Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Current Road Conditions for the Dalton Highway
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Open Roads Forum  >  RVing in Canada and Alaska

 > Current Road Conditions for the Dalton Highway

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Posted: 07/28/19 07:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We drove up from California for our first trip around Alaska. We are currently in Palmer and headed to Fairbanks soon. We have seen some pretty rough road so far in our journey and are considering going North on the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to maybe Coldfoot. Does anyone know the current road conditions on that stretch of roadway? It can't be much worse than what we had on the TOK cutoff to Valdez.



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Posted: 07/28/19 08:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We took the Dalton Hwy to a bit north of the Arctic Circle on June 9. Generally wasn't too bad. The gravel parts were better than the paved parts. You're not going to want to drive 60 mph on it but watch your speed and keep an eye out for frost heaves. It's really not too bad.
We did the Tok Cutoff from Valdez to Tok on July 5. Overall it was worse that the Dalton.
Be prepared to end up with a very dirty vehicle on your trip along the Dalton. If it's dry then it's going to be really dusty with dust getting into everything. If there's even the littlest of rain then it's going to have a muddy top that will cover your vehicle. My maroon F-350 was totally tan/brown by the time we got to the Yukon. When that stuff dries on your vehicle it's like concrete. A high pressure washer wouldn't knock it off. I'm glad I didn't pull our camper on it. Not because it's rough but because of all the mud.
I'm glad we took the Dalton even for that short distance. Altho I don't think it's the best scenery in Alaska but it is something to see. We only saw one moose and her calf. Saw a lot more animals on other roads in Alaska.
We were surprised by the road conditions in Alaska, BC, AB, YT and NWT. We had heard the horror stories how bad the roads were. They weren't airport runway smooth but they weren't near as bad as we had been told to expect. The roads I drive everyday in central Illinois are worse in places. Watch for the frost heaves and the orange markers on the shoulders indicating a rough patch. Don't try driving 50 mph. Some places we were 20 mph and slower.
We found it best when we saw a truck coming either at us or coming up behind to just find a place to pull over and let them pass. We weren't in a hurry so it was no inconvenience to let them pass. No cracked windshields.
Stop for lunch at the café on the north side of the Yukon river. Their hamburger is huge.

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On the Road

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Posted: 07/28/19 08:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jbrack wrote:

It can't be much worse than what we had on the TOK cutoff to Valdez.

You think so? [emoticon]

You do realize you’re asking about the condition of a dirt road in the summertime? Most likely it will alternate between mud and dust depending on when and where it last rained. Any report more than a day old, the conditions have changed. This month we drove through dust, mud, and best of all, fresh tar on the road. Which signifies nothing, because it’s all changed since then.

You can be assured the road is passable, because it’s in daily use. And it’s filthy, wet or dry. And you’ll encounter more potholes than you wish to see. The asphalt is almost always worse than the dirt or gravel for that reason.

49 States, 6 Provinces, 2 Territories...


South Dakota/Indiana

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Posted: 07/29/19 04:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You might want to inquire on the Canada/Alaska forum. Sue.T lives in Whitehorse and travels a lot up into those places. She is a good source on routes and conditions and hangs out on that forum.


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Posted: 07/29/19 03:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Moved from Roads & Routes.



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Posted: 08/04/19 03:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Specific conditions on the Dalton (and other dirt/gravel highways in the region) are rather dependent on the weather and on where they happen to be doing construction. When I took the Dalton all the way to Deadhorse and back on my Alaska trip a couple years ago, it was definitely doable but not a gentle ride, partly because it's something like a thousand miles of variably rough road. For the most part it was fairly decently smooth gravel roadway, or gravel roadway in various stages of being reconstructed to be fairly decent.

I saw only a few travel trailers, genearlly smaller ones, and more truck campers or SUVs with rooftop tents. I think I may have seen at most one or two other class C's, generally smaller ones. I definitely felt in the minority going in a 32' long motorhome. I don't recall seeing any fifth wheel trailers, though there may have been one or two. I am very glad I went, but it was hard on the motorhome; I'm not sure I would take my RV over it a second time. It also got very, very dirty, to the point where it was impossible to tell that there were stripes and swoops on the sides.

As for road conditions, enquire locally; one good place would be the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks (which is well worth visiting in its own right).


Northern Nevada

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Posted: 08/04/19 04:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Dalton highway is much further north. It is well into the permafrost zone. It is pounded by loaded semis all the time. There is no help out there. In summer you can have some serious melting and muddy conditions. There is a reason no rental companies want anyone driving their rigs on the Dalton. My uncle worked on the North Slope for years.


North Pole, Alaska

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Posted: 08/05/19 05:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When after arriving in Fairbanks, check for current road conditions...

It will be more likely not a pleasant drive at all due to the heavy rains that just occurred the past week or so, and forecasted to have at least two full days of rainfall this week as well, with occasional rain or good chance of rain throughout the remaining days this whole week too.

I driven the Dalton Highway in heavy rainfall a half dozen times and the road is unforgiving in a lot of portions, so fair warning if one decides to drive it during significant rainfall.

The only good thing about the recent rainfall is all the dense smoke in that area had finally subsided, as it was a nasty hot summer here with so much fire danger, especially in the Dalton Highway corridor and areas nearby.

Typical August is rainy season here in the Alaska Interior.

As mentioned about the hard runnin' semi truck traffic on the Dalton Highway, I already dealt with over 150 semi truck wheel rims that were abused or damaged this summer alone.

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