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7 Tips for Driving the Dalton Highway in Alaska

We drove the Dalton Highway in Alaska north of the Arctic Circle to the Brooks Range! We check-in from Coldfoot (midway point to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay) to share with you our experience driving this infamous road along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and share some tips for making your own trek.  

7 Tips for Driving the Dalton Highway in Alaska:

#1: Drive SLOW

The road has major frost heaves, potholes, loose gravel, and can get muddy if it’s raining out. 

#2 Have Good Tires

Many people experience flat tires on this trip as it is rough on tires (especially if you hit too many of the crater potholes). Having good newer tires will help you avoid this!

#3 Have a Spare Tire

This is absolutely essential. If you get a flat, it’s most likely a long way to the nearest tire shop.

Dalton Highway Alaska
Dalton Highway Alaska near Brooks Range

#4 Be Respectful of Big Trucks

They know the road better than you and are driving faster – slow down and pull over to give them room AND to decrease the speed at which a rock could be thrown into your windshield if they get kicked up.

If a truck comes up behind you, let them pass. Slow down, pull over (when it is safe to do so) and put on your blinker to indicate that they can pass you.

#5 Be Respectful of Motorcycles

The Dalton Highway in Alaska is a very popular ride for bikers and one of the most dangerous roads for them because of the road conditions and loose gravel. Slow down when passing them going the other way so as to not throw rocks at them and to not cloud them in dust which could reduce visibility and cause them to hit loose gravel or a pothole. 

#6 Don’t stop in the middle of the road or pull off on the other side of a hill

Traffic can’t see you and if it’s a truck they can be moving pretty fast. There are lots of pull-offs for taking pictures or breaks, and if you do need to stop, pull over as far as you can and put your flashers on.

#7 Fuel up when you can

Plan your fuel usage carefully, and err on the side of caution. We topped off in Coldfoot both times we passed through. It’s the last stop before Deadhorse (the northern end of the road). Fuel is also available at Yukon River Camp. 

We slowed down for every vehicle we passed on the road, drove an average speed of 30-40 mph, and drove with caution. We thankfully did not get any flat tires or have any other incidents on the road (besides having a couple of frost heaves and potholes sneak up on us).

Pro Tip: Check out our ‘Go North’ Alaska Itinerary for help planning your own Alaskan adventure.

Dalton Highway Recommendations:

Stop and read all the info plaques – This makes the drive fun knowing more about the history of the area

Stop and hike the Finger Mountain interpretive trail

Eat a Salmon burger at Yukon River Camp – they are amazing!

Free campground, dump station, and potable water fill at 5 Mile Camp north of Yukon River

Visit the Arctic Circle signpost!

Visit the Arctic Circle Interagency Visitor’s Center in Coldfoot, Alaska – It’s a really nice center with info on all the designated areas in northern Alaska. They have Ranger Programs every night at 8 PM. 

Enjoy the ride!

Have you driven the Dalton Highway in Alaska, or have plans to? Let us know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out Episode 11 of Go North that showcases this drive:

Driving the Dalton Highway to the Arctic! Fun in the Midnight Sun & Fairbanks AK | Go North Ep 11

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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David P Head

Sunday 5th of September 2021

Just got back from running the Dalton. Dangerous road. Things can go wrong in ways you don't expect.

Coming back, there was an oncoming truck. There was also a parking area on the right, so, according to the dashcam GPS, I entered it at 15 mph. Well, it was wet and muddy. The car refused to turn parallel to the road, and slid sideways ALL the way across the parking area and came to a stop with the right rear wheel dangling over a cliff, maybe 5 - 10 feet high, not sure. But we were 100 miles from anywhere, the AAA would have taken a really long time to reach us, if we somehow could get word to them, and of course survived going over the cliff.

But who would expect the parking area to be that slick, and the car to slide ALL the way across it???? Wow, just wow.

Joe Young

Monday 22nd of July 2019

really am enjoying this. We hope to do the run next spring in an old Lance 1131 on an F350 DRW diesel but not 4x4. We have log 5000 miles in it this summer so far. What is on your trucks suspension? I look carefully when you have a short shot of the truck moving over rough ground and can see your sway is about like mine. A trucker friend who makes this run suggests starting out in March, I'll have to ask him what part of this run he is referring to. Keep posting!