Steese Highway

Connects: Fairbanks to Circle, AK
Routes#: Alaska 2 & 6
Length: 161 miles
Road Surface: 50% paved, 50% gravel
Season: Open all year
Highest Pass: Eagle Summit, 3,685 feet
Map (1 detailed pdf file available):
Fairbanks, AK to Circle, AK

The Steese Highway, a designated Scenic Byway, connects Fairbanks with Circle, a small settlement on the Yukon River, 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The Steese Highway was completed in 1927 and named for Gen. James G. Steese, U.S. Army, former president of the Alaska Road Commission.

View from Eagle Summit Wayside on the Steese Highway. (Sharon Nault photo)

The first 81-miles of the Steese Highway good paved road. From pavement end it is wide gravel road into Central, where there is a short stretch of paved road. From Central to Circle, the highway is a narrow, winding gravel road the final 33 miles to Circle on the Yukon River.

This drive is especially colorful in late August and early September when the leaves turn. Acres of fireweed offer bright splashes of color in the summer and fall. Attractions along the Steese Highway include gold mine camps and mining artifacts, and Chatanika River and Chena River state recreation areas.

The MILEPOST® Quick Reference Log
Miles from Fairbanks (F) shown.

F 0 FAIRBANKS.
F 4.6 Junction with Chena Hot Springs Road which leads east to Chena Hot Springs Resort (56.6 miles). Exit west for North Star Gold Club.

F 8.4 Trans–Alaska Pipeline Viewpoint to east has interpretive displays (pictured at right). 
Gold Daughters to west offers gold panning and tour of Alaska’s largest mining relic museum.
F 9.5 Gold Dredge 8 National Historic Site; gold panning, narrated train ride, close-up views of mining dredge..
F 11 Junction with Elliott Highway at FOX (pop. 439); groceries, 24-hour gas/diesel. Access to the Turtle Club restaurant phone 907-457-3883 or email, well-loved by locals for its prime rib.
F 16.6 Felix Pedro Monument and Wayside; gold panning.
F 20.5 Cleary Summit, elev. 2233 feet.
F 28 Turnoff for Chatanika Gold Camp, on the National Register of Historic Places; current status unknown.
F 28.6 Chatanika Lodge 907-389-2164; restaurant, saloon and lodging (closed Tuesdays). A fun stop with a colorful collection of Alaskana.
F 39 Upper Chatanika River State Recreation Site; camping.
F 57.3 Davidson Ditch historical site. This historic pipeline (pictured at left) carried water used to float gold dredges. It was built in 1925.
F 57.4 Junction with U.S Creek Road to Nome Creek Valley; camping, gold panning.
F 60 Cripple Creek BLM Campground.
F 81.3 Gravel begins, pavement ends.
F 85.5 Twelvemile Summit, elev. 3,190 feet.
F 107.1 Eagle Summit Wayside.
F 107.3 Eagle Summit, elev. 3,685 feet.
F 127.7 Junction with Circle Hot Springs Road at CENTRAL (pop. 86); gas, food, lodging at Central Corner. Circle District Historical Society Museum (pictured at right) has interesting exhibits of pioneer living and gold mining.
F 140.4 Lower Birch Creek Wayside (BLM); camping and fishing.
F 161.2 H.C. Company Store, 907-773-1222; food, groceries, gas, diesel.
F 161.3 CIRCLE (pop. 120), located on one channel of the mighty Yukon River (seen below); supplies at H.C. Company Store.