Wild Lands of the West | The BLM, National Geographic Magazine: North Slope Alaska Pipeline And Haul Road

Graphic landscape of green open land and a pipeline and highway.

A thin ribbon of humanity flows across the tundra along Alaska’s Dalton Highway. Nearby, the trans-Alaska pipeline carries Prudhoe Bay oil south 800 miles to the port of Valdez. The Dalton highway and the Alaska pipeline ae visible in the open tundra of the North Slope.

The road was built for the pipeline and is known as the “haul road” for the trucks carrying supplies as the pipeline was built. It was named after James William Dalton, an Arctic engineer involved in early oil exploration efforts. The Trans-Alaska pipeline, which runs through Bureau of Land Management land above the Yukon River and Brooks Range, originally cost $8 billion and was completed in the 1970s.

The Dalton highway ends 414 miles north of Fairbanks in Deadhorse, the farthest north you can drive in Alaska. Support pipes along the Alaska Pipeline are cooled by refrigerant coils that keep them from transmitting heat into the thaw-sensitive permafrost. The pipeline pumps 47,000 gallons of oil a month. The Bureau of Land Management oversees 2.1 billion acres of land along the Dalton Highway north of the Yukon River.