Duchess Digest: Planning A Trip To Alaska by Land
By Jill Brown
When visiting Alaska, you can choose to get to the great north state by land, by sea or by air. We’ve already covered by air and by sea, but what if you choose to go by land? The lure of the Al-Can Highway has called to many travelers over the year, and every summer, brave and road tripping loving travelers pack up their cars, trucks and RV’s and hit the road.
The Al-Can Highway is nearly as popular as the destination of Alaska itself. It’s long, it’s isolated and it’s intensely beautiful. Be prepared for loans of road construction, varying weather conditions, long lines at the Canadian border crossing and expensive fuel in the far outlying cities like Whitehorse, Tok and Dawson Creek (no, not the television show, it’s an actual place in Canada). And while the cost of goods might be high, the experience really is priceless.
Glacier fed waters don hues of blue unimaginable until you experience them in person. Bald eagles become as common place as pigeons but never lost their majesty. White capped mountains, even in summer, feed spontaneous Cliffside waterfalls and sunsets come in every share of magenta possible, and even some that seem impossible. The beauty, the isolation, the total peace that will envelop you throughout moments of your drive will forge memories that will last your lifetime.
A few things to consider before you go:
- If you’re going to drive the Al-Can, I highly suggest picking up a copy of the MILE POST. It’s published every year and has the best information on driving routes, construction, hotels and gas stops. It’s worth the cost and handy to have along when you’re travelling for a reference guide.
- Plan ahead. Gas stations can be few and far between once you pull away from the larger cities in southern Canada. Get gas every opportunity you have, even when you may only be at half tank. You never know how far it’s going to be to the next station (or if the station will have gas). Also, book hotels in advance because they can book out fast. Especially in the more remote cities. See the first point about the Mile Post for handy planning purposes.
- Bring your passport. Remember to bring along your passport, as all trips into Canada now require passports! Also expect long lines to cross the border as these border stations are more thorough and strict now.
- Always have your camera charged and ready. Moose, bear, eagles as well as stunning vistas are around every corner. Charge your phone, bring extra batteries for your camera and be ready to capture any moment in a moment’s notice.
You can always combine sea and land, too. A nice combination option that I did last year was to put my car on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry and travel with it by sea from Bellingham, Washington up north to Haines, Alaska – from which point I drove the rest of the 900 or so miles from Haines, Alaska to Anchorage, Alaska. It is a nice way to mix the inside passage voyage with the road less travelled. Whatever means of the journey you choose, it’ll be just as much of a fun adventure as the destination.
Jill Brown is an Anchorage, Alaska based writer and blogger. She earned her Bachelors in Humanities and Sociology from USU and is the founder of “The Duchess Guide” a website dedicated to sharing the ups and downs of life in Alaska. For more on The Duchess Guide or Jill visit: http://theduchessguide.com/
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