Dalton Highway questions
Doing a little research about the Dalton Highway...
...coming from Pennsylvania, so please excuse my ignorance as I saw a show on the TV explaining this highway, but from the point of view of a "driver" in an auto, so I was wondering if has anyone ridden it on a MTB, sections or the entire thing? Are there an events using this corridor or nearby?
Kinda of a bucket thing and if all aligns I might be able to pull this off in the next 2 years if it was worth the trip.
I've never been up there, but know a bit about the road.
I know others have ridden it as part of long, cross-country type rides (North Slope to Mexico or East Coast type things). Usually part of some kind of benefit ride to raise money for something. The scenery should be pretty nice up there, but it won't be the most enjoyable ride just because of the traffic. Although there isn't a huge volume of traffic, there aren't really any shoulders and the traffic you will see is almost all large trucks that kick up lots of dust and can throw softball size rocks a long ways at high speeds. There aren't really any facilities along the way as well for camping, so when you stop, you will likely just be trying to camp along the shoulder of the road or in the tundra. I think there are restrictions about going all the way to the ocean in the north, but can't say for sure what they are. I seem to recall that only authorized people/vehicles are allowed beyond a certain point as you enter the oil fields.
I am not aware of any bike events using this road, although there are some road races on the first part just outside of Fairbanks. You won't really get very far up the highway with those since they are based in Fairbanks.
A great alternative for some awsome scenery would be to ride in to Wonder Lake in Denali National Park off of the Parks Highway. This is about an 85 mile one-way ride (round trip it for about 170 miles). Traffic is restricted, so pretty good for bikes in the summer. Gravel road most of the way, so riding is pretty easy, but you will get dust from the tour busses. If you ride all night (around the Solstice, you have just about 24 hours of sunlight), you won't get much of any traffic to worry about and the animals are out a lot more as a result. lots of opportunity to see bears, moose, caribou, sheep, etc... There are some restrictions regarding camping in the park, but you can check that out on the Park Service website if you want to look at heading that direction.
Another option would be to ride acroos the Denali Highway that goes between the Parks and Richardson Highways. Similar type of terrain, dirt road, etc..., but open to public traffic so you have a few more vehicles to deal with.
Personally, I would opt for the Wonder Lake and Denali rides over the Dalton Highway, but I can see the draw for that one as well.
I toured it from Deadhorse to Fairbanks. fire away with questions.
It's a good trip.
If this guy can do it on a unicycle then I would think an MTB should be manageable:
Alaska 2008: The Dalton Highway Write-Up (Long) - Unicyclist Community
We want... a shrubbery!
If it's a bucket list item, then there's no convincing you either way -- just make sure you' do it in July -- that's the best month by far. Having worked along the Dalton, I can say that while it is a 'pretty' ride, it's not worth it when there are so many better rides within the state; if you're flying all the way up here just for that ride, you're wasting your money in my opinion.
Calvin : Ahhh, another bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs! The second bowl is always the best! The pleasure of my first bowl is diminished by the anticipation of future bowls and by the end of my third bowl, I usually feel sick.
Hobbes : Maybe you shouldn't use chocolate milk.
Calvin : I tried Cola, but the bubbles went up my nose.
The north slope to about the Arctic circle is the best part. There is something really cool about riding into and through the Brooks range when you can't even see it from Deadhorse, it just keeps growing on the Horizon.
Did you happen to record the total elevation gain from Deadhorse to Fairbanks? I know you did the ride back when few people used GPS, etc, but I was wondering if you had that number. I know it's as hilly beatch but I've never seen the actual number.
I still need to finish that ride, too.
I biked from Deadhorse to Fairbanks last summer. It is a fantastic bike tour - amazingly scenic. I think the Dalton is about a 1/3 paved these days, the rest is gravel or dirt. Generally it is in fairly good shape, and can be done with on a mt bike or a standard touring bike with cross tires. I did it on a cross bike with 32mm cross tires and did fine. Folks say it is pretty hilly, but there is only one climb of note, which is the climb up Atigun Pass, and it really is not much of a climb. Otherwise I didn't really find it exceptionally hilly, just lots of little rolling hills.
If it is wet there can be fairly intense sticky mud in the sections that are treated for dust. Fortunately the road dries out pretty fast.
Do you have any questions in particular?
The Milepost is probably the best reference on the road. It is written for motorists, but has all the major attractions on it.
Some details about my trip can be found here. (Warning, blatant blog promotion )
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/3P_Nl_EHZzStyHr0pW7HQdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=e mbedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-CGIvihtaL2w/Ti5g3NKfYLI/AAAAAAAAI4Y/vHWeCo_XbHo/s400/IMG_4407.JPG" /></a>
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More photos here.
Last edited by spruceboy; 04-28-2012 at 09:39 PM.
Reason: Link to more photos.
I would add that you need to be very prepared for mosquitos. As long as you can bike over 8 mph or so, they shouldn't be a problem while riding. But as soon as you stop, you'll be attacked. So make sure you have a full tent--none of that tarp tent stuff up there.
And I would be carrying a spare tire and 3 tubes. Usually, I consider 1 spare tube and some patches to be enough. You'll have to carry a lot of food. There is no resupply along the way, and you'll be burning lots of calories for about two weeks from Deadhorse to Fairbanks. Loctite any screw that might rattle loose. (Use the blue stuff.)
Things you won't have to worry about: needing a headlight to see or missing a turn.
@spruceboy Nice write-up on your blog, really enjoyed it. Gotta put that ride on my someday list.
Thanks! The dalton is really a great bike tour, maybe the best bike touring in Alaska, with the possible exception of the Denali NP road.
There are actually several places to re-supply. At least one of the lodges at Wiseman carries basic stuff (raman, pasta, oatmeal, etc), and you can get meals and junk food at Coldfoot, Hotspot, and Yukon River camp. There is a post office at Coldfoot, so it is also possible to mail supplies to yourself. The lodges at Wiseman are surprisingly cheap - I think we paid $53 for a night at the Boreal Lodge for the two of us. We had someone drop a package off for us at Coldfoot, and we resupplied there.
I saw several folks attempting to bike tour the road without doing any resupplying, and it looked painful - hauling that extra weight up all those hills didn't look fun.
Wow stuff I never would have thought of...
...It really shows the amount of preparedness one needs to do this type of ride! Ideally to have a support vehicle is the way to do it. I hear there is a company that rents autos to do such a drive.