Dalton Highway Road Conditions (2020 Edition)

Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay

It is important to know the Dalton Highway road conditions if you plan to safely drive any portion of the road. 

The Dalton Highway itself is a brutal 415-mile mixture of road conditions. The road is minimally maintained to accommodate semi trucks.

Yet every year thousands of tourists attempt to drive the Dalton Highway. Most want to visit the Arctic Ocean at the road’s terminus in Deadhorse, Alaska.


We were such tourists that successfully completed the drive during the summer of 2018. But we had trouble in our planning. Despite all of our research we could find nothing that described the actual Dalton Highway road conditions. We went into the drive almost entirely blind to the actual dangers of the highway. This nearly cost us on our return trip!

The Milepost offers a great reference so that you know the general sites and fuel locations along the way. Still we drove the entire 830-miles roundtrip without knowing anything about the Dalton Highway road conditions.

Whether you drive a motorcycle, car or truck, RV or even bicycle you should know the road conditions prior to leaving Fairbanks.

Be aware of the Dalton Highway Road Conditions prior to departing on your trip!

The views along desolate stretches of the highway justify the dirt roads and potholes along the way!


We advise that you download and print the ROAD CONDITIONS of the DALTON HIGHWAY PDF for a mile-by-mile record of the Dalton Highway road conditions.


Dirt/Gravel is maintained in periodic portions by adding water and then grading it with a motor grader. Thus the actual conditions of the Dirt/Gravel vary on a DAILY BASIS.

Frost Heaves” are bumpy portions of PAVED roads. We found it easier to drive on dirt/gravel than on paved roads with frost heaves.

0 – 17 Dirt/Gravel Steep grades in both directions
17 – 18 Gravel/Paved  
18 – 22 Paved Significant road damage
22 – 36 Dirt/Gravel  
36 – 48 Paved LOTS of frost heaves
48 – 89 Dirt/Gravel  
89 – 109 Paved TERRIBLE, potholes, stretches of road that turn to dirt/disappear
109 – 110 Dirt/Gravel  
*** 115 ARTIC CIRCLE TURNOFF Photo Opportunity
110 – 135 Paved Potholes NOT FILLED
135 – 143 Paved Potholes mostly FILLED
143 – 158 Dirt/Gravel  
158 – 165 Paved OK, with some frost heaves
165 – 175 Paved  
*** 175 COLDFOOT Best place for fuel and coffee!
175 – 210 Paved BEST stretch of highway! You can easily and safely drive up to speed
210 – 340 Dirt/Gravel Hard packed dirt with loose gravel
*** 245 ATIGAN PASS Highest elevation for drive
340 – 347 Paved Higher quality pavement
347 – 359 Dirt/Gravel Bumpy, frost heaves
359 – 363 Paved Decent with few potholes or bumps

(NOTE: This is where we had our blow out on our return trip. One large, sharp piece of gravel punctured our tire.)

370 – 375 Dirt/Gravel Hard-packed, loose gravel with some washboard and large gravel
375 – 380 Dirt/Gravel Elevated road, hard-packed, occasional bumps, lower quality
380 – 415 Dirt/Gravel Elevated road, hard-packed, loose gravel, large gravel at times
415 Deadhorse YOU MADE IT!!

The Reward of the Dalton Highway

The reward for completing the drive of the Dalton Highway is that you achieve what very few tourists do. You can look back on the journey and count the amazing scenery and animals among your victories. But you can also cross off driving one of the world’s most dangerous roads!

If you are still unsure whether you can complete the drive check out our Dalton Highway DrivingSafety Tips. By following these tips we completed the 830-mile roundtrip with minimal concern!


Dalton Highway Driving Safety Tips

Dalton Highway Driving Tips

Our Epic 2-Day Journey Along the Dalton Highway

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