Fairbanks - Deadhorse one day each way advice - please

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by pauleknight, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. pauleknight

    pauleknight Need Cool Name Here

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    I have read thru the threads and it seems that some stop in Wiseman / Coldfoot overnight and some make the trip in one day.

    As a background, I am a very experienced Iron Butt rider and have limited time to make Key West to Deadhorse and back this summer (16 days). Last summer I did the 48/10 in under 8 days and did 8K miles in 8 days. Long 14-16 hour days in the saddle do not scare me one bit. I know that some will be critical of me not taking the time to stop and smell the roses, but for me it is about making the most miles while I have the time.

    I also like to have hotels planned in advance so I know where I am staying each night.

    It feels like I will be wasting a 1/2 day if I stop in Wiseman/Coldfoot and would lose 2 days going 250 miles each day instead of the 500 miles from Fairbanks to Deadhorse in one day.

    I am not experience in off road but have taken 3 off road classes at the BMW factory in NC and have done well.

    I have a few friends that are telling me that I need to take 4 days for Fairbanks to Deadhorse and back. Yukon River Camp seems like an option but that place is $220+ a night for what looks like a bed in a trailer. Yukon River camp is 360 miles to Deadhorse. To me the extra 140 miles each day seems like only 2-3 hours more saddle time which I would not mind.

    I should be in Fairbanks the first week in August.

    Option 1, Fairbanks to Deadhorse (500 miles) plausible in one day there and one day back?

    Option 2, Wiseman - Deadhorse - Wiseman plausible in one day? (460 miles)

    Option 3, Yukon River camp Deadhorse 310 miles overnight in Deadhorse next day back to Yukon River Camp.

    I appreciate any advice or other options.

    Thanks
    #1
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  2. soph9

    soph9 Would Love to ride ALL the TIME

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    On my way up I stopped in wiseman. Heading back deadhorse to Fairbanks one day. My body was sore and hit a ton of rain on the way back but doable. If it's all rain things get real slippery and exhausting. I would suggest you play it by ear. Having said that once you pass Coldfoot and Wiseman there's nothing so it would be a commitment unless you tent. Watch for bears. good luck its worth it. Oh and just hope you get to deadhorse after the gravel they pour is compacted. We hit fresh gravel last 50 miles and it was brutal. I hope you see the caribou outside town. No alcohol at all in town. Remember that and wear the booties when you go inside. They hate mud.


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  3. soph9

    soph9 Would Love to ride ALL the TIME

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    Motels in deadhorse $ but you get clean accommodations and all you can eat food


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  4. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

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    It's possible to make the Fairbanks to Deadhorse to Fairbanks in one day, or even up in a day and back in a day; If the weather is good, the rider is in good shape, the road is mostly dry and not snot slick, there's not a lot of traffic,and nothing bad happens.

    But I certainly wouldn't plan my trip around doing that ride in two days. The Dalton is not the road to make time on.
    #4
  5. KOH

    KOH Adventurer

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    Agree with previous comments. Round Trip travel time from Fairbanks - Deadhorse- Fairbanks is dependent upon weather. My experience has been that with decent roads with decent weather, it takes 3 days. That is with no delays for road , rain, maintenance, etc. Road conditions will vary - potholes can be deep and will use every inch of travel. Reaction time is very limited if you are riding hard. Also depends upon the bike, suspension and how you are loaded.
    #5
  6. Drunk_Uncle

    Drunk_Uncle Long timer

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    You need to budget 4 days, ride with your wits about you and if the road is good you may do in two days. Happened to me on the Dempster, planned four days on it, but had perfect conditions and did it in an easy three.
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  7. KHuddy

    KHuddy Survivor

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    Not my cup of tea, but I saw several people do it up and back in one day (30+ hours) when I was the dorm Tsar at UAF. One fella did it on a R1200RT on street tires. John Ryan rode from Deadhorse to Fairbanks in 6 hours 45 min on a FJR running 880 tires, and he had rain part of the way.
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  8. legion

    legion Ancient Chinese Stir Fry Tool

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    If conditions are on your side I don't see why you couldn't get up and back in a day. I've ridden to Deadhorse and back and the legs I took were:

    Anchorage - Coldfoot (600 miles)

    Coldfoot - Deadhorse - Healy (850 miles)

    Healy - Anchorage. (250 miles)

    Truth be told I'd have happily ran Coldfoot to Deadhorse to Anchorage but my bike was running like crap on some bogus fuel I picked up on the Slope so the second stretch was enough of a pig wrestling match that Healy got mighty attractive. I might be inclined to make it an extra long day on the front of that Deadhorse stretch or maybe on the backside as it's not a good idea to expect that the road will be in xlnt condition and the weather will be sweet enough that you'll feel comfy blasting up and back in one whack.
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  9. keith in alaska

    keith in alaska Valley Gruver

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    Seeking advice from riders who have made the trip once is mighty risky. One trip up does not make one an expert. The road is "alive" and changes by the hour. Best to be flexible and self sufficient.
    If you elect to do the ride with a tight timeline, I suggest you purchase a medivac plan. That road and the endless daylight can take its toll. I've seen the carnage!
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  10. pauleknight

    pauleknight Need Cool Name Here

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    Sorry, I might not be clear. I am not trying to go Fairbanks - Deadhorse - Fairbanks in one day. It would be two days. One day there, overnight in Deadhorse and then one day back to Fairbanks .

    1000 mile days on tarmac is a piece of cake. 1000 miles on the haul road seems like suicide.
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  11. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

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    Expecting to do the haul road in two days is also really pushing it, unless the conditions of the road, traffic, construction, and weather are perfect.
    #11
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  12. kman311

    kman311 Adventurer

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    I did it last June in little over 26 hours. Left Fairbanks around 3:00 in the afternoon with the intention of camping in Coldfoot. Arrived in Coldfoot a little before 8:00 pm. After messing around for about an hour I decided to go the rest of the way to Deadhorse. It was raining off and on after Coldfoot but nothing too bad. I was on track to make it into Deadhorse by 12:30 am. Unfortunately around 12:10 am I hit a rut and went down at 50 mph. I was going a little too fast for the soft conditions the last 25 miles. I made it into Deadhorse about 2:30 am. I went at a much slower pace on the return trip. After a couple extended stops on the way back I arrived in Fairbanks around 5:30 pm.
    #12
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  13. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

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    Your original post was clear.....knew what you were asking.

    Yes, you can do it. One day up, and one day back. Yes, all the advice above is good to rear, and good to heed.

    I have done it a total of 5 times, roundtrip, Fairbanks to Deadhorse and back to Fairbanks. And as stated above, the road changes, due to weather, due to construction, due to other rigs on the road, animals, etc.

    Given the bike you are riding, you "should" have no problems. If you are seriously an IBA member, then THINK........get your shit all aligned, and do the ride right.

    I've been a IBA member for 33 years, and a member of the Million Mile Riders club on the IBA website, and having done this ride 5 times up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay, I can tell you it is much different than hammering out 1500 to 2000 miles a day on paved roads.

    You can do it.......just have it all together...then do it.

    Instead of the typical 5 to 8 hours you are used to to ride 500 miles on pavement, plan on 10 to 12 hours on the Haul Rd to make it to Deadhorse.
    #13
  14. FLARider1

    FLARider1 Long timer

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    The answer to your main question is yes, it is relatively painless to do the round trip Fairbanks - Deadhorse- Fairbanks over two days. My first trip up there was entirely in the rain, took about 13-14 hours to cover the 500 miles up to Deadhorse. Was a long day but not a bad day. The weather and the road are your enemies big time and both will most likely affect you.

    The whole round trip in 16 days............thats where I see your issue. For the most part up there, you aint gonna run a 1000 miles a day, even with 12 hours in the saddle. You have to do high miles front end and back end, and unless you are my neighbor you gotta add days to get to KW and home from KW. Even from Orlando you are 7 hours one way to KW.

    I have done the round trip twice. First time I took 34 days, but 3 of those were to go back to work after I tagged KW, and then I planned days off the bike in Fairbanks and several longer side trips. 2016 was 29 days 40 minutes, 2 days off the bike in Fairbanks and 3 days off the bike in Dawson city, and then 1 day with my kids in Illinois. So that put us at 23 days hard on the bikes making miles. We did 700-800 mile days for the first 3 out and last 3 back. We were exhausted. Its roughly right 15,000 miles round trip, and you are talking 16 days which means 1000 miles per day minimum. You will need tires and an oil change, there goes a day. Most likely weather or fatigue will take you out for at least one day. Its gonna take you a day and half to run back and forth to Orlando, so lets be brave and call that 1 day. So now you are down to 13 days to run about 15k miles. 12 hours in the saddle up there will get you about 600-700 miles on a really good, kick your ass, kinda day. I am not doubting your ability to run long days, I know what that takes and did it both trips to AK and my trip this year to TX. But I am being realistic as to what to expect. Miles you cover down in the lower 48 on pavement are much higher than you can crank out up there.

    You timing is not the best in the world either. Getting to Fairbanks in the first week of August gets you into the time of year that weather is already starting to head towards unfriendly for riding. That will play on your ability to cover miles. Rule of thumb up there, June is more wet/cold but less bugs - July is less wet/cold can actually be quite warm but lots more Bugs - August is more wet/cold and bigger chance of wet/cold and less bugs. Most of my research has pointed to me being out of there by the 3rd week of July for the highest probabilty of good weather, and after two trips it was pretty much backed up.

    Not sure its a good idea to push the round trip in 16 days. just my humble opinion. and it has nothing to do with what you will miss by not stopping and smelling the roses along the way.........you will miss a lot but thats a whole other discussion.
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  15. FLARider1

    FLARider1 Long timer

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    For your lodging questions. Look up the Borealis Lodge in Wiseman. Summer rates are about $80 a night and way better accomodations than Coldfoot camp. We camped north of Coldfoot last year, dropped off excess gear at Borealis Lodge, did the round trip to Deadhorse and stayed in Wiseman for the night. Fairbanks to Wiseman is the easy part, mostly paved, the fun starts north of Wiseman. The skill set learned at the BMW class will get you through, but from now until your trip ride every gravel and dirt road you can. You will push your skills on the Dalton, there is no doubt about that. Even if the weather is good there will be construction and it will challenge you to make it through.
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  16. jezza909

    jezza909 Adventurer

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    Amazing to me how many people blow through this area in 1-2 days. The Brooks Range and the North Slope are amazing, and unlike any other place most people ever see. Your brain and eyes can't even adjust to the scale of the place in a day. You will ride right past amazingness and not even see that caribou, or that parky squirrel, or that patch of blueberries. To each their own, I suppose, but dang.
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  17. AKTREADs

    AKTREADs Been here awhile

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    Some....will have to learn the hard way!

    Plan to be hauled into Deadhorse before 5pm ,so you can catch the flight to Anchorage at 530pm.
    or
    Have a credit card w/ $20 G's available to be flown to Fbks by Jet/Long Ranger helicopter.
    #17
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  18. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

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    You have a very good point, and this is how I see my future road trips....however....the OP stated he needs to blast up there for the simple point of hitting Deadhorse. He also stated he is an IronButt rider, and for those of us that have been in his shoes for the past 20 to 30 years, we get where he is coming from.

    My future rides up to Coldfoot and Deadhorse will be at a much more calm pace. But I understood what the OP was in search of. For many riders that are short on time, their goal is to check Deadhorse off their bucket list. In time, when they have MORE time, they can come back and smell the moose skat on the sides of the Haul Rd., and enjoy the wonders of the northern tundra.
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  19. FLARider1

    FLARider1 Long timer

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    yep..........I felt ashamed only taking 3 days for the Dalton both times I've been up it. I think I spent more time last trip just enjoying than i did the first, but the weather was a lot better. But when you only get 4 weeks vacation, you gotta do what you gotta do. My 2016 trip was a lot more time in one place exploring, and at a couple different places, than my 2011 ride. It was a lot of fun hangin out Dawson City for three days..........the locals are a lot of fun!!!
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  20. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

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    Yep, I had more fun IN Dawson City and that immediate area, than anywhere else on my rides up there. Love the view from Midnight Dome.
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