Dalton Highway Road Conditions (2021 Edition)

Last Updated on July 24, 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 – 17Dirt/GravelSteep grades in both directions
17 – 18Gravel/Paved 
18 – 22PavedSignificant road damage
22 – 36Dirt/Gravel 
36 – 48PavedLOTS of frost heaves
48 – 89Dirt/Gravel 
89 – 109PavedTERRIBLE, potholes, stretches of road that turn to dirt/disappear
109 – 110Dirt/Gravel 
*** 115ARTIC CIRCLE TURNOFFPhoto Opportunity
110 – 135PavedPotholes NOT FILLED
135 – 143PavedPotholes mostly FILLED
143 – 158Dirt/Gravel 
158 – 165PavedOK, with some frost heaves
165 – 175Paved 
*** 175COLDFOOTBest place for fuel and coffee!
175 – 210PavedBEST stretch of highway! You can easily and safely drive up to speed
210 – 340Dirt/GravelHard packed dirt with loose gravel
*** 245ATIGAN PASSHighest elevation for drive
340 – 347PavedHigher quality pavement
347 – 359Dirt/GravelBumpy, frost heaves
359 – 363PavedDecent 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 – 375Dirt/GravelHard-packed, loose gravel with some washboard and large gravel
375 – 380Dirt/GravelElevated road, hard-packed, occasional bumps, lower quality
380 – 415Dirt/GravelElevated road, hard-packed, loose gravel, large gravel at times
415DeadhorseYOU 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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