Driving the Alaska Highway - An Overview
This is a quick guide for people planning to drive the Alaska Highway.
The Alaska Highway stretches 1500 miles from Dawson Creek in Northern BC to Fairbanks in interior Alaska. The highway is paved but is under constant construction and maintenance. Check road conditions along the way online or at any visitors information center. Be prepared for delays.
Have your vehicle thoroughly inspected before you leave. If you have a mechanical problem in a remote community it may be costly and you may have to wait days for parts to arrive.
Pack clothes for a variety of weather conditions. In the summer it may be very warm as you drive the highway. It may also dip down to the freezing mark.
Keep your camera close by. You may see moose, elk, bison or bears along the route.
There are plenty of private and government campgrounds along the route or if you or driving an RV you may choose to pull over and spend the night beside a quiet lake.
Pick up a copy of the ">Milepost. It is unquestionably the best guide to driving the Alaska Highway. It's been printed and updated every year since 1949 and is packed with valuable information that covers mile by mile of your trip. The Milepost is available in most stores and gas stations along the Alaska Highway or you can order it online and enjoy browsing through it before you leave.
Driving the Alaska Highway- The Start
Dawson Creek is the official start of the Alaska Highway. It's also known as mile 0.
The population is roughly 12,000 which makes it one of the larger communities along the route. If you are from a major urban center, the population may seem small, but it's big city living compared to many of the communities on the highway.
Gas up and stock up on food here or in Ft. St. John. The next major center is Fort Nelson, almost 300 miles up the road. Prices are significantly higher in the smaller communities, but often that's where the best adventures and northern experiences lay.
As we travel up the road I'll point out some little known Alaska Highway experiences you wont want to miss and end with some more tips on how to make this the adventure of a lifetime.
Watch for moose on the road as you travel to Fort Nelson.
In Fort Nelson, stock up and rest up. One of the biggest Alaska Highway attractions is in the next segment of the road between Fort Nelson, BC and Watson Lake, Yukon.
Mile 500 Liard Hot Springs
Driving The Alaska Highway - Liard Hot Springs
This is an absolute must for a few hours or overnight stay. The natural hot springs are connected to the campground and day use area by a wooden boardwalk.
Relax, soak and play.
The Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park offers campsites, water, firewood, change huts, toilets and a playground.
Following deaths from a bear attack in the area you'll see plenty of "Bear Aware" signs.
Don't travel alone.
Keep food and garbage securely stored.
Study ahead on tips for"> safety in bear country.
Driving the Alaska Highway - Whitehorse
Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon. With a population of just under 30,000 it is the last major center before Fairbanks, roughly 600 miles away.
The community has big box stores like Walmart and quaint local shops. It is rich in opportunities for outdoor activities and has a dynamic arts scene.
Plan to spend at least one day here. There's lots to see and do.
From Whitehorse you can leave the Alaska Highway and take side trip south to Skagway, Alaska (a two hour drive) or north to Dawson City, Yukon (a five hour drive)
The tiny community of Haines Junction is 100 miles west of Whitehorse. From there you can take a side trip to Haines, Alaska (2.5 hours)
If you have time in your schedule don't miss the opportunity to visit Haines. It offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the state.
Driving the Alaska Highway - Sheep Mountain
Just north of Haines Junction you'll reach Sheep Mountain. Drop by the interpretive center for information on dall sheep. Get out your binoculars for a good look at these beautiful animals as they graze along the mountainside.
From Sheep Mountain you will follow the shore of Kluane Lake through Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay. Then it's on to Beaver Creek and the Canada/U.S. border. (mile 1190)
Driving the Alaska Highway - Delta Junction
From Delta Junction you can travel south on the Richardson Highway to Valdez or north to Fairbanks. If you are traveling to Fairbanks don't forget to drop by Santa's Village at North Pole.
From Fairbanks you can travel south on the Parks Highway through Denali Park and on to Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.
Driving the Alaska Highway - Final Tips
Be self sufficient along the highway. There are long distances between services and many places are not open 24 hours a day.
You will be traveling through the traditional territories of a number of First Nations. Many have museums or interpretive centers that showcase their tradition knowledge and history.
There are long stretches of the highway without cell phone service.
Give yourself plenty of time. There is so much to see and do.
If you are traveling in the summer expect 20 hours or more of daylight.
Enjoy the trip of a lifetime.