|Last summer marked the culmination of a multi-year project by three federal agencies to replace the Coldfoot Interagency Visitor Center with a larger, more modern facility. The new Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, a 6,500-square-foot building, is designed to handle the increasing number of tourists traveling Alaska’s Dalton Highway, the only road connecting Alaska’s interior with the Arctic coast. When completed, the center will have exhibits and programs to engage visitors in discovering the special features of the Arctic landscape, its history and resources.
Other interesting things that visitors can engage themselves include a nice walk to the closest nature trails or enroll in a program that teaches you a lot about the unique landscapes and the interesting history behind the Far Northern regions. These programs are however conducted only in the evenings and are guaranteed to be as interesting as trading on the Bitcoin Loophole software.
Work was recently completed on the building, located near the midpoint of the Dalton Highway in the village of Coldfoot, 260 miles north of Fairbanks. BLM and its cooperating agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, opened the facility on July 18.
Although the permanent exhibits weren’t installed until the fall, the staff at the old visitor center moved their operation into the new space, where they offered a fully functional information counter, trip-planning area, temporary exhibits, and bookstore, as well as nightly programs in the auditorium.
Lenore Heppler, project manager for the design and construction of the new Visitor Center, had firsthand experience with the previous facility’s cramped quarters. She is excited about the expanded capabilities the new center will bring.
“The old center just wasn’t big enough, and we sometimes had to turn people away.” Heppler says. “Now we’ll have a new facility that can handle the big crowds when tour buses and other large groups come through. We’ll also have modern plumbing, which I’m sure our visitors will appreciate!”
One of the project’s challenges was designing a building that could ‘go cold.’ In other words, the building will remain completely unheated during Coldfoot’s long winters. This design will save the visitor center’s funding agencies the considerable expense of heating, staffing, and maintaining the remote facility during the winter months, when very few visitors pass through Coldfoot.
But it also meant designing a building interior that could survive some of the coldest temperatures in North America. The United States’ lowest temperature on record, -80 degrees Fahrenheit, was measured in 1971 at Prospect Creek, 40 miles south of Coldfoot.
“You have to assume that everything is going to move, to expand and contract with the temperature changes,” says Rodd Moretz, BLM’s design engineer for the project. “The foundation, the utilities, the plumbing – it’s all designed with that in mind.”
|The Dalton Highway stretches across northern Alaska from Livengood (84 miles north of Fairbanks) to Deadhorse and the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay. This narrow, gravel highway travels through rolling, forested hills, across the Yukon River and Arctic Circle, over the rugged Brooks Range, and down the long slope to the Arctic Ocean. Along most of its length, youll see no restaurants, no gift shops, no service stations. Instead, youll see forest and tundra, from horizon to horizon, and a double ribbon of road and pipe. Step off the road, climb over a hill, and you are in wilderness.Coldfoot is located about halfway between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay at mile 175 on the Dalton Highway (approximately 260 miles north of Fairbanks). Staff at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, formerly the Coldfoot Interagency Visitor Center, are available throughout the summer to answer questions, provide information on current road conditions and wildlife sightings, and help visitors prepare and participate safely in a variety of recreational activities on surrounding public lands. Visitors may also learn more about the Arctic and what lies beyond the highway by attending interpretive slide programs featured each evening, or by viewing exhibits on topics ranging from the Coldfoot goldrush days of the early 1900s to the amazing adaptations of Arctic plants and animals. There’s a variety of free brochures with detailed information on recreation, history, and nearby lands. The non-profit Alaska Natural History Association operates a small bookstore in the visitor center.
The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center is open from Memorial Day (late May) to Labor Day (early September) from 10 am 10 pm, seven days/week. Staff are available year round during normal business hours to answer questions at the following locations:
|BLM Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Dalton BLM Unit
Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge