz with its list of the world’s scariest roads. The Dalton Highway is primarily a haul road for the oil patch on the North Slope. If well prepared it can also be a wonderful adventure for intrepid tourists in the short summer season. The visitor survey results show a very high satisfaction rating for those who drive the Dalton Highway.