Not knowing if and when we will get back to Alaska, we are making an effort to “do all the things!” while here. One of the things we wanted to do was to drive the Dalton Highway to get to the Arctic Circle. We opted for this instead of driving the Dempster Highway through the Yukon Territory in Canada to the Arctic Ocean, which would have taken several days. And it is not the most ideal road to take an Airstream.

Most of the main roads in Alaska are called highways. Yet, they are mostly two lanes, rarely four or more lanes, sometimes with passing lanes, and sometimes a blend of paved sections and packed dirt/gravel sections.

Dalton Highway (Highway 11) is one of the latter. It starts north of Fairbanks in Livengood, Alaska and extends 414 miles north to Prudhoe Bay, which is on the Beaufort Sea and is where the Alaska Pipeline starts. It was built in 1974 as a supply road for the pipeline and has become “famous” on the Ice Road Truckers show.

We decided to drive a portion of it for the sole purpose of getting to the Arctic Circle to say we have officially been there. And that trek, in and of itself, took us over 10 hours round trip, starting in Fairbanks. We did not pull the Airstream on this day trip, and, given the road construction we went through, I’m glad we didn’t.

If we had planned it better, by figuring out a way to stay overnight in our truck or at a hotel of some sort, we would have gone further. The Brooks Range (a mountain range), part of the Gates of the Arctic National Park, is quite popular with Alaskans and was about two hours beyond the Arctic Circle sign. The town of Deadhorse near Prudhoe Bay is at the end of the Dalton, and it is at least 3-4 hours beyond Gates of the Arctic!

There are two seasons in Alaska – Winter and Road Construction – and there was plenty of roadwork happening on our stretch of the Dalton.

As for traffic … Yes, the Dalton has traffic, especially large tractor-trailer trucks carrying fuel, water, and equipment to/from Prudhoe Bay. There were many times we had the road to ourselves, but then someone would pass us in one of the directions. We had to stop and wait for a pilot car to navigate through long stretches of road construction – sometimes for 20 minutes or so – and the traffic “backup” would be 6-8 vehicles by the time the pilot car arrived! Not very heavy traffic, but some nonetheless.

There is nothing – and I mean NOTHING – on the section of the Dalton we drove. No (or very, very few) houses, no businesses, no gas stations, no restaurants, no Dollar Generals. Nothing! There were two rest stops: one just past the Yukon River bridge going north and one at Finger Mountain (about 180 miles in). There was a campground at the Arctic Circle sign, and the campground hosts made a point to greet all of the sign visitors. They gave us our official certificate that states we arrived in the Arctic Circle.

There were times we could see the Alaska Pipeline running parallel to the road, but most of the time it was not visible as it is well off the road. There were times the pipeline went through a mountain. There might have been a time or two where we drove under it, and we definitely drove over it when we crossed the bridge at the Yukon River as they built the pipeline under the bridge.

Wildlife highlights included 4 grizzly bears far off in the distance and a moose crossing the road.

We hope you enjoy the video!

For previous installments of our Alaska Roadtrip:

4) Summer Dog Mushing experience Iditarod racers Jeff and KattiJo Deeter of Black Spruce Dog Sledding

3) Driving the Alaska Highway

2) Banff National Park, the Icefields Parkway, and Jasper National Park

1) Alaska Roadtrip Installment 1 (Theodore Roosevelt National Park and more!)