Like the Dalton Highway, Deadhorse exists to support oil operations in Prudhoe Bay. While the official population is 25, the town boasts a non-permanent population of 2,000-3,000 employees of the various oil operations. Like Coldfoot and the camp at Mile 60, the facilities for visitors are the same as those built to house construction workers for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. All facilities are simple, prefabricated buildings which were brought to Deadhorse on barge or via the Dalton. Commodities, having to be shipped great distances, are expensive.
No direct access to the Arctic Ocean, which is 10 miles (16 km) away, exists from Deadhorse. Special advanced access/tours via oil field personnel permission requiring photo ID and right of refusal may visit Prudhoe Bay. Not all tours reach the Bay.
The town is located at the northern terminus, Mile 414, of the Dalton Highway which provides a land link year-round to Fairbanks.
There is also a modest airport which functions year-round. The airport is served by commercial flights (ie. Boeing 737 aircraft, special: half cargo, half passengers) from Alaska Airlines, normally to Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Barrow. There are also several charter services which can provide flights to/from this airport, some offering tours which drive up the Dalton, then fly back (or visa versa).
The town is rather small and during the summer months walking is very feasible although there are no sidewalks and large oil field equipment and trucks demand constant vigilance. During the winter, extreme temperatures make walking, even short distances, very uncomfortable and exposure to such temperatures can be lethal. While not very large, driving is the best option most of the year.
The Dalton Highway ends just a few miles inland of the Arctic Ocean and only private, restricted roads extend to the ocean. Fortunately, tours can be booked through the hotels in the town which not only take you to the ocean and its gravel beach (where you can take a frigid dip, joining the "Polar Bear Club") but also include a tour of the oilfield and operations. The ocean is ice-free from late July to October.
The town contains a small, and pricey, general store as well as two fuel stations. The post office is located as part of the store.
There are a couple of restaurants in town as part of the hotels such as the Caribou Inn.
Alcohol is not available in the general store. In a harsh environment like this, exposure to the elements is a grave danger which can easily occur while intoxicated.
Note: the North Slope Borough is considered dry and damp in places. A sign at the airport notes this. Oil field operations areas also forbid alcohol.
There are a couple of modest hotels in town (assembled trailers).
This area has a polar climate. The coldest recorded wind chill here was -102°F (-74°C)! During the winter, exposure to the elements can prove lethal.
Like nearly all wild areas in Alaska, grizzly bears are a concern. Don't leave any food lying around including waste food containers, and keep an eye out for bears when walking around. Polar bears are present in the costal areas predominantly during August and September but can be found at any time during the year. Polar bears are both extremely dangerous and protected, do not approach or harass the bears and get to building or vehicle. Whenever exiting a building, immediately scan your surroundings for polar bears.
Remember when leaving that there are no services for 240 miles (386 km) until you reach Coldfoot! Aside from that, Alaska Airlines provides service to Barrow and several charter air services can provide access to numerous small towns along the Arctic coast and North Slope. Head to the general store at the airport for more information.