The Ultimate Road Trip for the Adventure Seeker: North to Alaska

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If you can spare 3–4 weeks over the sum­mer and are look­ing for a road trip adven­ture out of the norm, just turn your head North. Dri­ving to Alas­ka is one of the most scenic, excit­ing, and very doable dri­ves in North America.

Get­ting There
You have two options for major high­ways to take through Cana­da: the Al-Can (Alas­ka High­way) or the Cas­siar (Stew­art-Cas­siar High­way). To get the best of both worlds, take one high­way up and the oth­er back down.

The Al-Can high­way begins in Daw­son Creek, BC and can take you all the way to Delta Junc­tion, AK, near Fair­banks. The Cas­siar also starts in BC and ends at a junc­tion with the Alas­ka High­way near Wat­son Lake, Yukon. With these two (fair­ly) well-paved high­ways, your options of des­ti­na­tions are count­less.  To explore lush South­east Alas­ka, home to state cap­i­tal Juneau, dri­ve all the way to Haines, Alas­ka.  From there, you can hop on the SE Alas­ka fer­ry sys­tem and vis­it his­toric towns through­out the area like Skag­way, Sit­ka, Ketchikan, and Juneau.

Ketchican
Ketchi­can

If you want to ven­ture far­ther north, you can dri­ve on up to Anchor­age and Fair­banks.  There is even a road, called Dal­ton High­way, that will take you to the very top of Alas­ka, but don’t expect it to be com­plete­ly paved!

Be pre­pared for some of the best wildlife view­ing ever. Along both the Al-Can and Cas­siar high­ways, it is high­ly like­ly that you’ll see a black bear (or 20), griz­zly bears, moose, mar­mots, coy­otes, bison, and moun­tain sheep. Along the sides of the high­ways you’ll notice the trees and green­ery have been cut back about 20 feet on each side. This was done so that dri­vers have enough time to see and slow down when they catch a glimpse of some wildlife. Keep your cam­eras ready and dri­ve safely!

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Essen­tials
1) A cur­rent copy of The Mile­post, a thor­ough trav­el guide to get­ting to and nav­i­gat­ing Alas­ka. This will save you from run­ning out of gas in the mid­dle of nowhere, help you land a camp­ing spot when you are dead tired, and pro­vide great read­ing mate­r­i­al for the copi­lot.  Also, it will lead you to the vis­i­tor cen­ters in all of the towns along the way for your Wi-Fi, restroom, and sou­venir needs.

2) Bug spray, mos­qui­to repel­lent can­dles, and the like.  They don’t call the state bird of Alas­ka a mos­qui­to for nothing!

3) A book on tape. Or two. Depend­ing on where you are leav­ing from/going to, you are look­ing at net­ting sev­er­al thou­sand miles.

4) Don’t for­get your pass­port! You’ll need this to get to and from Canada.

Denali National Park

Must Sees
Liard Hot SpringsThese glis­ten­ing springs are part of a very well-main­tained Provin­cial Park in BC. You will want to stay the night and spend some time soak­ing and relax­ing in the sec­ond largest hot spring in Cana­da. The camp­ground here is com­plete with fire pits, pic­nic tables, fresh water, and fire­wood for pur­chase (and deliv­ery). To reach the springs, walk along the wood path through the swampy for­est while steam ris­es up around you.  At the end of the walk­way you will find your­self at two large pools (pool A and pool B). Pool A is the hot­ter of the two, with a range from 107–121 degrees Fahrenheit—so bring plen­ty of water and keep hydrated!

Wat­son Lake Sign Post For­estThis quirky stop along the way to Alas­ka is excel­lent for pho­to ops. Thou­sands of sign posts and license plates from all over the world dec­o­rate this tourist stop.

Ice Field Park­wayThis stretch between Banff and Jasper in Alber­ta, Cana­da, is hands down one of the most beau­ti­ful­ly epic two-hour dri­ves in North Amer­i­ca. Make sure your pas­sen­gers have their cam­eras ready or bet­ter yet, strap that GoPro onto the dash­board. Think glac­i­ers, ice fields, and tow­er­ing mountains.

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake: Take a lit­tle side trip from Banff to vis­it these two turquoise moun­tain lakes. The icon­ic views grace many screen savers, so go see them for yourself!

If at all pos­si­ble, make your trav­el plans in the mid­dle of the sum­mer, and get ready to enjoy ample amounts of sun­light and twilight—even at 1:00AM.  Enjoy your trip to the Land of the Mid­night Sun!