Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse, Alaska, is located on Prudhoe Bay at the end of the Dalton Highway, 498 miles north of Fairbanks.
Deadhorse Camp, at Milepost J 412.8, is a good source of visitor information. They cater to the traveling public and also run the Arctic Ocean Shuttle; phone 907-474-3565. (Other businesses here are designed for industrial services, not tourism.)
Since Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay does not resemble a traditional town, it is hard to get oriented, especially when it is foggy. Best bet is to follow signs to any of the businesses mentioned in The MILEPOST®, because they serve the traveling public. The road does not go through to the Arctic Ocean, which is reached via a secured area that is unavailable to the public outside of a tour. Inquire about a tour before arriving and allow 24 hours for security clearance. Phone Deadhorse Camp at 907- 474-3565 or toll-free 877-474-3565 to reserve a spot on the Arctic Ocean Shuttle.
NOTE: Cell phone service is available in Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay and for about the first 14 miles south on the Dalton Highway. Beyond that, there is no service until Coldfoot and then near Fairbanks. Tune in to radio station 1610 AM for weather information.
Deadhorse Airport, N70°11.69’ W148°27.91’; elev. 65 feet; length 6,500 feet, asphalt; fuel NC-100, B, mogas. A 5,000 foot private gravel airstrip is owned and maintained by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. A state-owned heliport is located here.
Deadhorse has an Arctic climate with temperatures ranging from -56°F in winter to 78°F in summer. Precipitation averages 5 inches; snowfall 20 inches.
There is scheduled jet service to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Barrow. Packaged tours of the North Slope area are available from Anchorage and Fairbanks. Air taxi service is available at Deadhorse Airport.
The industrial complex is clustered near Lake Colleen, on Prudhoe Bay, on the Beaufort Sea Coast, Arctic Ocean. Prudhoe Bay is ranked third in the nation in reserves and output. It has produced more than 12.5 billion barrels of oil since production began. Kuparuk, 40 miles west of Prudhoe Bay, is ranked sixth in the nation.
Most buildings in Deadhorse are modular, pre-fab-type construction. Some are set on refrigerated concrete slabs that do not melt the permafrost. Other buildings are constructed on pilings. Virtually all the businesses here are engaged in oil field or pipeline support activities, such as drilling, construction, maintenance, telecommunications, warehousing and transportation. Oil field employees work a rotation, such as 2 weeks on the job, then 2 weeks off. Workers typically work 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hours each day.
According to Deborah Bernard, there is more than one story behind the name, “Deadhorse.” One version is that it was named after Deadhorse Haulers, a company hired to do the gravel work at the Prudhoe Bay airstrip. (How the company came to be called Deadhorse Haulers is another story.) Everybody began calling the airstrip “Deadhorse,” and the name stuck—too well for those who prefer the name Prudhoe Bay. Some people were surprised when Prudhoe Bay got its own ZIP code on June 3, 1982, and was listed as “Deadhorse, AK 99734,” rather than Prudhoe Bay. It was later changed back to Prudhoe Bay, AK 99734.
Air: Alaska Airlines serves Deadhorse.
Bus: Scheduled van service between Fairbanks and Deadhorse is available from Dalton Highway Express (907-474-3555; www.daltonhighwayexpress.com) and Northern Alaska Tour Co. (907- 474-8600; www.northernalaska.com).
Visitor accommodations and meals (call ahead) are available for Northern Alaska Tour Co. guests at Deadhorse Camp, located south of Deadhorse at Milepost 412.8, phone 907-474-3565 or toll-free 1-877-474-3565, visit online at www.deadhorsecamp.com.
Other facilities that may have rooms for visitors, but cater primarily to oil field workers, are Prudhoe Bay Hotel (907-659-2449), Arctic Oilfield Hotel (907-685-0500), Brooks Camp (907-659-6233), Sag River Camp (907-223-0184) and Aurora Hotel (907-670-0600). Call in advance to inquire about space. Also ask about purchasing meals at their cafeterias. Cafeteria hours are generally: Breakfast 5:30–8 a.m., lunch noon–1 p.m., dinner 5–8 p.m.
Many of the visitor services available in Deadhorse are found at Brooks Range Supply (phone 907-659-2550). They are located in the building with the “Welcome to Deadhorse, Alaska, end of the Dalton Highway” sign (fun photo op), which houses the Napa Store, Prudhoe Bay General Store (open daily 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and the post office (open 1–3 p.m. and 7–9 p.m. daily). Check out the post office bulletin board for local happenings. The “Colville Mini-Mall” carries industrial supplies and sundries. Propane bottle refills may be available. Alcohol, ammunition and weapons are not available in Deadhorse.
There is no bank in Deadhorse, but ATMs are available. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are generally accepted, but Fish and Game licenses and postage must be paid for in cash.
Unleaded gas and diesel are available at Northern Oilfield Services Inc. (NOSI) or the Colville Retail Fuel Station, a 24-hour self-serve station; an attendant is available and cash accepted from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pay prior to pumping. Inside credit card machines are available after hours. Public restrooms are located inside the office by the station. At NOSI, the pumps are kept in barrels, and you can pay at a machine inside. NOSI also has a dump station: $15 fee with fill-up, $25 dump station only.
Tire and vehicle repairs are available; inquire locally. Local auto parts and hardware store has an assortment of supplies. Warranty work for Ford and Dodge is available at Delta Leasing.
Public access beyond Deadhorse is restricted. For security reasons, travel north of Deadhorse, including visits to the Arctic Ocean, is limited to commercial tours. Tour information is available at the hotels or call Northern Alaska Tour Company at 907-474- 8600 or 1-800-474-1986.
There is not a formal overnight RV campground, but visitors can usually find an overnight space. Try the Arctic Oilfield Hotel or Tesoro station. Tent camping is generally discouraged due to bears. Many people camp just outside town on the Dalton Highway at turnouts along the Sagavanirktok River. CAUTION: Beware of bears in the area. The Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse area has been overrun with grizzly bears in summers past. Polar bears have also been known to wander into town. Use caution when camping or walking around. Also be alert for caribou in road: They have the right-of-way.
Take the Arctic Ocean Shuttle from Deadhorse Camp on an oil field tour. The tour takes you by the largest natural gas processing plant in the world and the largest drilling rig tower in the world (named “Liberty”). Take a dip in the Arctic Ocean and become a part of the Polar Bear Club. Certificates are available for those who go into the water. The tour includes towels and blankets.
You must reserve space on this tour 24-hours in advance and carry identification. For tour information and reservations, phone 907-474-3565 or 1-877-474-3565.
Wildlife watching is always an attraction here. It is not unusual to see a number of caribou in Prudhoe Bay. Caribou congregate on the coast after calving in late June and July. Be careful not to drive into restricted areas near Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay entrance.
Bring your binoculars! Bird life is abundant on the North Slope. Birders will enjoy a unique opportunity to see breeding colors on species that are normally only in remote areas, such as the king, common and spectacled eider, pomarine jaeger, parasitic jaeger, Sabine’s gull and many more. Drive around Deadhorse roads slowly and scan ponds and wetlands for wildlife from late May to late June.