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North to Alaska

Rich beyond belief in open space, Native culture, animals, minerals and rivers, the Northern Arctic still resonates today just as it did a century ago.

Back then, the Yukon River was in the news, along with the gold rush town of Nome.

Today it’s Prudhoe Bay and ANWR that make the headlines.

(Photo, Arctic Caribou Inn)

Traveling North From Fairbanks

The mighty Brooks Range. The fabled Yukon River. Three hot springs. They all lie north of Fairbanks on one of several highways

Some of these rugged, lengthy roads are only for the most intrepid.

You can drive the Dalton Highway (also known as “The Haul Road”) almost to the Arctic Ocean, 426 miles one-way. The road is gravel and there are few campgrounds and not many gas stations. The cost of towing a car is very steep, but tires can be fixed at Coldfoot and at the Yukon River crossing.

Once you get to the end of the road, though, you have to be on a commercial tour in order to get past the security gate 7 miles from the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay.

Check with tour companies in Fairbanks -- they'll take you all the way.

Before setting out on any of the roads north of Fairbanks, drop by the downtown visitor center and get current information. This is one of the greatest experiences available to an Alaska tourist, and people love this trip.

(Photos, Northern Alaska Tour Company and BLM Glennallen Field Office, Dennis Greene)

Elliott Highway Goes West

The Elliott Highway is 160 miles long. It starts at Fox, just north of Fairbanks, and travels west to the Tanana River.

The drive has mountain views, alpine tundra, and views of the Pipeline. It ends in Manley Hot Springs. On the way it passes through Livengood, pronounced as in “alive & good.”

Chena Hot Springs Road Goes East

Worn-out miners discovered Chena Hot Springs almost a century ago.

The Chena Hot Springs Road is paved, and travels 56.5 miles east of Fairbanks to the springs.

East to the Yukon River on the Steese Highway

The Steese Highway also starts in Fox. It’s 162 miles long and ends in Circle on the Yukon River.

The first 45 miles of the Steese are paved. There are several campgrounds and signs of gold mining along the way.

Ten miles out of Fairbanks is Gold Dredge #8, which brought in $10 million dollars in gold. At Mile 57, you can see what’s left of the “Davidson Ditch”, the 90-mile long system that brought water to Fairbanks from the Chatanika River to power the hydraulic gold mining equipment in the late 1920’s.

Central at Mile 127.5 is still a mining town. It has a mining museum.

First enjoyed by Native people, then by gold miners a century ago, Circle Hot Springs is 8 miles from Central.

Circle, at the end of the road, was founded in 1893 on the mighty Yukon. It’s called “Circle” because people thought it was at the Arctic Circle, above which the sun doesn't set in the summer. But Circle is actually 50 miles to the south of the Arctic Circle.

Dalton Hwy ("Haul Road") to Prudhoe Bay

The North Slope Haul Road was built in the 1970’s during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It starts at Mile 73.1 on the Elliott Highway and is roughly 28 feet wide – less than two lanes.

The road is a challenge. At Mile 56 at the Yukon River bridge, you can dump your RV sewage and get your tires fixed, use a telephone, gas up, eat out, and stay at a motel.

You travel another 120 miles to Coldfoot for gas, phone, food, RV hookups and a motel.

Then there are some services at Wiseman, 14 miles up the road.

From Wiseman to Deadhorse is 225 miles.

When you read the words “camp” on a map of the Dalton Highway, this does not mean a “campground.” “Camp” is a Pipeline term, meaning a place where construction workers lived – a work camp.

You’ll find some undeveloped campsites and a BLM campground at Wiseman.

Once you get to Deadhorse, you’ll be stopped by a gate. Only commercial tours can go past this point.

Check with the Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau (Explore Fairbanks) before driving up this road.

(Photos, Northern Alaska Tour Company)

(Photo, Arctic Caribou Inn)

Taking a Photo of the Northern Lights

This photo was taken by Brian Moye from Arctic Caribou Inn.

Dick Hutchinson of Circle City is also an expert on taking great pictures of the Northern Lights. He spends a lot of time outside on frozen winter nights, capturing their beauty.

For more northern lights photos, visit his web site:

(Photo, Brian Moye, Arctic Caribou Inn)

(Photo, Arctic Caribou Inn)


+ Activities + Things to Get
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat

arctic grizzly


Northern Alaska Tour Company

+ Map: Roads North of Fairbanks
+ Map: Yukon, Tanana, & Nenana Rivers

+ Map of Bearfoot Campgrounds

Headed North? Don't Miss...
• Midnight sun
• Arctic Circle
• Yukon River
• Brooks Range
• Bering Sea
• Barrow blanket toss
(Photo, Northern Alaska Tour Company)


Many people think the best part of
their trip to Alaska
is leaving the paved roads behind and heading north to the wide, wild open tundra of the Brooks Range.

If you don’t want to travel that far, follow closer roads to towns on the mighty Yukon River – or stop at a hot spring near Fairbanks.

Dalton Highway BLM
Travel the Dalton Highway with the Bureau of Land Management. Includes basic information as well as valuable advice on emergency equipment and highway etiquette.

Dick Hutchinson's Northern Lights Photos
Photographed in and around Circle, Alaska. Many of the photos are astonishing. Worth checking out for anyone interested in the aurora borealis.

The Wandering Arctic Circle
Ned Rozell of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks explains how the earth's 'wobble' causes the Arctic Circle to move. | Alaska Travel & Vacation Information by Bearfoot Travel Guides
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