In June of 2011, before my big road trip to Alaska, I posted a blog entry titled “Alaska Road Trip Itinerary
“. A lot of entries like that one and “Merger
” were more about me getting my thoughts straight and planning the adventure than about helping people who are embarking on a Road Trip to Alaska themselves.
I’ve noticed over the past year that many people stumble upon that page from Google, so I thought I could update it (or in this case replace it), with a more cohesive and useful version for aspiring road trippers to Alaska. First I’ll go over some useful things to pack, then over the route taken coming from the East Coast, as well as things to check out.
THINGS TO PACK
- Engine Oil
- Transmission Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Extra Fuses
- Full Size Spare Tire
- Jack to Change Tire
- Emergency Windshield Repair Kit
- First Aid Kit
- Clothing to match climate
- Any other equipment used on excursions, such as hiking shoes, ponchos, etc.
- The Milepost (The “must have” travel guide to Alaska and the highways heading north.)
ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 1 : EAST COAST TO CANADA
When coming from the East Coast, here are three options into Canada:
FROM THE NORTHEAST: Niagara Falls -> Toronto -> Sault Ste. Marie -> Winnipeg -> Saskatoon
FROM MID-COAST: Amish Country -> Chicago -> Twin Cities (Mall of America) -> Rugby (Geographic Center of North America) -> International Peace Garden N.D. -> Saskatoon
FROM THE SOUTHEAST: Great Smokey Mountains -> Chicago -> Twin Cities (Mall of America) -> Rugby (Geographic Center of North America) -> International Peace Garden N.D. -> Saskatoon
From Saskatoon continue on to Edmonton, a city with the West Edmonton Mall (The largest in North America) and plenty of other attractions.
*Keep in mind that Canada’s Highway system does not have nearly as many gas stations, and very few operating 24 hours a day along this route.
ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 2 : LOWER CANADA TO THE YUKON
FROM EDMONTON: Travel to Dawson Creek, which is the beginning of the Alaska Highway. There is a Marker for “Mile 0″ here and some decent restaurants. You will then drive through the beautiful Northern Rockies of British Columbia. We stopped at Liard Hot Springs along the way, which was a nice break.
After crossing the border into the Yukon, stop at the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake. From here continue on the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse.
*If you are planning a one-way trip, dip down to Jasper and Banff National Parks after Edmonton. For purposes of this itinerary, I will explain more about them on the way back.
ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 3 : THE YUKON INTO ALASKA
MOST DIRECT ROUTE: From Whitehorse the most direct route is via the Alaska Highway to Tok in Alaska, then to Anchorage or Fairbanks. I did not take this route.
NORTHERN ROUTE: A more scenic option is the Northern Route. From Whitehorse travel on the Klondike Highway to Dawson City. Should you have time, stop at Tombstone Territorial Park (I didn’t, but I hear it’s beautiful). Dawson City is a great little town, with shops and restaurants to give you a break from driving. We spent the night there.
You then cross a small river via a ferry, and start your journey on the Top of the World Highway. It’s roughly four hours to Poker Creek Alaska, where two men live as Border Patrol Agents during the summer months. Then it’s another hour (roughly) on a horribly unpaved road to Chicken, Alaska. From here you travel to Tok, and then Fairbanks or Anchorage.
ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 4 : ALASKA TO SOUTHERN CANADA
WATER ROUTE: On our trip we left Tok and went to the North Pole and then Fairbanks. Afterwards we dipped down to Denali National Park for a flight seeing tour, and passed by Anchorage (regrettably). We then travelled back to Tok, and then Haines. We took the Alaska Marine Highway (a ferry) to Juneau, Ketchikan, and several other towns finally landing in Prince Rupert. From here we drove to Prince George.
LAND ROUTE: Another option would be to drive from Tok to Whitehorse, and then take 37 down to Prince George. Along the way you could dip west towards the coast and travel along the Stuart Cassiar Highway. If I took this, I would have taken a side trip on the Glacier Highway to Stewart.
* If you chose the Water Route, keep in mind from Tok to Haines you will be traveling from Alaska to Canada, then back to Alaska. The Border Patrol station to get back into Alaska is not open 24/7.
ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 5 : CANADA INTO THE U.S.
WESTERN ROUTE: From Prince George you can travel south to Vancouver and Seattle and enjoy the west coast scenery. I have done trips like this, one of which can you read about here. But because of my limited time off from work, I took a more direct route east described below.
MID-WEST ROUTE: After Prince George we travelled through Jasper and Banff National Parks. This was quiet possibly one of the most beautiful parts of the trip. Icefields Parkway connects the two towns and parks, and privies drivers to snow-covered mountaintops in July, Caribou smiling at you from the side of the road, and the most crystal clear water I have ever seen before. Copilot and I spent the night in Banff and then went to Calgary -> Glacier National Park -> Yellowstone.
ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 6 : THE MID-WEST TO THE EAST COAST
Here are three options to get from Yellowstone to different parts of the East Coast.
TO THE NORTHEAST: Yellowstone -> The Badlands S.D. -> Chicago -> Detroit -> New York
TO THE MID-COAST: Yellowstone -> Kansas City -> St Louis -> Memphis / Graceland -> Nashville -> Great Smokey Mountains -> Charleston
TO THE SOUTHEAST: Yellowstone -> Rocky Mountains -> White Sands Desert -> Carlsbad Caverns -> Houston -> New Orleans -> Orlando
* If you have time, or are heading south, I would highly recommend spending time in the Four Corner States. They are some of the most beautiful in the country. Even just dipping down past Salt Lake City and driving along I-70 passed the San Rafael Swell area is gorgeous. Farther south holds Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and more.
I hope this information was helpful and if you have any questions please ask. I love discussing road trips, giving and receiving advice, and hearing the stories of fellow travelers. For more information on potential routes across the US, check out these links below:
|Road Trip To Alaska - The Black Route from New York to Alaska and back.
States include: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa. Provinces include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon. Photos. / Blog Entries.
|Cross Country Road Trip #6 - The Yellow Route through middle America from California to NY.
States include: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and NY. Photos. / Blog Entry.
|Cross Country Road Trip #5 - The Blue Southern Route from New York to Florida then California.
States include: NY, PA, W. Virginia, Virginia, The Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and CA. Photos. / Blog Entry.
|Cross Country Road Trip #4 - The Orange Northern Route from California to New York.
States include: California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Photos. / Blog Entry.
|Cross Country Road Trip #3 - The Green Northern Route dipping into Canada over the Great Lakes.
States include: New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Blog Entry.
|Cross Country Road Trip #2 - The Dark Orange route through the middle of America (runs along dark purple mostly).
States include: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Blog Entry.
|West Coast Road Trip - The Light Blue Route from Los Angeles, California to Vancouver, Canada.
States include: California, Oregon, and Washington. Attractions also include the Redwood National Park and Mount Saint Helens. Blog Entry.
|Country Road Trip #1 - The Dark Purple Route through the middle of America. My first cross country trip.
States include: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Blog Entry.