Q. What are the best RV routes to Alaska? (This answer will work just as well for car travelers) *Question submitted by Janet of Seize the Day RV Adventure*
A. (I'm including important TIPS for the trip in the next section, below the wildlife pictures.) Both times I've driven from the Lower 48 (once with a camp trailer for sleep and once in a small car, utilizing motels along the way), I've used the same route: Oregon to Bellingham via I-5, B'ham to Abbotsford across the Canadian border, Abbotsford to Hope, Hope to Dawson Creek via BC-1 and BC-97. This is a gorgeous mountainous route. There are a few other ways you can start out, depending on what part of the States you're beginning from. But whatever route you start out on heading toward Alaska, you'll join the Alaska Highway (AKA the Alcan or Alaska-Canadian Highway) in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and from there you just have one highway northwest.
The whole trip is BEAUTIFUL and well worth the time! My trips north took 5-6 days each from Oregon to Fairbanks or Anchorage, and that was going at a pretty good pace and not making long stops. I dream of having a couple weeks to do the trip someday . . . maybe we'll purchase an RV in the Lower 48 and drive it back home to Alaska and take our time. Hard to find vacation time for that long of a trip at this stage in life, though. :)
The wildlife along the way is plentiful. I've seen bears, foxes, moose, bison, dall sheep, a wolf, bald eagles, hawks, and more on my trips. Here are a few photos I've snapped along the way.
TIPS FOR THE TRIP!
1) Buy the current year's MILEPOST book! You will NOT REGRET IT!! It is full of resources you might not even know you'd need until you're in the middle of nowhere, wondering where you can sleep, get food or gas, or see the best sights.
2) Driving the mountain passes is not for the faint of heart. If you're driving a big rig like an RV, make sure you have good brakes and you're confident on steep inclines/declines with little to no guard rails and a fair amount of twists and turns. People do it all the time, but be forewarned so you aren't taken by surprise, especially if you're not fond of heights!
3) Time your trip well. My first time was in June and the weather was fair with some rain. My second was in late September and the weather was pretty good (albeit colder), but we did encounter snow flurries crossing the Rocky Mountains. I can't speak for July or August, but you might find a stretch of warmth in there. The trip is beautiful no matter what, just know what types of weather your car can handle! I know people who have driven it in the winter, but those trips have been out of necessity and not sightseeing.
4) Be prepared for a LOT of construction! Don't be surprised by delays stretching to an hour or more. Tune in to local radio stations for some unique listening if you get stuck! Or bring audio books! With such a huge road trip, sometimes you may talk with your carmates, sometimes you may want silence to take in the scenery, sometimes you may want music, and sometimes you just need something a little different.
5) Any road trip is not complete without emergency supplies and extra food and water for everyone in your party. You don't want to be in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire, an empty fuel tank, or no water to drink. The roads are pretty good overall, except for frost heaves (much better conditions than the beautiful McCarthy Road!), but being prepared and equipped is of utmost importance.
6) If you don't have an RV/trailer/tent to sleep in (tenting would be my last resort with all the bears), try to think ahead for accommodations. Part of the fun of the trip is not knowing how far you're going to drive each day, but I've found that arriving late at night into a town for the night is NOT a good idea. A friend and I got into one northern BC town late in the evening and ALMOST couldn't get a room due to every hotel being booked up by construction workers. Campgrounds probably aren't going to fill up with job crews, but it's good to leave yourself some time to backtrack or move on to another close town if you need to. If you really want to be planned out, you could make reservations ahead of time, but I never did for the reason below:
7) Plan to be flexible. You won't know if you really take a liking to a certain town or campground until you've been there! If you have the time in your schedule, leave room for staying longer at certain places or cutting driving time short for the day if you find a place you want to spend time in earlier in the day.
Driving the Alaska highway (and whatever route you take to get there) should be on everybody's list of road trips, in my opinion! It is a completely unique experience and will provide some of the most picturesque scenery you can imagine. See below for some of the shots I've taken on the trip.