• Photo: Marchello74 | Dreamstime.com

The Dalton Highway

Plenty of hardy, adventurous visitors "do the Dalton," a 414-mile gravel highway that connects Interior Alaska to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay on the Beaufort Sea. Alaska's northernmost highway, the Dalton was built in the mid-1970s so that trucks could haul supplies to Prudhoe and Trans-Alaska Pipeline construction camps in Alaska's northern reaches. The Dalton is both an engineering marvel and a reminder of the state's economic dependence on oil production. It carries crude oil across three mountain ranges, 34 major rivers—including the Yukon—and hundreds of smaller creeks. It crosses permafrost regions and three major fault lines, too; half of the pipeline runs aboveground and is held aloft by 78,000 vertical supports that proved their ability to withstand sudden, violent ground shifts, including a 7.9-magnitude earthquake along the Denali Fault.

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