Spending the day at the end of the road
A summer coated arctic fox skips gracefully through the tundra. Waterfowl with their young swim on small pools of chilly water. Overshadowing the landscape are oil drilling rigs towering into the air. Row on row of small shacks are everywhere. These are pumphouses each dumping oil into the great Alaskan pipeline. This is the end of the road.
The town of Deadhorse Alaska is one of the best off the beaten path destinations for a unique adventure. Not only is it the north end of the pan American highway, Deadhorse is situated on Prudhoe bay, the seat of the largest oil field in north America. You can reach Deadhorse two ways, either flying into the airport, or driving the 414 miles on the Dalton highway from Fairbanks.
The highlight of a day at Deadhorse is the bus tour to the arctic ocean. The tour starts at Deadhorse camp, and winds through the town letting guests feel the atmosphere of an oil camp. Guests will see the equipment and housing of a working oil field. The bus driver will keep up a very interesting dialogue about Alaska, the tundra, wildlife, and the history and future of the oil field. The tour will culminate at the arctic ocean with the particularly brave guests joining the polar bear club. The tundra along the roads is largely untouched and sports a profusion of wildflowers. Wildlife sightings especially caribou are frequent, and even polar bears are a possibility.
Any extra time before or after the tour shouldn’t be wasted. Very few destinations offer such abnormal scenery. The impressive industry of a massive oil field side by side with the tundra ecosystem. Parking lots filled with heavy equipment, tractors, and pickups can be seen in town. There is fishing in the Sagavanirktok river, commonly known as the sag river. And a closer look at the many tundra wildflowers is very worthwhile.
Tours need to be arranged 24 hours ahead to complete a background check. The tours run only during the summer visit to see exact dates. Visitor acccommodations and meals are available at Deadhorse camp. Camping is available on turnouts along the sag river. For drivers, fuel is available in the town. Tourist should have warm clothes as the weather even in summer can be frigid.