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Considering various road trips. Got interested in extreme road trips and in some cases dangerous. Some are very short but not included here. Unlikely most of you will do them but interesting to think about. If you go, hope you do more research than just read this! I’m just introducing the roads. (I’m not planning to drive them!)
The Dalton Highway (unofficially known as the Haul road) was built during the construction of the Alaska pipeline to deliver supplies to the pipeline and to the oil fields. Deadhorse AK, an unincorporated community, that serves the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay is the northern terminus of the highway. The southern terminus is near Fairbanks. It is a 414 mile highway that is about seventy-five percent gravel with 109 miles of pavement. There is fuel available at mile marker 56, mile marker 175 and at Deadhorse. The state of Alaska Highway Department strongly recommends carrying survival gear. Polar bears are also roaming the area of the road at times. Alaska tracks polar bears and closes the road when they are near as it means they are hunting.
When at Death Valley on the Route 66 trip, I talked with a guy who had driven the Dalton Highway on a motorcycle which is not recommended. He told me the truckers (and it’s mostly truckers on the road) were helpful when the bikers pulled off to the side and let them pass. This road is not for the “faint of heart”. The road was featured in several episodes of Ice Road Truckers. The average high in July (the warmest month) is 53 degrees and average low is 38 degrees. Why would you drive this road? Because it’s there!
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Another dangerous road was the MacKenzie River Crossing in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The road was permanently closed in April 2017, replaced by a year around road. The road was the frozen MacKenzie River and was open from December through March. It served the isolated communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. It ran for 194 kilometers over the frozen river. There were also cracks lining the road. So you won’t be able to go, but if you did you would have shared the road with large trucks which can be very unnerving on an ice road! This road was featured on Ice Road Truckers as well. I’m including this one, even though it’s now closed, because it seems to be one of the most dangerous road I’ve found.
The next road is not as dangerous but can be serious if you have a breakdown or haven’t planned for fuel. The entire US Highway 50 runs from Sacramento CA to Ocean City MD. The section of the road in Nevada from Lake Tahoe to Great Basin National Park is 413 miles of road with very few services. The service stations that do exist open and close over time so it may be well over 100 miles between them. If you go, be sure to pack plenty of water and supplies.
The road runs through beautiful country with picturesque valleys and impressive rock formations. It can be a very peaceful road but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! Life magazine dubbed this section of US 50 “the loneliest road in America” in 1986. For that reason and the stark beauty, it may make it to your bucket list.
The entire road was a major thoroughfare before the Interstate System was built. Might be a destination for a cross-country trip if you want to stay off the “super slab” and drive across the middle of America. Time magazine devoted a full issue (July 7, 1997) to tell the story of this road, calling it the “Backbone of America”. Again, the entire road may be on your bucket list.
There is another Canadian highway (called Highway thru Hell) in British Columbia that is extremely treacherous in the winter. That requires more research and I’ll save it for another post.
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The Driveby Tourist
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