Atigun Pass

Driving Alaska's Atigun Pass

Atigun Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.444m (4,739ft) above the sea level, located in Alaska, in USA, across the Brooks Range, at the head of the Dietrich River. It's known as the highest year-round pass in the state and its 11 to 12 percent grades are sure to challenge even the most experienced drivers. The pass is traversed by the infamous Dalton Highway.

The pass is located at mile marker 244 of Dalton Highway, where the highway crosses the Continental Divide. This is a very significant point of your journey.  The pass was shown on the third and fourth seasons of the History Channel reality series Ice Road Truckers. Atigun Pass connects the oil-producing areas of the North Slope with interior Alaska and the south. Atigun is the only pass in the Brooks Range that is crossed by a road. The pass has been responsible for taking many drivers off the road and is also home to avalanches during the winter. Anyone who loves road trips should have this on their list.

This is the highest pass in Alaska that is maintained throughout the year and with a high clearance 2WD vehicle is able to travel safely at low speeds on long dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. Atigun is known among bush pilots for the difficulty of crossing the pass with small planes; Anaktuvuk Pass is favored as the safer flying route. As you'd expect from an area in the Arctic Circle, weather has a huge impact on this pass. With winter temperatures ranging from 0 to -40, regular storms, and the occasional avalanche, the harsh elements of the region make it challenging and extremely dangerous. 

It’s a very remote location. The weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable and it does not take much time for the bright sun shine to change over to moderate to heavy snow fall. South of the pass, permafrost areas become thinner and less prevalent. Watch for Dall sheep on the mountain sides around Atigun Pass. As you travel over the pass, you are going over the Continental Divide. Rivers to the north empty into the Arctic Ocean, while rivers to the south empty into the Bering Sea. North of the Atigun Pass, permafrost grows deeper (over 2,000 feet in the Prudhoe Bay area) and is present almost everywhere.


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