Alyeska Pipeline and Musk Ox

Arctic Circle

Arctic Circle

Alaska  – The road between Fairbanks Alaska to Deadhorse in Prudhe Bay is about 450 miles in length and ends at the Arctic Ocean. The Alyeska Pipeline is within sight a good deal of the way. Gasoline is available at Yukon Crossing, Coldfoot, and at Deadhorse Camp in the Prudhoe Bay area. Fill up on gas in Fairbanks with extra tanks if available before heading out.  Coldfoot is must stop – great cafe!

Alyeska Pipeline

Alyeska Pipeline

Make sure your vehicle or bicycle is in good shape as there are not any repair facilities along the way. Rumor has it that some people even walk this route but they must be a hardy lot with plenty of time and energy and enthusiasm. (I met a hitch hiker one time) In the picture below this is the only place I have seen a house near the pipeline. I don’t think anyone actually lives there but there must be an interesting story behind this arrangement. Anyone?

Alyeska Pipeline and house

Alyeska Pipeline and house

There is a very good Arctic visitor information post in Coldfoot AK. There is a truckers cafe and gas depot at the Coldfoot Camp there on the other side of the highway. I paid 4.59 a gal for gasoline last week (Sept 2016). Gasoline is also available in Deadhorse where I paid 4.95 a gallon last week. There really are not any shops along this road named the Dalton Highway – also known as the haul road.

cooling fins

cooling fins keep the supports cool so the permafrost deep below does not thaw

The supports holding up the pipeline are kept cool by the use of these cooling fins. The idea is to keep the supports from melting the permafrost and sinking in.

Teflon supports

Teflon supports

The pipeline isn’t actually attached to the supports it rests on. The support beams are level and the pipe bracket rests upon some Teflon pads so the pipe can move instead 0f being held rigid and inflexible. This takes into account the huge temperature differences between summer and winter and the expansion and contraction that result.

Alyeska Pipeline

Alyeska pipeline

Also earthquakes are very common in Alaska but many turns in the pipe and the Teflon pads allow a lot of movement without breaking anything.

Atigun Pass

Atigun Pass

The weather south of the Atigun Pass can be very different than that on the northern side of this mountain pass. There are long grades going uphill and downhill and there is often snow up there. Be advised that there is always the avalanche danger because of the steepness of the terrain and the snow can break free at any time. Atigun pass elevation 4,739 ft. – the only pass in the Brooks Range crossed by road. No stopping or parking any where on the pass for safety reasons.

Alyeska Pipeline

Alyeska Pipeline

I often thought the created drama reality TV type shows often fabricate the situation to make things look more sensational to gain more viewing but the truckers that drive this route really deserve respect for running this route safely with large loads keeping Prudhoe Bay supplied year round.

Alyeska Pipeline

pipeline route over the pass

Musk ox – I saw 17 musk oxen about 30 miles south of Prudhoe Bay. They were busily feeding as winter was just around the corner and hard times ahead.

musk oxen in the Arctic

musk oxen on the tundra

The musk ox are not overly concerned with visitors and I was basically ignored as I waited for them to put their head up for a photo.

musk ox grazing

musk ox grazing

I will walk in a long way with knee high boots as walking on the tundra is very spongy and wet.

Musk Ox on the North Slope

Musk Ox on the North Slope

Road worker Sept 2016

road worker

road worker in Prudhoe Bay

Portable drilling rig. These rigs are usually moved about in the wintertime so there is not as much damage to the tundra as it will be frozen solid.

portable drilling rig

portable drilling rig

North Slope – Deadhorse

oil rigs

oil rigs on the North Slope

It is rare that people are just walking around in his area. Everyone is just in Prudhoe Bay to work usually on two week on – two week off schedules. All housing and food is paid by the oil companies and the workers stay in large dormitory style housing. There will be a gym and entertainment centers and there is even a full sized swimming pool somewhere that is also a reserve water supply for fire patrol to use if necessary.

hardy swimmer

taking a dip in the Arctic Ocean

Arctic Ocean – a very hardy swimmer took a very quick dip and did a few breast strokes in the Arctic ocean. Ray and Nate both took a quick swim and proved themselves to be the one percenters !

Bravo – well done ! Be advised that you can not actually drive up to the Arctic Shores in a private vehicle as a tourist. You must go in a security van run by the people up there in Prudhoe. (a logical precaution)

Arctic Ocean

Arctic Ocean

dutchpickle logo

dutchpickle on the slope

Arctic Ocean

note – I will try to add to this page when I get a better internet connection

I am back at my home base in Homer Alaska right now and have good internet speed.

I was just reading in the Alaska Dispatch News (Monday  Sept 12 2016 ) that has just been a potential major oil discovery in the Nanushuk formation that might be one of the largest oil discoveries in Alaska.

Alyeska Pipeline

Alyeska pipeline

Musk ox

Musk Ox in Prudhoe Bay

the musk ox of the Arctic


more musk ox near Prudhoe Bay Alaska on the tundra below

musk ox group

group of musk oxen on the tundra

Tundra view – south end of north bound musk ox

the back side of a musk ox

the backside of a musk ox

Beluga I saw this morning near Beluga Point on the Turnagain Arm heading out of Anchorage on the road to Kenai

Beluga whale

Beluga whale

dutchpickle Alaska – unorganized collection of observations and pictures

dutchpickle logo

dp logo

Sep 9, 2016

3 responses to “Alyeska Pipeline and Musk Ox”

  1. notes – from April 2020 looking back

    I did see one small convenience store in one of the complexes but very little merchandise and limited hours open.

    there is a modular unit set up as a hotel for the odd tourist of which there were few. I did eat there a few times and enjoyed talking with the others that had made the trip up north. It was an odd mix of interesting people.

    there was a small shelf of books in the cafeteria that made interesting reading

    one thing is that any trip to the Beaufort Sea shores of the Arctic Ocean must be booked at the office of this tourist “hotel” because you must pass through a checkpoint to get there. You will need identification ie a passport as there is a pre background check on all visitors. You will travel with a guide or caretaker or whatever. Ours was a good entertainer and full of information presented in a hilarious way.

    That turned the rather bland trip into a fun adventure. One guy of the group went for a very quick swim but for most it was a quick jump in and jump out ! Rather cold !

    I drove a camper van up to Deadhorse from Homer AK to Fairbanks and it was a good trip for me. Fuel was the major cost and I found a few camp spots along the way. There are very few and you must not block any access roads to the pipeline itself. Camping is actually very rare and even finding off road parking is rare once you get past Coldfoot.

    note – there is also fuel available at the crossing over the Yukon River on the north side

    I did van camp in Deadhorse at the parking area of the hotel but no one else was. It just wasn’t justified with my budget to get a room but I did book a trip to the Arctic shores with them. I do not remember the cost but am thinking it was about a hundred US dollars. By the way valid ID will be required , no exceptions . (passport) There is a guard gate checkpoint that must be cleared.

  2. I did need to fuel up in Deadhorse. There is a credit card self serve fuel pump. I think gasoline was about 6 US a gallon. You would drive into a rubber lined pit (for spills). Enter the small portable shack and using your credit card, go outside and fill up your tank. Keep in mind that all gasoline must be trucked in from down south so it is naturally expensive.

    Going up to the slope is definitely not a budget holiday but it was something I always wanted to do. It was about 1,000 miles one way from where I was staying in Homer AK at the time. aprox 2,000 miles round trip

    The highlights for me were the northern lights and the musk ox. seeing musk ox is hit or miss and I was just lucky on this trip .

    There was a fabulous aurora borealis display on my return trip. The best I have ever seen.

    And I was blessed by a group of Belugas as I was driving south of Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm

    It was a good trip for me.


  3. additional comment !

    …just want to add some advice about the id required. – You will have to check in a day in advance at the “hotel” unit with your valid passport

    There will be a real background check with the federal govt. (it must be a passport)

    there is a fee

    It’s just the way it is

    you will be escorted in the security van by a pretty humorous security guide

    you are allowed to swim in the Beaufort Sea (Arctic Ocean) if that is of interest – the water is super cold ha ha and swimmers often have extra shorts and also carry a towel

    give it a go ! why not.


    For me one of the interesting things was meeting the other travelers that made the trip up north. I was fortunate to see a number of musk ox and some spectacular northers lights on the way back. It was about 1,000 miles one way from Homer Alaska to Deadhorse AK (2,000 miles round trip)

    There are very few places to pull off the road and be out of traffic . (only access roads to the pipeline and you must not camp on them and block the road)

    The Gates of the Arctic visitors center at Coldfoot is the most interesting stop along the way.

    Happy trails !

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