Everything You Need To Know Before Attempting The Alcan Highway

Are you are planning an Alaska road trip and driving the Alcan Highway? There is only one road to Alaska, the Alcan Highway which is commonly known as the Alaska Highway.

Once you cross the Alcan Border into Alaska there are several roads in Alaska but no matter where your journey starts you’ll be driving on the Alcan Highway for a portion of your trip.

2021 COVID-19 Impacts on Driving to Alaska

**Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens will be allowed to travel to Canada starting August 9, 2021**

Currently, the US Canada border is open as of August 9, 2021, but only to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens for vacation and non-essential travel. 

Other requirements in order for U.S. citizens & permanent residents of the USA, (who reside in the USA currently & and traveling from the USA) to travel to Canada:

  1. Received the COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days before arriving at the Canadian border. 
  2. Upload all COVID-19 information electronically here on the ArriveCAN web portal or app.
  3. Vaccination card, you need to have a paper copy on you. A picture of the vaccination card will not provide proof. 
  4. Passport, don’t forget you need a passport to cross into Canada. 
  5. COVID- molecular test results taken within the last 72 hours. Yes even if you are vaccinated you still need a negative test. 
  6. Be prepared to be randomly selected by the agents at the border for testing. 

Starting September 7, 2021 (this may change) all other foreign nationals who qualify as fully vaccinated may enter. 

If you do not meet the above requirements you may be denied boarding your flight and denied entry into Canada. You could potentially face additional fines on arrival as well. 

Driving The Alcan Highway

Before you hit the road you want to make sure your vehicle is ready to take on driving to Alaska and that the car is packed with these 12 essential items. We recently embarked on an epic Alaskan road trip driving from Milwaukee Wisconsin to Alaska in our DIY campervan.

The #1 thing to buy for the trip, helps plan & you’ll need it in the car!

Alcan Highway Map

The best Alcan highway map is in the 2021 Milepost Book, which we purchased on Amazon before our trip. They update the book every year, it’s a very detailed book including every milepost and a foldout map. It’s worth every penny, get one for $29 on Amazon.

If you are planning on doing some camping in Alaska or driving an RV to Alaska a great resource is the “Traveler’s Guide to Alaskan Camping” you can get it on Amazon. It’s a great book that features over 500 campgrounds in Alaska and those along the way driving to Alaska. Complete campsite details with address, contact phone number, description, and more.

Alcan Highway FAQ

What is the Alcan Highway?

The Alcan Highway is the only road to Alaska. We drove up from Wisconsin but those driving to Alaska from California will also end up on the Alcan Highway too.

How long is the Alcan Highway?

The Alcan Highway is 1,387 miles long but the exact length varies year to year on road construction detours.

Where does the Alcan Highway Start and End?

Alaska Highway mile 0 is in Dawson Creek, British Colombia and the Alcan Highway officially ends at Delta Junction at the historic milepost 1422. However, the unofficial end of the highway is mile 1520 in Fairbanks Alaska, but the last 96 miles are on the Richardson Highway, not technically the Alcan Highway.

Is the entire Alaska Highway paved?

Yes, we drove in July 2017 and the entire road was paved. There are gravel patches where they are doing road construction. Do expect road construction during the summer months.

We found the road was in better condition driving back to Wisconsin from Alaska in July than when we drove to Alaska in June. We think they were filling potholes during our 2 weeks in Alaska.

When was the Alcan Highway Built?

Road construction started in March 1942 and was completed in October 1942 but the general public couldn’t drive on it until 1948.

Why was the Alcan Highway Built?

The Alaska Highway was originally built as a supply route during World War II for the US Army.

Is the Alaska Highway open year-round?

Yes, the highway is open all year but there are very few services (gas, restaurants, lodging, etc) open during the winter months.

How long does it take to drive the Alcan Highway?

Driving the Alcan Highway could take only a few days or a few weeks. It took us 4.5 days to drive from Homer Alaska to Milwaukee Wisconsin but that including LONG drive days 16+ hours a day with minimal stops.

Where you are coming from also plays a huge factor on how long the drive to Alaska will be. We highly suggest giving yourself at least a week and adding a few days to explore Banff National Park and Jasper National Park while driving through Alberta. One of our highlights was taking a Banff helicopter tour of the park.

We highly suggest giving yourself at least a week and adding a few days to explore Banff National Park and Jasper National Park while driving through Alberta. On our drive up to Alaska, we spent 3 nights in the park.

Alaska Highway Road Trip

Cameprvan on the side of the road on the Icefields Parkway while Driving to Alaska

Alcan Highway Road Conditions

When researching for our Alaska trip we had read article after article saying how terrible the road is. We had prepared not only the car for the worst but also for ourselves mentally.

The Alcan highway road conditions were much better than we had expected. There were definitely areas that were worse than others but for the most part, it wasn’t that bad at all. There were some stretches where it was pothole after pothole and you had to pick which one was better to hit than the other.

Once we crossed the border into Alaska the road was wavey, it felt like we were on a roller coaster for a few hours, definitely take this stretch slow because you can easily get airborne speaking from experience here…

The road conditions vary year to year and the weather plays a big factor in how it is the next year. Every year there is road construction along the Alcan Highway to keep it up to the best condition as possible.

Best Stops on an Alcan Highway Road Trip

It’s best to break up the drive over a few days. There are some great stops along the Alcan Highway worth spending the night in. Most of the towns along the way will just have a gas station and maybe a restaurant.

If you want to load up on groceries and a big dinner you’ll need to map out your stops in advance or just push on driving. Here are our favorite stops along the Alaska Highway.

  • Muncho Lake
  • Whitehorse – Here you’ll find a Walmart, full-service grocery stores, Starbucks
  • Sign Post Forest Watson Lake
  • Tetlin Junction Bridge
  • Alaska Canada Border at Milepost 1221

Suggested Cities Along the Alaska Highway to Spend the Night

You will go 100’s of miles without going through a town and when you finally do you could blink and miss the “town.” There aren’t a ton of lodging options along the way, there is a bunch of pull-off parking lots where you can park for the night, this is perfect for RV’s and campervans.

There are a good amount of RV parks on the Alcan Highway and several of them have rooms available for rent. Here are a few places to consider spending the night and breaking up the drive to Alaska.

The milepost listed below is coming from Dawson Creek driving to Alaska.

Alcan Highway Essentials Things To Pack

1. Spare Tire

Driving down the Alcan Highway there is no shortage of potholes that are sure to eat your tire (or some may swallow your car whole). We suggest traveling with a full-size spare tire. It could easily be several hundred miles from the next town with an auto body shop.

Once in said town you might have to wait a few days for the shop to get your tire in. We called local junkyards in Milwaukee (our hometown) to find a cheap full-size spare tire and rim. Our van didn’t have a good place for the tire so we built our own tire rack that extended off the back.

2. Gas Can

There are stretches along the Alcan Highway where there are no gas stations for 200+ miles. Make sure to have a full gas can for emergencies. We bought this 5-gallon gas can on Amazon and it fits perfectly in the middle of our spare tire.

We filled up at every gas station we saw and thankfully didn’t have to break into our emergency gas. However, some of the gas stations we stopped at did close later in the evening so had we rolled into town later we maybe would have had to.

3. Alaska Milepost

Alaskans refer to the Milepost book as “the bible to Alaska”. This book has a ton of Alaska information and Alaska maps. It gives a mile by mile description of every highway including accommodation, camping, gas, restaurants, attractions, viewpoints, etc.

It goes through every driving to Alaska route so you can decide which route you want to take. You can buy one here on Amazon, they update it every year.

4. Power Inverter

Not all electronics can be charged off your car’s 12-volt outlet/cigarette lighter port. Having a power inverter is a must especially for charging computers and camera batteries.

We have a 1500 watt inverter, which charged a computer and camera battery at the same time. If you plan on charging several larger electronics at once you’ll want at least this much or higher.

5. Battery Starter car jumper

If your car dies at home you more than likely will call a friend to come to jump you…well that isn’t an option on the Alcan Highway. You’ll want a battery starter that doesn’t rely on another car.

There are several on the market we went with this car starter which also comes with a compressor. Which is super useful if you have any low tires.

NOTE: Make sure to charge the battery starter before driving to Alaska.

6. Tire Jack

Most cars come with a tire jack, but before you start your drive to Alaska make sure yours is still there. Next, make sure it isn’t all rusty and actually works to raise your car high enough to change a tire.

Lastly learn how to use it, check the owner’s manual and find out where you should place the jack safely so you don’t damage anything. If your jack is missing, you really do need one, or if you don’t like the cheap little one that’s in your trunk find a small lightweight tire jack on Amazon that is rated for your car’s weight.

Also, don’t forget to check for a lug wrench or tire iron as they are commonly called to loosen and tighten the bolts on your tires. Knowing these skills can save you an expensive roadside service bill and lots of time if you happen to get a flat tire on the Alcan Highway.

7. Satellite Phone

If you are driving to Alaska alone or have a loved one that is and you want some peace of mind you might want to consider getting a satellite phone. Satellite phones have been cheaper over the years and wouldn’t be a bad idea to have.

8. Multiple USB Car Charger

Drive days are long and passengers in the car are most likely going to be on some sort of electronic. Make sure to pick up a multi-port USB car charger so your multiple things can charge at once.

We have a 5 port USB car charger because we often need to charge GoPro’s, phones, and power banks all at the same time.

9. Road Atlas Map

A good map is a must. Don’t plan on having data on a majority of the Alcan Highway except in cities. We love our Rand McNally road atlas, it has great detailed maps and points out campgrounds which are great for finding a place to pull over for the night.

The Canada section in the road atlas is okay, but if you’d like more Canada detail you really need to pick up this map which includes a map of every Canadian province.

10. Music

Make sure you have Sirus XM radio or a long playlist. No joke there were days where there wasn’t a single radio station available. Our 2006 Honda Odyssey wasn’t set up for Sirus XM so we had to buy this XM car kit. We got a good deal online for $30 for 6 months of Sirus XM online. We had coverage for 75% of the time on the Alcan Highway.

11. Snacks

I still remember the day I asked a shop owner where the nearest fast food place was and he told me 10 hours that way (pointing to Alaska) or 4 hours that way (where I just came from)…So yeah make sure you have plenty of snacks in the car. There are sit-down restaurants along the way but if you are like us and you want the drive to Alaska to be over then sitting down for an hour meal isn’t an option.

We typically drove 12-16 hour days on the Alcan highway and went through fast-food drive-thru’s when we saw them and then had plenty of snacks in the car until then. We had a ton of RXBARS with us or those days with not many options.

12. Water

It’s always good to have a few gallons of water just in case your car breaks down. Very few of the designated campsites had water pumps and the ones that we did use we used for cooking & dishes but didn’t drink them.

13. Toilet Paper/Baby wipes

If there are no gas stations for 200+ miles that also means no bathrooms…so it’s best to have a roll of toilet paper or baby wipes in the car. There are plenty of areas to pull over and do what you go to do but DON’T litter. Make sure to bring your tissue with you and throw it away at the next available garbage can.

Driving the Alcan Highway is a road trip of a lifetime not many can say they have done. If you make sure to have the above 12 items packed you’ll get to Alaska without an issue. 



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87 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know Before Attempting The Alcan Highway”

  1. We are tentatively planning to make the trip from Michigan to Fairbanks for grad school. It will be me, my wife, and three kids as well as a very friendly Blue Tick Coon Hound! Because we are moving we will be taking both of our vehicles a Kia and a Dodge Grand Caravan. I read a previous post that questioned if a Discover card is able to be used along the highway. This is a good question because our primary credit card is a discover, but we do have a MC debit card as well. We plan on traveling in July are there any special considerations? My wife is very nervous about the remote nature of much of the region but I assured her that families make the trip all the time.

    • It’s a great trip and families do it all the time. It’s a great adventure – but totally doable. However, the combination of a Discover card and a debit card of any kind isn’t the best plan. Discover isn’t the most accepted, you’ll probably find enough places that do, but it would be a safer bet with a Visa or Master Card. Debit cards can be finicky in Canada, ours were hit or miss. Bring enough cash with you for the basics gas/food/lodging for a few days to be safe. Have an amazing drive on the Alcan Highway!

  2. Great article! My wife and I made the trip from Anchorage to Ok City in 2013 driving our 2002 Ram PU pulling a 14 ft cargo trailer jam full. 4500 mi. We were able to take our time so saw lots of beautiful stuff on the way. It was late September and I wouldn’t go any later in the year. I did carry extra gas cans which came in handy as the truck had poor gas milage and we had to use them once to make it to the next station. I also carried a 2 ton jack which I had to use in Montana for a blowout on the trailer. An updated Milepost is a must. We carried an ATT Myfi which helped keep us connected to the internet when we had cell coverage but no wifi. But lots of areas had no cell coverage. We are going again in about 2 weeks and will use our phone as hot spots when there is cell service. As we didn’t know how far we could get in the first trip each day we had to get hotel reservations on the way but much better if you can do that in advance. If you go alone a sat phone would be a must. Last trip there was lots of frost heave along the more northern roads but was mostly paved except for construction areas. One spare tire is a must, 2 is better. Don’t miss Jasper, Ice field Parkway and lakes Moraine and Louise. We loved the trip! Great advice in your article.

  3. Hi There, We are planning to do the drive from Milwaukee to Fairbanks in our newly converted camper van, this summer for my family reunion in Fairbanks. I haven’t been back to Alaska in years but drove the Alcan once, back in 1982. So I am excited to do it again, better prepared this time and also to have a chance to share it with my wife who has never been there. Your website and advice is incredibly helpful and very generous. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience! I have my guidepost, but will be looking into the battery/car starter and Traveller’s Guide to Alaskan Camping. Are you still in Milwaukee? As fellow Milwaukeeans, we thank you for sharing!

  4. I made the trip 3 times from/to Atlantic City, NJ to Eielson AFB (around 30 mi East of Fairbanks). I was stationed there from July ‘77 to Aug ‘85. I crossed Canadian Border each time through North Portal, ND. I traveled to AK in ‘77 (solo) most of ALCAN then was pressed gravel, most bridges were wooden. Flew back in July ‘81 to pick up New Car driving back with family this time using trip as vacation. Last trip was leaving AK ‘85. With each trip roads were better, bridges newer, more and better accommodations. My takeaways ….. the kids loved that we were always stopping to see the wildlife, plenty of places to stop to eat & shop & rest from hours on the road. Remember …… there were no cell phones then, first trip most gas stations did not have lead free plus, in some parts gas stations were sometimes 100+ miles apart so you filled when you saw a station ……. still great adventure!!!! Everyone we met was awesome and eager to serve. I’m now 67 and would love to make the trip again ….. before we can’t.

    • Thanks for your service Jim. I was at Murphy Dome in 1963/4 which was near Eilson but is now closed. I live now in Wisconsin and would like to make the trip to Fairbanks. I have made the Route 66 trip two times but want to try something new. As I am near 80 years old I am a little hesitant. What do you think? Thanks again.

  5. I hitchhiked to Alaska after graduating from college in 1968. The Canadian portion of the highway was still gravel from Dawson Creek to the Alaska border, and I recall one close call with an oncoming truck due to limited visibility. I met lots of great people who offered me rides and hospitality along the way and in Alaska. A family from Connecticut took me with them to Mt McKinley. My job was to keep their two children entertained. It was a great memory.

    • That sounds like an amazing trip! The people along the way are still good to each other, maybe not as much as they were in the late 60’s, but people still look after each other. Hope you make it back up there again!

      • Thanks, Adam. It was an amazing trip and adventure. I’m still amazed I did it and can’t quite imagine it happening today. But in 1968, if you were male and just graduated from college, it was the end of your student deferment. If Vietnam might be in your near future, why not hit the road and hitchhike to Alaska.

  6. I hear that some people fabricate or rent bug/rock screens for the front of their truck or car. What do you know about this. Good idea, required or nah, don’t need it?

    • We didn’t find it necessary, but it might save you a chip in the windshield. We didn’t have issues with bugs, but I am sure that depends on the season. I see some merit for the rocks, there are some stretches of gravel every year in construction zones and while you aren’t often with many other vehicles on the road – a rock could kick up. I know for our next ride it isn’t on my must-have list, but if I had a big expensive RV I would probably consider it. Hope that helps.

    • I did in 1979 for our headlights (which are lower than the windscreen and see more rocks) and that helped. One golf-ball-sized rock hit our windshield and the full-coverage screen some people installed might have prevented that (or maybe that) but surely would have hindered our view. And back then, you needed to clean the window A LOT due to all the dust. Because 1000 miles of the route was still a gravel road.

      But it’s not the 1970s, the main route is all paved now (except for stretches a few miles long undergoing construction but those have reduced speed limits.

      In all my trips since, I haven’t even gotten a chip while on the Alcan, although I have on other, still unpaved northern highway (Dempster, the Haul Road, etc).

  7. Thank you for the info –

    I rode up to Anchorage with my (then) girlfriend on a Honda 550, from Milwaukee to Las Vegas, then to AK, in 1976. One sleeping bag with our clothes rolled up inside. There were many miles of gravel, and we learned to be ready for the dust and to keep our mouths closed when a truck came at us. There was a type of oil/dirt that would get onto our teeth from the trucks. Since we were young, nothing could happen to us! We made it to Homer, slept in a hut on the beach for the first few nights. I would not trade those memories.

    • Doing the inland trip, you’re definitely entering Canada and need a passport (or birth certificate and Driver’s license for US citizens) and need to not be a felon, convicted of a DUI, or have handguns, ARs, AKs, etc with you.

      You can take the Alaska Marine Highway “State ferry” from Bellingham WA to Valdez or Whittier to get to Alaska without passing through Canada which is obviously helpful for low-level criminals that Canada doesn’t want and the more dangerous types that are on no-fly lists or trying not to be detected by TSA, etc. Guns (including Glocks, .44 magnums, ARs, AKs – all the types Canada doesn’t want) are allowed locked in your vehicle or given to the purser if you walk on. $700-ish walk-on. $2500-$3000 driver and vehicle. Reserve far in advance – summer slots go fast.

  8. Back in ’90 I hitchhiked up the Alcan right after leaving the Army. It took a while, because although rides were easy to get, some turned into fun times. One was an extra week I spent at a HUGE family reunion with some random ride (she was a sweetheart who, upon pulling over to offer me a ride, asked if I was a serial killer). One of my most memorable meals was at a Canadian Railroad work station in the woods. Eventually I caught the ferry down from Skagway to Juneau and lived there for three years. I have a Pathfinder now and am thinking of heading up again in Spring.

  9. Hi
    My husband and I will be driving a ford 4×4 diesel dully and a 22 ft trailer from central California to the Kenai peninsula in May 2021. I have never done this kind of road trip and am excited and intimidated too. We are building a second home there and will be leaving the truck and trailer behind. Will there be any issues with pulling a trailer?

    • There shouldn’t be any issues. Just watch for the ‘road heaves’. The heavy winters can do a number on the roads. Traveling in may is in the early part of the main drive season and not all of the heave s may be repaired and they can throw a trailer around a little bit. Drive safe and you shouldn’t have a problem. Also make sure you have your documents in order in case the land borders are still limiting travel in May, if you are traveling to a residence you should be ok, but I would make sure before heading out.

  10. I drove the Alcan in the spring of 1962 when I was discharged from the Army. My transmission broke (literally) and I had to leave the car at a garage and take the bus to Seattle. I bought a used transmission and took the bus back and fixed the car. A month later, one of my Army buddies drove down the Alcan in a bug-eyed Austin Healy Sprite. After his Army discharge I joined him on his drive to Birmingham, Alabama. We decided that a drive from Seward, Alaska to Birmingham, Alabama was just a little bit too short so we extended the trip to go to Key West, Florida. I think that has to be the longest possible trip from one part of the US to another.

  11. Have driven the ALCAN a total of 19 times (used to work fire contracts in the lower 48) three times by motorcycle. The road, motels, restaurants improved every year since ’97. I am 81 now and number 20 is on my bucket list for 2020. It is a great adventure and I recommend it to anyone. Be careful at the gas stations, they will offer to sell you gas for American dollars (one AD for one CD) but you lose value because the CD is usually 30% cheaper than the USD. Stay safe and watch for the buffalo.

      • Adam…thx for the info! When the border opens I’m planning on leaving Indy for Alaska. I work while I travel and finding current cell/cell data tethering coverage info from actual travelers is difficult to come by. I have AT&T cell coverage with a WeBoot 4G w/Trucker Antenna. When traveling in my RV I have to stop throughout the day to work…meaning tether my cell to my computer to send emails sometimes w/pdf attachments. How good/bad is the coverage from Dawson CreeK to the Alaska border? I prefer not to get a Sat Phone, b/c of the expense and the Sat ph/plan info is all over the place also… Your thoughts… Thank you

        • I would not relying on being able to work while driving up to Alaska, especially the northern section of the drive. The data coverage is very limited. If you have to get work done while traveling I would plan your stops accordingly to be somewhere with land/satellite-based internet on days where you have to work. Relying on cellular internet for uploading PDFs and to a lesser extent emails is not really practicle. Maybe stay overnight in places like Whitehorse and knock out some work and then keep going. Hope that helps and you make the trip if you haven’t already done it!

    • In 1980 I drove a ’58’ 3/4 ton GMC pick up with an 8′ cab-over camper along with my wife and 15 year old son. At that time there was 800 miles of gravel road and even with headlight protectors, I busted two of the four headlight system from gravel being tossed at me by oncoming traffic….and cracked my almost new windshield so badly I changed it after I retuned home. We ended up driving on to Circle, which at that time, was the end of the road as the mighty Yukon River was quite wide at that point and the bridge which Is now there hadn’t yet been built.
      While I am now two months from turning 80, I still do ride a motorcycle, but even in my heyday, I would never have considered riding on the Al- Can as there were potholes, sometimes wide and over a foot deep, which in the frequent rains, were simply invisible until almost being swallowed by one.

      • We were able to yes, but some of the gas stations in the same towns along the Alcan Highway are the old school gas stations with no card readers. Therefore you have to go in the store to pay and therefore they don’t sell gas after hours. You still need to plan out your gas, we tried to fill up whenever we saw a gas station if we knew we had a long drive ahead of us.

  12. I lived in Fairbanks in the early ’70’s after graduating from college in SoCal. I made the trip up and down the Alcan about 9 times at different times of the year. Once had a problem in the early summer when my Corolla crossed a bridge with a steel lip and the gravel road had eroded about 4 inches. I tried to slow down but hit it at 30 MPH and blew out both front tires and bent a rim. I had to roll them about 2 miles to the next station and the owner managed to straighten out the rims and re-inflate them. The best time of the year was in the winter (my car was winterized with frost shields and low visc oil) because the gravel road was packed snow and smooth to travel at 50 MPH. The only problem I ran into was near Ft St John when a state highway truck was dumping gravel with large dirt clods on the road traveling towards me at high speed. The car in front got a smashed windshield and I lost a head light. The local constable just shrugged it off when I tried to report it. I have lots of great memories of full horizon sunset/sunrises, jack rabbits by the thousands sitting along the road, and days of lonely road travel which I loved.

  13. In April through July this year We drove 8,500 miles from Reno to lake Louise to Whitehorse-Train to Skagway, drove to Skagway-Whitehourse-Tok-Dawson-top of World—Chicken-Fairbanks-Anchorage-Homer—Whittier—Seward-Valdez-Kennecott and to home with diesel dually truck with a camper towing a Jeep. Put additional 2,000 on Jeep. Had 5 gallons of gas and diesel extra in Jerry cans. $1.39 average price per liter but the US exchange rate means you only pay for 3 liters per gallon and I never needed gas cans. Full stops are Usually every 50 miles except north of Tok until you reach Fairbanks. The Paved roads are good but narrow but expect very big waves from tundra melting under the pavement in Alaska. Dirt portions were better shape as easier to fix. GennAllen Tok cut off was the worst. 25-30 mph on good short stretches. A real roller coaster. Most speed limits 80-100 KPH.

    Carry your own food for the long stretches. Lots of small gas stations with mini cafes. All camping in Canada must be in Provincial Parks. $12 can usually. Spend a lot of time and see everything. Yukon and Alaskans are wonderful

  14. Drove the AlCan in July / August 2014 with a Tesla Model S85. Starting planning to do it again July 2020 in a Tesla Model 3 or Model X. Both have electric ranges over 300 miles.

    Any interesting changes since 2014?

    Also, Liard Hot Springs was incredible.

  15. My friend and I, plus my 3 month old Chesapeake/Golden Retriever, hitchhiked from Sacramento to L.A. to Anchorage in June 1973. We were 19 year old coeds. What an epic journey. It took us 2 weeks. At that time, only 60 miles were paved near Dawson Creek. Luckily, most rides went to a town, and the towns were about a day apart.

    Only once did we spend the night in the wilderness alone. We had nabbed a ride with a Canadian forest ranger. He turned off up into the mountains…left us to spend the night near a Native American burial ground. All we had were tube tents that we strung a rope through. It let loose with an early summer Canadian Rocky rain storm and we were soaked. Talk about tears. HAA!!

    One thing you didn’t mention – mosquitoes. They are the size of humming birds and they are everywhere. In the olden days, they stopped searching for lost people after 3 days because they would have died from mosquito bites. Take the strongest bug spray you can find. Lots of it.

    I enjoyed your travel recommendations. At least these days you poor folks have a fully paved highway.

  16. We are just starting to plan our trip for summer of 2021. We are caravaning with friends. Motorhome and travel trailer. I am sending this out for all of them to read, great information. Thanks.

  17. Headed from Texas to Kenai in August/September. Would it be best to go ahead and exchange some USD to Canadian for fuel/etc. for the trip?

    • We would suggest getting some Canadian dollars for the trip for the rare places that won’t take card. We had about $100 CAD on our last trip up. We didn’t use much but it’s smart to have some. On the way back home we bought food and other things with it to use it up. You can get some from a bank at home, or change it in Canada, or get some from the ATMs in Canada. Have a great drive up to Alaska it’s a trip of a lifetime!

    • Just stop at an ATM in Canada and put your bank card and PIN in. Canadian dollars will come out.

      Or don’t bother. Along the Alcan, all the businesses take US dollars (and almost all of them take credit cards anyway). The exchange rate might not be great but if it’s $5US for a shower in a campground instead of $5CAN, who cares?

  18. I’m planning on Riding my 2017 Harley Tri Glide in the summer of 2021! What are the road conditions? I’m planning on about a month to do the trip!! Is that enough time!! Leaving from Toronto! Coming back through the US!!

    • The road conditions change fairly dramatically after each winter. It’s best to check on road conditions about a month in advance of the trip. We suggest a minimum of a month for this trip because it involves around 10 days of travel depending on your pace and you really want at least two full weeks in Alaska, but you could easily spend a lot more time. Happy planning!

  19. I have done the Alcan five times. Once in a Suburban, three times in a motorhome and once on a motorcycle.
    Going in June will cause you to drive on more gravel roads. And have more wait time for construction crews because it’s common for them to have only one lane open and you will have to follow a lead car.
    With the motorcycle It was an adventure bike and I carried an extra fuel tank but I never needed it.
    Driving back in July, we added hundreds of extra miles to our trip because of fires. Be prepared for that.
    I’m going to be riding my Africa Twin Adventure bike back up there around June 21st, I will still take an extra gas tank with me because I don’t know what stations are still open. And as one poster said fill up as much as possible!
    You will see black bears next to the road in Canada, brown and grizzly bears are usually back off the road a bit. You will also see buffalo and sheep.
    I have always found the Canadians to be very friendly,
    Enjoy your vacation!

  20. Thank you very much from Belgium! So very well written! My wife and I would love to do this in August 2020, but we’re afraid our 14y old daughter will get bored in the car. 🙁

  21. My wife and I are riding our Harley Davidson from So, Cal to Alaska this July/August. We have 30 days to do the trip. Cross boarder through Montana, definitely Banff and Jasper. Alcan on up. Coming back we are planning going South on Hwy 37, through Vancouver and Pacific coast home. Anybody out there that has done this ride and has any tips please post.

  22. There is lots of city’s and towns in Alberta and BC all the way and camp grounds,less by far once your actually on old part of Alaska highway.carry 5 gallon jerry can for fuel,spare water, cell phone, small tool box, spare snacks,have good tires and a spare tire,throw in sleeping bag if in a vechicle only. Money also. Be fore leaving ,get battery,fan belt checked,tires.Great trip.

  23. I did this drive roundtrip from Georgia on my “honeymoon” in 2011. Two 20-year-old’s and a baby dog with a packed out mini SUV. We about killed each other several times, but the views were fantastic. Amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even saw a bear walking on the road outside of Skagway (he didn’t cross over the yellow line), and we got a nice selfie with him of course. We didn’t prep at all for gas stops, etc. We brought a CD for tunes because no radio signal. That’s it. We just used common sense. No problemo.

  24. Howdy, I have yet to make the trip, but would love to go sometime…..All the advice you have given is priceless…..I do have a friend in Palmer, just north of Anchorage who has made the trip twice…….Also reminds of when another friend made the trip from Victor, Idaho in a car that I wouldn’t have trusted outside city limits, ( a old Ford Pinto ),…..He made it, but somewhere along the way he made a wrong turn and went 200 miles to a deadend and of course had to turn around….This was quite a few years ago…….

    • It’s an awesome drive and worth every mile! I am sure the Alcan Highway has changed a bunch over the years, but it’s still a trip of a lifetime. While not an “easy” drive pretty much most vehicles that are mechanically sound can make it. Hope you make it someday soon! Let us know if you have questions or if you need some more motivation to make the trip!

  25. I am driving from San Francisco via Boise to Anchorage , female alone, the end of April 2019. Anything cautionary tips or comments? I will be in a BMW X3 and thought it would be fun a couple nights to sleep in the car in campgrounds… yeah, I am an adventurous one!
    Is the highway once you get into Alaska a direct to Anchorage? I’m still looking at the maps and trying to figure out the best routes.
    Thank you for your words of wisdom and all the valuable information!!


    • Hi Dyann – Sounds like a great trip! A few things to consider. In late April the chances are still good you have some winter weather along the way. It sounds like you have 4 wheel drive which will help. As far as sleeping in the car – sure you can do it, however you may not find a lot of campgrounds officially open since you are traveling before the season really starts. Another factor to consider is it’s going to be pretty cold yet with nighttime temps below freezing, which is totally doable – just bring enough blankets. You might not find a lot of hotel/motels/lodges open yet either. There will be some open, but traveling early in the season you really do need to plan better than the summer months.

      I would pick up some of the guides we recommend the Milepost book https://amzn.to/2LZHJQr and the camping guide http://amzn.to/2AXsUY7 if you want to camp along the way. If you are coming from Boise we would suggest going up through Montana into Canada driving through Banff and Jasper National Parks and then connecting to the Alacan highway which brings up to Alaska. If you have time a worthwhile detour is dipping into Glacier National Park. Even if you are tight on time it would be a mistake to miss Banff National Park either on the way up or on the return trip. Once you are past Dawson Creek you don’t have many choices in roads – there’s really only one. Hope that helps a bit. Happy planning!

    • Dyann,
      My wife and i just drove to Alaska from Chico CA last week. Roads were great and we only had to use the wipers for about 2 hrs as we struggled through the Seattle traffic (looks like your from SF so maybe the Seattle traffic wont bother you!). We crossed the border at Sumas WA instead of Blaine. We did the Alcan instead of the Cassier Hwy as we heard there were more services on that route. If you have time, bring a suit and towel and hit Liard Hot Springs on the way up. Be prepared for LONG stretches of nothing and $6.00/gal fuel in BC. Buy a copy of the Milepost as its your guide book on the way up!

  26. Hello,
    I am in the process of down-sizing disposing of of items collected over the years. Among those items are travel sections of local newspapers from anywhere but mostly the Montreal Gazette where I live. Before disposing those items I make it a point to read again. I came across of this article about Alaska Highway. The article is dated August 18, 1994. The writer described her trip as taking a Greyhound bus from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse in Yukon, then Alaska Direct coach to Fairbanks. My question: does this mode of travel still exists? About a year ago I tried to search info from Greyhound but I’m not getting any either by calling or online. Do you have any current info? I would appreciate it greatly. Despite my age driving the Alaska Highway is still in my bucket list. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Marcia – After a little bit of searching around it looks like there are still buses that run up to Alaska. However, it looks like it would be many connections across a few different bus lines. Honestly, this dosen’t seem like the most romantic way to get up to Alaska, while possible it probably won’t be super comfortable and probably less than pleasant at times. Have you considered taking the Alaska Marine Highway system? The ferries would do most of the driving, that might be worth looking into – plus there is some great scenery. You could get off at any point and drive from there.

  27. I am driving the Alcan this summer in a 2016 Dodge Ram. Is there cell phone reception along it at all? That’s my biggest concern incase of a breakdown, flat tire, etc.

  28. My hubby and I drove the ALCAN in 1969 to Ft. Richardson Army Post from Baltimore, MD for his 1st Military Assignment. Truly, it’s a trip you make once in a lifetime. I enjoyed reading your suggestions for others to follow and I suggest they do so. In those days it was a little battery transistor radio and a polar camera and we took the advice of folks who were extremely helpful and appeared along our journey. DO NOT drive at night, it will be a waste of time; ONLY daylight, we were told. You will not make better time or slip off the road. The View is Awesome. We had to use a rubber mat strapped on the gas tank for the gravel miles ahead and we needed an electric heater for the gas tank for the cold nights. Be sure to keep a FULL TANK. Keep your windshield clean with today’s BELOW temperature fluid cleaner. Good Luck to those driving in the Winter. We ate ham/cheese sandwiches all the way on Wonder Bread and drunk water from a thermos jug. It was the BEST Honeymoon. I will always remember the adventure, as a newly Army Wife. Thanks for reminding me; it’s our 50th Anniversary this year!

    • What a great experience and honeymoon! We would have loved to drive this road at that time, I am sure a lot has changed. Thanks for the good tips! Any plans for a return drive?

      • Hi! My son is in his way up now and we realized his credit card is Discover which they might not take at the gas stations. In Canada. He has a visa debit card or could use a visa gift card he has! Any suggestions ? He will be alone so I am the concerned mother. Lol
        Thank you for any help!

        • If he has a Visa debit card he should be ok in most places. I would suggest some cash (at least a few gas tanks worth) in case there are issues with gas stations and cards. With the debit card, he could take out cash along the way too at an ATM as needed in Canada. I don’t think he’ll be in too bad of shape with the cards he has, I wouldn’t worry too much.

    • Loved your story. We drove it in 1968 for the same reason. Philadelphia to Anchorage. It was truly a beautiful experience even if I didn’t truly appreciate it as much at the time. Too much of a hurry to get there. Our return trip was different. Alcan to Haines and then the ferry and down thru Seattle. A great option to see different parts of the USA as well.

  29. I am going to Fairbanks for a job. Will be leaving from Seattle around mid February 2019, fingers crossed. I am driving my 2006 Honda Odyssey solo. Thanks for the information, good stuff.

    • I love this. I am pre-planning a spring 2020 trip with my 12 year old dog in my 2wd Ford Ranger with a shell. This was really helpful. Any thoughts on taking the dog and/or the 2wd truck?

      • I wouldn’t be concerned about a 2wd drive truck, our last trip was in an 11-year-old minivan which was 2wd. With a dog you may just not be able to camp at all campgrounds, but there should be plenty along the way where you can. The best thing to do is pick up the Milepost book http://amzn.to/2j3UuA3 and if you are camping the camping guide http://amzn.to/2AXsUY7 – these will give you even more detail of what campgrounds you can visit with pets. Dogs will only be allowed into limited portions of most national parks, so you’ll have to plan accordingly that way. Happy Planning!

  30. Great blog! Our plan is to head up there from Madison WI starting May 2019 in our Sprinter van. We will get a Sirius XM subscription, that was a great idea. Would you check your link to the Canadian Map atlas, or if you could just tell me the title? I too like to have a paper map. We have good USA maps but want to ensure that the Canadian atlas is good.

  31. Hi I plan to drive for the first time. This information is great I will take it and read and follow. Also, regarding the pot holes. I wanted to haul a cargo trailer 5X8 hitched on to a Toyota Tacoma V6. Whats your thoughts about that? Also in addition to a gasoline container, What about currancy? should I canadian currency to fill up on gas or a debit card like visa? Also what can I cross over into Canadian boarder? as far as garden items, packages of seeds, foods,things like that?

    • If the truck is rated for what you are hauling it should be fine. There are a few spots with grades, but nothing crazy on the main roads. Most places take credit card, but it would be smart to have some Canadian money, we took out about $100 CAD from an ATM when we entered into Canada, we didn’t spend much of it, but it was good to have and used it to fill up on the way out of Canada. I would clean all of your garden tools and also check the Canadian Government website for info on bringing seeds and food because there are restrictions on some items. Have a safe drive!

  32. We don’t use RV sites at all for the last year and a half traveling in our 23′ Sprinter van. Will there be enough of those pull off parking lots that you mention all the way up to Anchorage from Banff and then down to Prince Rupert? Does the MIlePost list these kind of spots to park or are they called something else? Great blog btw and we are finding very interesting viewpoints from you.

    • Along the Alcan there are lots of places to free camp, the Milepost helps find some of these, but they aren’t too hard to find along the side of the road too.

  33. Just getting ready for my second ALCAN trip in mid February. Indiana to Fairbanks in 7 days! Glad the XM got 75% coverage. Did you use the more expensive antenna or the basic antenna? BTW Toad River has killer omlets!

    • We just used the basic included antenna, which worked well for the majority of the ALCAN, it struggled to get a clean connection once we were (it seemed) a higher latitude. I just looked it up and it looks like they don’t have dedicated satellites for Alaska, but we got coverage way up into the Yukon and bits and pieces of Alaska. I am not sure a better antenna would help, but it sure wouldn’t hurt. Thanks for the recommendation in Toad River, I think we only gassed up there and were back on the road. Good luck on the trip, and safe driving!


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