Located at the northernmost reaches of the U.S. road system, Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay sit on the coast of the Arctic Ocean at the heart of Alaska’s oil patch.
About Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay
Deadhorse is more of a work camp than a town in the traditional sense. It was established to support oil development in the surrounding area. Most buildings are modular, pre-fabricated types, situated on gravel pads on tundra bog. Virtually all the businesses are engaged in oil field or pipeline support such as drilling, construction and maintenance.
Things to do
For the truly adventurous, the 414-mile Dalton Highway, or “Haul Road,” as it’s known to Alaskans, is unique in its scenic beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities. The highway begins just north of Fairbanks in Interior Alaska and ends at Deadhorse. It is Alaska’s most remote and challenging road, with little in the way of highway services. The road is mostly gravel, and motorists need to watch for ruts, rocks, dust in dry weather, potholes in wet weather and trucks and road maintenance equipment at all times. If you choose to drive it, however, you will be rewarded for your troubles by several exciting sites along the way, including crossing the Yukon River, the Arctic Circle (one of the best photo opportunities in the state is standing next to the sign that marks the Arctic Circle along the Dalton Highway), the ruggedly beautiful Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Access to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean is restricted to oilfield workers and tour groups with special permits. For security and safety reasons, unescorted visitors are not allowed on the docks or on area roads. A number of tour agencies out of Fairbanks, Anchorage and in Deadhorse offer excursions to the Arctic Ocean as well as tours of the Prudhoe Bay oil facility. Most rental car companies won’t allow their cars to be driven on the Dalton Highway, but Fairbanks-based tour providers also offer bus tours north to Coldfoot and beyond, or fly-drive combination tours.
The volume of truck traffic hauling materials between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay can be high and it is recommended motorists give these trucks the right of way. Slow down and pull over to the side of the road when meeting oncoming trucks.
Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau (907-457-3282) provides information on traveling to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay.
Arctic Ocean tours
At Deadhorse tours are available that visit the oil fields and then move onto Prudhoe Bay where visitors can dip their toes into the Arctic Ocean or even jump in if they're brave enough. In between they view marshy tundra and shallow lakes where at times a variety of wildlife can be encountered including waterfowl and caribou.