Traveling North on the Dalton Highway (Haul Road)
Dalton Highway - Yukon River Bridge Travel Blog› entry 6 of 18 › view all entries
The morning started innocently enough. Finally we had a nice, sunny morning without a hint of rain. We ate breakfast, broke down camp, and reloaded the van with all of our gear. I took a spot in the back as opposed to the front seat I had on the way into Manley Hot Springs two days ago. On the way out of town, Jody took us back up past the Hot Springs greenhouse to the home of Gladys Dart. What a fun and interesting person to talk to and visit even if for only a short time. She has been a Manley resident for some 50+ years and was the first teacher at the first school in Manley Hot Springs. In fact said school was located just a stone's throw from the hot springs/greenhouse and was warmed in the cold winters via the hot spring water.
So we departed for the return trip down the Elliott Highway back to the Dalton intersection. We made a few stops along the way to experience the views of the wilderness around us. After the clouds and rain of Sunday's drive in, the views today were nothing short of amazing. After about 2 hours or so (80 miles on the Elliott) we reached the turnoff and MP0 (mile post zero) of the Dalton Highway. As the speed limit sign in the photo indicates we were 416 (MP416) from the end of the road at the entrance to the oil fields in Deadhorse. Deadhorse proper is considered to be MP414, so there was a long way to go.
The road itself is uneventful. Trucks will come blazing by occasionally and there are a few RVs and other vehicles, but mostly its you and the road and the environment around you. We passed a couple of people bicycling up the road which would be fun except for all those trucks. We reached the EL Patton Bridge across the Yukon River a little over an hour after starting on the Dalton (MP56). This bridge is the only bridge across the Yukon River in Alaska (and the Yukon effectively runs all the way across Alaska from the Canadian Border to its mouth in the Berind Sea) and one of only four total vehicle bridges spanning the river at all (the other 3 being in Canada). On the north side of the bridge is a small truck stop and motel where we gassed up the van and a small BLM Visitor Center and picnic area.
We still had 100+ miles to go to get to Coldfoot (MP175) and Marion Creek Campground (MP180). So we got back into the van and proceeded north. Little did we know what was about to happen next...