The town's name supposedly comes from a group of gold seekers who, in 1900, trekked up the Koyukuk River and got "cold feet"-returning south from Slate Creek, the original name of this settlement, rather than spending the winter here. The town was larger then, consisting of a gambling hall, 7 saloons, and two roadhouses. It was abandoned in 1912 in favor of Wiseman. In 1970, a camp was built here to host construction workers for the Trans-Alaska pipeline.
This settlement is really the only true truck stop along the highway, and "the world's northernmost truck stop". It is extremely important for persons continuing north on the Dalton Highway, as there are no services until Deadhorse...240 miles away.
The only ways of getting into Coldfoot are via the Dalton Highway for all land traffic and there is an airstrip for turboprop aircraft. Many small airlines provide service, usually as part of a tour.
The town is extremely small...no more than a half mile north-south, and 1-1.5mi east-west. You can get around on foot or by car. In winter months, snow shoes may be necessary.
Three government agencies (Bureau of Land Services, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service) run a joint "visitor's center" in Coldfoot offering information on recreation & visitor services along the Dalton. This center is open daily from 11am-10pm during the summer, and offers nightly slide presentations. For info, call: (907) 678-5209.
There is nothing to do in the town of Coldfoot except sleep, eat, and camp. There are numerous opportunities available relatively close to Coldfoot along the Dalton Highway. The Inn can offer information regarding tours and adventures to nearby destinations. See: Dalton Highway for more information.
There is little to buy in Coldfoot, aside from services. The inn has a small, pricey gift shop selling mostly typical tourist gifts (tshirts, postcards, keychains, & mugs) open 5am-midnight. They also provide laundry machines & showers for guests not staying at the inn, both available 10am-10pm for a fee.
There is also a tire shop which also provides towing services along the highway and can perform minor car repairs. Be warned that towing charges are around $5/mile and if a tire or part needs to be ordered from Fairbanks, it will take a while and be expensive!
There is a small restaurant in the town, which has the atmosphere of a truck-stop kitchen found in the Lower 48. The kitchen is open 5am-midnight. During the summer months, there is a buffet breakfast and dinner. During the winter months, there is a menu with entrees ranging from $6-13, sides, soups, pies, ice cream, and drinks ($2-coffee w/free refills). When the kitchen is closed, a few deli items are available. You can get boxed meals to go, even order them the night before for pick-up in the morning.
Beer and wine are available at the bar attached to the restaurant. This is the country's northernmost saloon, since commercial settlements to the North are dry. Remember that driving while intoxicated is illegal.
After Coldfoot, there are 240 miles (386km) WITHOUT SERVICES such as gas or food...the longest such stretch in the United States!! Leave prepared! Though, if you're heading south, there ARE some services along the way to Fairbanks. You have the Arctic Circle rest stop, not far from Coldfoot, the Yukon River camp, as well as (going down the ELIOTT highway to Fairbanks) Livengood, and Fox.