Last April, on my flight from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, Alaska to see the Aurora borealis, I returned to Fairbanks on the famous Dalton Highway. It tracks along the famous Alaska pipeline, through and over some rough and tumble country, including the frozen Yukon River. Here is Mental Floss view of the Dalton:
“Sick of traffic? Try heading for Alaska’s Dalton Highway, considered the least-traveled road in the United States, CityLab reports. The 414-mile highway, traversed largely by a handful of truckers and passing through only a few small towns, sees the fewest cars per year of any road in the U.S., according to America’s Quietest Routes, an interactive website made by Geotab, a company that helps optimize truck fleet routes.
The highway has been featured on the History Channel reality show Ice Road Truckers and is considered one of the most dangerous routes to drive in the world. There is a 240-mile stretch that features zero services, and it’s full of steep grades, avalanche-prone areas, and the slow-moving landslides known as frozen debris lobes. Despite the dangers, it’s a picturesque route, one with views that writers regularly call “Tolkienesque.”
One thing’s for sure—you probably don’t want to drive it on your own.
Truth be told, I flew up to Coldfoot from Fairbanks, and took a bus back through the Arctic Circle, across the Yukon River, and back to Fairbanks. But my childhood friend, Terry H. was a bush pilot up there during the building of the pipeline. He has probably seen every mile of this lonely road.
The weather was cold for me, but too warm for the mush dogs to pull us around. We stopped at the famous lemonade stand outside of Fairbanks. The Aurora was a glorious sight, one I recommend that everyone see in their lifetime.
They say you should never drive it alone. The truckers have CB radios. Many tour vans were stranded along the roads, on icy stretches of highway, or in deep gullies. The wind is relentless, and needless to say, even in April, it was cold!