Elliott Highway (Fox to Manley)

Open year-round, the Elliott Highway is paved until it meets the Dalton Highway at mile 73. But don’t let a little change in the road stop you from taking this amazing drive! Pass through the White Mountains where, depending on the season, you can hike, ski, snow machine, and skijor. Grab some coffee at the Arctic Circle Trading Post in the small town of Joy (pop. 30). Get the first good views of the Alaska Pipeline. Watch the land around you change as you drive from alpine to forested terrain. Then, relax from your exciting drive at a natural hot spring in Manley.

Not all rental vehicles are allowed on this road, so check with your rental agency before you travel. Or, rent from a company that allows their vehicle on gravel roads, like Alaska 4x4 Rentals or Alaska Overlander.

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Highway Guide

Orig­i­nal­ly the Fox Road­house, this old-style build­ing has been ren­o­vat­ed to house a brew­ery and brew pub. Ten miles from Fair­banks, the brew­ery has at least a dozen house-made beers on tap, and a huge selec­tion of bot­tled brews, many of which can’t be found any­where else in town. There’s a large, open beer gar­den out back, ide­al for sum­mer nights. And the food’s great. 

The White Moun­tain Nation­al Recre­ation Area has over 200 miles of win­ter trails that are shared by dog mush­ers, ski­iers, ski­jor­ers, and snow machin­ers and sev­er­al cab­ins have been built along the White Moun­tain win­ter trails to pro­vide vis­i­tors with safe­ty and com­fort dur­ing their adventures.

Stop and fill up your water bot­tles at this fresh spring water tap.

Difficulty: Moderate

This is a mod­er­ate­ly dif­fi­cult 5 mile long trail that begins and ends at the Wick­er­sham Dome Trail­head at Mile 28 Elliot High­way. This trail offers beau­ti­ful views of the Alas­ka Range and Denali (Mt. McKinley).

Difficulty: Moderate

Sum­mit Trail fol­lows a ridge all the way from Elliot High­way to Beaver Creek. There is a shel­ter cab­in 8 miles from the trail head that is avail­able to hik­ers on a first-come, first-served basis.

There isn’t a much left of this old min­ing town, but at one time, it was home to 250 – 300 min­ers. The town, named for prospec­tor Nels Olnes, boast­ed gen­er­al stores, lodges, hotels and mail and tele­phone ser­vice. It was even a stop on the Tanana Val­ley Railroad.

Here you’ll find oppor­tu­ni­ties for swim­ming, fish­ing, boat­ing and camp­ing. Camp­sites are set among the trees and in open grassy areas. Explore fur­ther afield to find blue­ber­ry and cran­ber­ry bush­es along the path around the pond. 

Take a break here and look for the sign about the exper­i­men­tal trench­ing site in this area. This exper­i­ment is part of a project study­ing the fea­si­bil­i­ty to con­struct a nat­ur­al gas pipeline to trans­port nat­ur­al gas from Alaska’s North Slope to mar­ket. This site will be mon­i­tored for 10 years to eval­u­ate the amount of fill sub­stance and to study the suc­cess of sev­er­al meth­ods of re-vegetation.

Difficulty: Moderate

The White Moun­tains Nation­al Recre­ation Area is home to 200+-miles of trail tra­vers­ing a mil­lion acres of wilder­ness and a moun­tain range named for the dom­i­nant col­or of its lime­stone foun­da­tion. To get there, dri­ve 28 miles on the Elliott High­way from Fox (where it splits with the Steese) and look for signs mark­ing the trail­head. The trail­head is the start­ing point for both the Sum­mit Trail, and the Ski Loop Trail, a 5‑mile loop and a nice  ...more

This is your first good view of the Trans-Alas­ka Pipeline as it emerges from the hill­side. The pipeline car­ries crude oil from Prud­hoe Bay on the Arc­tic Ocean, 800-miles to its ter­mi­nus at Valdez.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 1 mile

Look for the large rock out­crop­pings. These are very pop­u­lar with tech­ni­cal rock climbers. A clos­er look at the Grape­fruit Rocks is just a short hike away. 

Joy (Pop. 30). This rur­al com­mu­ni­ty is named for Joy Grif­fin, who home­stead­ed this area with her hus­band. Joy wrote Home Sweet Home­stead about her expe­ri­ences here.

The orig­i­nal cab­in was built in 1935 by Swedish trap­per and prospec­tor Fred Blixt but burned down in 1991. The cab­in was replaced in 1992 and is now wheelchair-accessible.

Liven­good (pop. 23) Nathaniel R. Hud­son and Jay Liven­good dis­cov­ered gold on Liven­good Creek in 1914. By 1915 there was a min­ing camp and post office. From 1915 — 1920, the claim yield­ed about $9.5 mil­lion in gold. A large-scale min­ing attempt in the late 1930s — 1940s failed and the post office was dis­con­tin­ued in 1957. There is active drilling in the area so do not tres­pass on min­ing claims.

The 414-mile-long Dal­ton High­way is Alaska’s only road to the Arc­tic. This high­way was built to sup­port the Prud­hoe Bay Oil­fields and is still used today by both com­mer­cial and recre­ation­al traf­fic. Make sure you are on the right high­way, the Elliot make a sharp turn left here.

Here you’ll find infor­mal camp­sites and a boat launch. You may notice an abun­dance of drag­on­flies in this area; their main source of food is mos­qui­toes. The Four-Spot Skim­mer Drag­on­fly was adopt­ed as the Alas­ka state insect in 1995

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 11 miles

There is no road access, but this 11-mile mod­er­ate to stren­u­ous hike is well worth the trip. The trail has spec­tac­u­lar views as it cross­es over Tolo­vana Hot Springs Dome. The hot springs has two hot tubs, 3 cab­ins as well as outhouses. 

In arc­tic and sub-arc­tic regions, the sub­soil con­sists of per­mafrost, which is per­ma­nent­ly frozen soil. Only veg­e­ta­tion with a very shal­low root sys­tem can grow in per­mafrost. Now you will start to see spruce trees again as you make the tran­si­tion from alpine to forest­ed terrain.

The Athabas­can Vil­lage of Minto (pop. 190) is 11 miles from here. Many of the vil­lage’s res­i­dent still live a tra­di­tion­al sub­sis­tence lifestyle by hunt­ing out on the Minto Flats. 

A large pull­out pro­vides a panoram­ic view of the coun­try­side, as well as a nice infor­mal campsite.

For­est fires are endem­ic to this region, usu­al­ly occur­ring once every 100 to 200 years in any one place. New growth quick­ly takes root and pro­vides habi­tat and browse for many dif­fer­ent birds and ani­mals that might find it more dif­fi­cult to sur­vive in mature forests.

The hot springs pro­vides heat to a pri­vate green­house, sup­port­ing trop­i­cal plants and lush green­ery. Three con­crete tubs offer a chance to soak in the sooth­ing min­er­al water. To make arrange­ments for a vis­it, con­tact the Hot Springs Bath­house where for $5 you can soak amid the splen­dor of grapes, Asian pears and flowers

This is one of Alaska’s old­est orig­i­nal road­hous­es from the gold rush era. Stop in for a slice of home­made pie or a giant cin­na­mon roll and min­gle with the local min­ers, dog mush­ers, trap­pers and fishermen.