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Prudhoe Bay (also called Deadhorse) is all about oil. That oil powers Alaska's economy, paying for most government services and filling coffers of the state's $35-billion Permanent Fund. Located on the far northern edge of the continent, Prudhoe is a major industrial center surrounded by wilderness, with wells, roads, pipes, pump stations, and other facilities carpeting an almost-level tundra landscape. Oil heads south to Valdez via the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline, with the Dalton Highway paralleling it most of the way to Fairbanks. The unpaved road is open to the public, but drivers will face rough roads, speeding trucks that spew ...

Prudhoe Bay (also called Deadhorse) is all about oil. That oil powers Alaska's economy, paying for most government services and filling coffers of the state's $35-billion Permanent Fund. Located on the far northern edge of the continent, Prudhoe is a major industrial center surrounded by wilderness, with wells, roads, pipes, pump stations, and other facilities carpeting an almost-level tundra landscape. Oil heads south to Valdez via the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline, with the Dalton Highway paralleling it most of the way to Fairbanks. The unpaved road is open to the public, but drivers will face rough roads, speeding trucks that spew gravel, and almost no facilities. Spare tires and good towing insurance are a must, or leave the driving to one of the tour or bus companies operating out of Fairbanks. The oilfields at Prudhoe Bay are not open to the public, but limited lodging, meals, and group tours are available. Travelers on the Dalton Highway typically stop at the Arctic Circle, at the Yukon River crossing, and the "farthest north truckstop" of Coldfoot. The last of these is aptly named; in 1971 the thermometer at nearby Prospect Creek hit the lowest temperature ever recorded in America: -80 degrees F.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    July and August, but be ready for chilly conditions even in mid-summer