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  1. #1

    Default Road Trip Advice Needed

    I'm planning a solo road trip this summer and would definitely appreciate some advice from the experts here. I expect to have about 30 days leaving sometime in late July and returning in late August. I've come up with three general options and would like to get some feedback and advice.

    Option 1: Circle route across northern tier of U.S. and back along southern tier
    Google Maps

    Option 2: Deh Cho Trail to Yellowknife, NWT
    Google Maps

    Option 3: Alaska Highway to Fairbanks
    Google Maps

    Are these options reasonable? I've done my research but what are the issues I should consider in choosing which trip to take?

    Ideally, I'd like to try one of the northern treks but I've never driven on gravel roads before (I'll be driving a Hyundai Santa Fe). I've done a solo cross-country drive once before but that trip was only a little over two weeks long.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default your decisions

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    No one here can tell you the most important thing: which of those options are most appealing to your own personal tastes. If you want to go to Canada or Northern Alaska, then go for it. It seems like thats where you're being drawn to anyway.

    I will say that a month will go by much faster than you think, especially if you are traveling on roads that are not interstate quaility where its going to be difficult to cover more than a few hundred miles a day, and all of your trip are going to require you to be moving foward almost every day. Its possible, but if you are traveling solo, you might want to have a few days to relax and enjoy your surroundings without having to do more driving.

    I will throw in one other option. You might consider driving to Alaska (the Alaska Highway is paved, although I'm not sure of the conditions of some of the other roads you've mapped out), and then take the Ferry back down either to BC or Washington. That would let you do a loop, and give you some time where you don't have to drive yourself, and you'd get to see places you can't see any other way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    You are definitely over-estimating how far you will be able to go in a month.

    If you are considering driving to Alaska, I highly recommend you invest in a copy of The Milepost. It will give you all the information you could want, and more... it is really an essential piece of your planning.

    In 2004 I drove from Seattle to Prince George, via Whistler and Vancouver, then west to Smithers, north along the Cassair to Whitehorse, via Tok to Anchorage, south to Seward, back through Anchorage and Wasilla to Denali and on to Fairbanks. Back down the AlCan to Dawson Creek, to Jasper, through the Canadian Rockies and via Lake Louise, Kamloops and Vancouver back to Seattle.

    I was restricted to 28 days, which made it a very rushed trip, and not much time to really go and see anything. There is so much to see, and having come such a long way, you will want to see it all.

    This year I am doing it again, over a two month period.

    All the roads on which I took my rental car were paved, though many had miles and miles of roadworks going on.

    Lifey who is on her way up north

  4. #4


    Thanks for the advice. My biggest concern was if I've overestimated how much I can cover in 30 days. It sounds like that might be a problem.

    Of the three routes, my first preference is the Deh Cho Trail because I've been to all of the Canadian provinces and would like to visit one of the territories and I've already been to Alaska several times (flying though, not driving).

    The trip works out to about 300 miles per day though that assumes I am constantly on the move.

    How much time do you think I would need to do the Deh Cho Trail trip?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Time for Deh Cho Trail trip

    I'm sorry I can't offer you advice on this particular trip, having never driven north of Kamloops. I can tell you that we generally recommend that people drive no more than about 500-550 miles per day. But this recommendation is generally for the United States, and usually interstate driving or a mix of 2-lane/interstate.

    If you were able to maintain this rate of driving, your trip would take roughly 18 days. However, if you traveled at this rate the whole trip, you wouldn't have much time to stop and explore anything along the way as 500-550 miles usually translates to about 10-11 hours on the road once short stops for food/fuel/bio breaks are factored in plus occasional traffic congestion/road construction. But, where you're going, I know that it will take several more hours daily to maintain that pace.

    Also, we would never recommend that someone maintain that pace for so many days. First, you're missing the exploring part of the roadtrip. Second, you will get tired of driving this much and need a break by either not driving for a day to rest up from the road, or at least having a few driving days interspersed throughout your trip, where you drive far less miles (may only 100 or 200 at most).

    I was doing some playing around and came up with this. It shaves about 1500 miles from your trip and that will probably make a huge difference. Maybe save the Vancouver BC/Seattle WA stops for another trip.

    However, I do agree that you might also enjoy taking the ferry south. You could do something like this. Of course, you would take out the leg from Prince Rupert (D) to Bellingham (E) saving you 900 miles for about 7400 miles.

    If you decide to do this, you will need to check sailing schedules pronto and get your reservation paid for. These trips can fill up fast.

    I have always wanted to drive to Yellowknife myself for some reason. But I think I need more clearance than my New Beetle has. :)

    I wish I could be more specific help but I hope this has given you some information to weigh in your decision.

  6. #6


    Thanks PNW Judy for your advice. I've been to Seattle and Vancouver plenty of times so I can skip them on this trip.

    I looked into the ferry option and I couldn't find a ferry that goes from Prince Rupert to Bellingham. The Alaska Marine Highway serves both cities but traveling between the two requires a multi-day connection in Ketchikan and costs more than $900. BC Ferries runs from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and takes about 15 hours at a cost of $500 (CDN). It also would require another ferry from either Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay north of Vancouver or Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen south of Vancouver. I'm sure the drive down Vancouver Island is amazing, but it looks like the ferry option would add at least two days to the trip. Is there another option with the ferry I overlooked?

    Have you driven the Trans-Canada across Ontario? I've been to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa so I'm curious about the northern route across Ontario because the Trans-Canada is a two-lane highway for much of that drive, which combined with the lower speed limits, would add some time to the trip

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default not fast, but not slow

    I've driven the Trans-Canada highway in Ontario between Sault Ste. Marie and Quebec, as well as some of it in the far western stretch out to the Manitoba border. Its certainly not as fast as a freeway, and the speed limit is only 100km (possibly 110), however, it is a bit faster than a typical 2 lane highway. There is a 3rd passing lane every couple of miles, so you're not going to get stuck behind slow moving traffic for long periods of time. I haven't driven the section over Lake Superior, but I would assume it would be very similar.

    If you want pure speed for this section, you will be better off sticking to the US Interstates, but I have a feeling you'd enjoy the drive if you can fit it into your schedule.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default The ferry

    Regarding the Alaska Marine Highway, If you took that option you'd do either Bellingham OR Price Rupert, not both. You are right there is not a direct connection, but if you wanted to take the Ferry south from Alaska, there would be no reason to go to both places by boat. You'd either travel by boat all the way to Washington, or you could get off at Prince Rupert and drive the rest of the way south.

    edit: sorry, I missed Judy's route suggestion which is what you were referring too. You are right, I don't think the Ferry would be as great of an idea when worked into your trip to Yellowknife. The part of the trip I'd want to see would be along the Alaska coast anyway, but if this is something you'd want to do, then I'd look at making Alaska your destination and get on the Boat south of Anchorage.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Another option is get on the ferry at Haines.

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