In January of this year, Charlie Hickman, a felllow Copper Canyon rider, sent out an email to the group asking if anyone was interersted in riding the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. He caught me at a weak moment and before I knew it, I was committed to a ride to Alaska. We traded a few emails over the next few months and finalized our plans in May when I visited him in Huntsville on my way back from Georgia.

The Dalton Highway was built as the haul road for construction and supply of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline project and it is still referred to by many as the "Haul Road". It officially begins about 70 miles north of Fairbanks and continues 414 miles to Deadhorse, several miles from the Arctic Ocean. The 360 miles north of the Yukon River was built in 5 months time in 1974. There are no towns along the way - once you leave Fairbanks there are only two spots to buy gas -- the Yukon River crossing and Coldfoot.. There are no services at all in the 240 miles between Coldfoot and Prudhoe Bay and we'd have to pack some extra fuel to extend the 200 mile range of our motorcycles.

There have been many magazine articles and Internet reports describing the experiences of people who have traveled this highway by motorcycle. Most of the stories indicate that we're in for a real adventure. They talk of gravel roads, rain, slick mud, crashed and/or broken down motorcycles, encounters with critters, mountain passes, snow, cold, and host of other hazards. A couple of our Copper Canyon riders have made the ride, however, and they tell me that it's not that bad, especially if the weather is good. All the accounts agree that more than 75% of the 414 miles is gravel.

In addition to the adventure of riding the Dalton Highway, the entire ride up to Alaska offers interesting roads, magnificent scenery, and some legendary places. This is going to be the "ride of a lifetime" for both of us.

We decided to meet up in Hamilton, Montana on June 15, have new tires mounted on our motorcycles that are more suitable for gravel roads, and leave for Alaska on June 16. Our proposed route was:

If time permited, we also wanted to see Dawson City and ride the "Top of the World Highway" from Dawson City to Chicken to Tok. If we didn't have time on the way up, I planned to travel this road on my way home.

Check out the links in the right panel to see my accounts and photos of our trip. Be sure to check out the Google Earth link - it shows our route on a world map and the locations of some of the photos we took. You can also zoom in, pan, and tilt to see much of what we saw.