How to Drive the Alaska Highway
Over 1,442 miles of rugged scenery line the historic Alaska Highway. From Dawson, British Colombia to Delta Junction Alaska, the highway, also known as the Alcan highway weaves in and out of snow capped mountains, extensive forests, thundering rivers, and flower strewn meadows. Driving through this beautiful territory is the ultimate road trip, and an incredible way to be introduced to the wilds of Alaska.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need:
- Well maintained vehicle
- Well maintained vehicle
- Spare tire
- Spare coolant
- Spare oil
- Cell phone
Decide when to leave. May through September are the best months to go in terms of weather and road conditions.
Choose between a one way or a round trip. Trips typically start anywhere between Seattle
and Dawson (the historic beginning of the highway). While many choose round trips on the highway, some visitors choose to return on one of the frequent ferries that serve Alaska.
Acquire and prepare a vehicle. While most styles of vehicle will do, assuming good road conditions, choosing a vehicle that is economical, dependable, and has four wheel drive is a good idea. Many people choose to take their own RV, allowing them to use their vehicle for sleeping accommodations.
Plan important stops. With so many beautiful features and side trips on the Alaskan Highway, visitors may want to choose and research the stops they know they want to visit. This is also a good time to figure out how the road trip will last. Trips typically take seven days or longer, they can be as short as three or four days.
Pack emergency supplies and trip materials. The vehicle should have a spare tire, extra coolant and oil. Also pack a map and any helpful navigation materials. Check for last minute road conditions, to see if construction will delay the trip.
Enjoying the Trip
Take time to visit any important sites or events that seem interesting. To truly enjoy the highway, travelers should not rush their experience.
Make use of the roadside diners and hotels. Many of these quaint establishments offer excellent lodging and dining options.
Explore interesting areas that are not listed in guidebooks or on maps. The Alaska Highway is surrounded by beauty and some of the most memorable destinations of a trip can be those discovered by accident.
Best of the Alaska Highway
The best restaurants include Rika's Roadhouse just outside of Delta Junction at the end of the highway, Dawson Peaks Resort and Restaurant seven miles south of Teslin and Fast Eddy's in Tok, Alaska.
The best National Parks include Kluane National Park Reserve, Wrangell-St.Elias Park & Wildernes, Tetlin National Wildlife Reserve and Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park.
The best accommodations on the Alcan include Cottonwood RV Park, Northern Rockies Lodge, Nugget City and the Shepherd's Inn.
Tips & Warnings
Keep a written log of important places and sites you would like to visit. Be sure to leave plenty of time for side trips and plan for extra days in case a particular spot requires extra time. Many visitors choose to camp at one of the beautiful parks, or even on the side of the road. Carrying a tent and sleeping bag is a good idea, even if travelers don't plan on camping it is a good back up in case hotels are full, or a vehicle breaks down. Roadside assistance and cell phone plans are also good to have, as towing can be quite expensive in remote parts of the highway.
Though the highway has gotten much safer in recent years, it can still be a dangerous journey. Unexpected weather conditions, car problems and poor navigation can leave travelers in unfavorable positions. By being prepared, many of the dangers of the highway can be avoided.
Article Written By Patrick Hutchison
Patrick Hutchison has been doing freelance work since 2008. He has worked as a physical therapy aide and as a writer for various websites including Destination Guides and several travel-related companies. Hutchison has a Bachelor of Arts in history and anthropology from the University of Washington.
The Latest from the Trails.com Community
Still no snow. Drier than Clackamas River Trail #715 right now.
This is a agreeable & interesting State Park & hike. The ocean has flooded a clef along the San Andreas Fault to...
I was a little confused where to park but once we found the trail next to the covered bridge, it was so beautiful...