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Brooks Range overview
The brooks range stretches 700 miles from west to east across northern Alaska into Canada. While mostly uninhabited and not accessible by road, the range is transected by the Dalton Highway and Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, both of which pass through Alaska’s highest roadway pass, Atigun Pass and on to the North Slope and Prudhoe Bay. The Dalton Highway was built to service the construction and maintenance of the pipeline.
Brooks Range Mountain subdivisions
The Brooks range is subdivided into many smaller sections of mountains, with different names. The Philip Smith mountains, the Endicott mountains, theRomanzof mountains to the north and east, the Davidson mountains, and the Baird mountains to the west, just to name a few. They all are however, part of the larger Brooks range which creates the northernmost continental divide of the United States.
The immense expanse of the Brooks range contains an amazing array of mountain peaks, most of which require access via airplane or river to witness. However, within view of the road, there are many dramatic mountain scenes.Mount Sukakpak is know for its distinctive shape and changing appearance since it can be viewed from the three different angles due to the winding road.
Mount Snowden, located south of Atigun pass has a distinctive spire that creates a striking vertical face, often accented by dramatic lighting. Mount Snowden, according to Bob Marshall in his book “Arctic Village” says that the mountain was named after Harry Snowden, the english name given to an Inupiat man who lived in Wiseman, Alaska.
Only a hand full of very small communities are located in the Brooks Range. These include the native villages of Arctic Village and Anaktuvuk Pass. In addition, the historic communities of Coldfoot, Wiseman, Bettles, and Chandalar Lake are scattered throughout the area.
Despite the rugged terrain and far north latitude, some wildlife flourish in and near the Brooks Range Mountains. Dall sheep seem at home on the rocky slopes. Grizzly bear, moose, red fox, lynx, snowshoe hare and the migrating herds of barren ground caribou all inhabit the mountainous region.
The Trans-Alaska oil pipeline originates in Prudhoe Bay and terminates in Valdez. To complete this 800 mile journey, the Pipeline crosses the Brooks Range Mountains through Atigun Pass. For further information please visit Trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
Haul Road / Dalton Highway
The James Dalton Highway, commonly referred to as the Haul Road, provides access to Prudhoe Bay from the Elliot Highway near Fairbanks. This highway of mixed gravel and pavement road surfaces is a trucker’s domain and the only road supply route to oil fields of the north slope. Conditions are generally good, but weather events of heavy snow and rain can severely limit, and sometimes prevent access. It is maintained by the State of Alaska, with numerous road maintenance camps along the route.