Coldfoot is one of the few Alaska communities north of the Arctic Circle accessible by road. The town serves as a stopping place for those driving the Dalton Highway on their own or as part of a tour.
It is said that Coldfoot got its name in 1900, when gold seekers made it that far, got cold feet and turned around. Today it serves as the farthest-north truck stop in the United States.
Coldfoot is located roughly 174 miles into the 414-mile Dalton Highway. The Dalton Highway is often called the “Haul Road” because it’s mostly used by truckers en route from the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks and points farther south. It has been made famous by the TV show “Ice Road Truckers,” and more people than ever are discovering its scenic beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities. It is also one of Alaska’s most remote and challenging roads and it is mostly gravel.
Things to do
Nestled in the southern foothills of the Brooks Range Coldfoot is the perfect base camp for exploring the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operate a visitor center in Coldfoot offering travel information and nightly presentations on the natural and cultural history of the Arctic as well as backcountry trip planning. The center is open from June 1 through September.
Locals report great fishing for grayling at nearby creeks and several hike-in lakes. The trans-Alaska oil pipeline runs adjacent to the highway, restricting some hunting activities in the area. As always check with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to stay in compliance with local regulations.
Tour operators offer visitors the Dalton Highway and Coldfoot experience without having to drive themselves – and in fact most car rental companies in Alaska won’t let you take their vehicles on the Dalton Highway anyway. Trips vary but often include a one-way drive and return flight, starting and ending in Fairbanks.