Last of the Dalton Highway Dos and Don’ts

January 30, 2014
By Phil Freeman
The main purpose for the Dalton Highway is for the oil companies to be able to service the oil fields at the Arctic Ocean. Large 18-wheel trucks are constantly running this road.
The main purpose for the Dalton Highway is for the oil companies to be able to service the oil fields at the Arctic Ocean. Large 18-wheel trucks are constantly running this road.

9. Do: Be Aware of Truck Traffic

The main purpose for the Dalton Highway is for the oil companies to be able to service the oil fields at the Arctic Ocean. Large 18-wheel trucks are constantly running this road. Until a few years ago, these trucks were the only vehicle allowed to go beyond the Yukon River. The culture of trucking in this neck of the woods has not changed much from those days: the truck own the roads. When you are riding this road, you need to adhere to a new set of rules and become very aware of the effect large trucks have on your ride to the Arctic.

Here are some skills you will need to develop:

When you cross a truck on dirt: Hunker down behind your windscreen. These trucks are throwing rock – sometimes the size of baseballs – and you need to protect yourself. Do not ride with your face shield open. Keep as much of your body behind protective surfaces as possible.

Let trucks pass. Many of these trucks are empty after delivering their supplies and are trying to make time. They run at speeds of up to 90 mph! Keep vigilant in your rear view mirror for these monsters creeping up on you. To be sure, you will be passed! The shoulders of this road are extremely soft, and will throw you into the bushes. So, when pulling over to let them by, don’t slow down too much, and do not get too far off the side of the road.

Be aware of where you park. This highway will be empty for up to 30 minutes at a time. No traffic makes a rider complacent. Add a herd of caribou and the rider wants to stop and take a picture. At the time of parking, no one is around, so you choose the road as the parking lot. Then, (and this has happened) two 18-wheelers come from opposite directions and will need to pass each other right where you parked! There is simply no room for you bike to be there, and this is when things get tricky!

If you ever stop along the Dalton, make sure to pull completely off the road. Otherwise, you may get an ear-full from an Ice-road trucker in the Coldfoot parking lot! (or worse).

10. Do: Outfit Your Ride

Bring the tools necessary to get you out of a pinch. Be able to take off your tire, replace an inner tube, patch a hole, plug a hole, take your bike apart, put air into your tire… All the things you wish you had brought seem to come to mind when your bike fails. Take time and prepare beforehand. Those mosquitos are mighty hungry!

Accessorize your bike. Make sure it can take rocks and fall over and not get hurt. Protect your engine on the sides and underneath. Protect your hand guards. Make sure your pegs do not get slippery. Make sure your seat fits your body. Do everything you can to make that bike you ride comfortable, well balanced and able to take a hit. You will be glad you did.

These are the basics if you want to have a safe and memorable trip as far north as you can go on the North American continent. Your health and safety, of course, come first. Your lust for adventure will not be stopped. In fact, it should be encouraged! Just take a couple of these steps to make sure you get home safe and sound and have the time of your life. Ride safe!