The Last Frontier

Here it is, the moment you all have been waiting for. The first big Alaskan adventure of my trip. Let me tell you, this first whimsical decision was quite literally spur-of-the-moment. On the sixteenth of July, we finally crossed the Alaskan-Canadian border. We spent the next few days thinking about where to go first. We decided to go to Fairbanks, to get more information about places to go, and wonders to see. This is where my dad learned about one of the most dangerous roads in Alaska that people call “The Haul Road”. My dad, like the adrenaline junkie he is, thought seriously about actually driving it. It’s about 500 miles of dirt road, mountains and snow, north of Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  The most northward city in America. A 1000 mile round-trip.

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Ice Museum, Chena Hot Springs: by Colleen Ducat 

That night, we stayed in the Chena Hot Springs Resort and Campground, and it just so happened that we met a few people who had just done the haul road themselves; however, the only difference is they had jeeps, but we were driving a large RV with no extra tires, towing a jeep with limited outdoor camping gear. So we took the night to soak in a beautiful hot spring and take a tour of an ice museum and hotel. Complete with apple-tini’s served in a martini glass made out of, yes you guessed it, ice. After a day relaxing and unwinding from being on the road, and thinking about the haul road, we headed back to Fairbanks. Where we decided, now is the time to do it. We were already in Alaska and didn’t know when we would be back, so what was stopping us? Nothing what so ever, because it would be cool just to say we did it. In a split second we were preparing to go north toward the Arctic Ocean. We made sure to get all the right gear and clothing so we would be prepared for anything.

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The jeep is actually red: by Colleen Ducat

It took about five days to do the entire road and within those days, a lot happened. Mud covered vehicles, cracked windshields, 18-wheeler’s driving 80 miles an hour on muddy two-lane roads, snow covered mountain pass, 180 degree view of The Brookes Range, Musk Ox, and walking on the Arctic Ocean for the first time just to mention a few. Now there are only three gas stations on the entire road. The first on the Yukon River, where the prices are sky high. The second is in Coldfoot, Alaska, which is the most northern truck stop in the world– we loved it, and the staff loved us so much that we declared ourselves honorary regulars (we went there only twice). The last is in Prudhoe Bay, so to drive this road, make sure you fill up.

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A walk on the arctic side: by Patrice Ducat

Now when you get to Prudhoe Bay, there is only so much you can do before you turn around: You can visit the general store for all kinds of trinkets, and you can take a tour of the town and go out to the Arctic Ocean provided by Arctic Ocean Shuttle. This is the only way to see the Arctic Ocean in Alaska. There is another way to the Arctic through the Yukon, which is the same kind of road conditions as the Haul Road. We did not do this road, but I heard it has easier access than through Alaska, so take your pick. After we had our fun in Prudhoe Bay, the only thing left to do was turn around and head back the way we came.

 

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