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  1. #1

    Default Driving from Charleston, SC to Anchorage, AK...any advise would be great!

    Im active duty Aiforce and received PCS orders to Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson several months ago. I'll be driving my family from Charleston, SC early next year (Feb-Mar 2012). I've been searching all over the net for advise and ran across this awesome site and figure I'd see what advise any members had! My main concearns for this trip are the following:

    1. Which route to take? Espeacially during the winter months! Shall I travel across the U.S. and enter Canada from Washington State or enter around Wisconsin and travel through Canada? The military authorizes me 13 days travel and my daughters will be missing unfortunatley this will not be a vacation/leisurely trip. I'm looking for the fastest/safest route that has the easiest driving (good road conditions).

    2. I just bought a 2011 GMC Acadia Denali and it states in the owners manual to NOT use chains on the tires? It's an AWD so will chains really be necessary or is this over kill? I dontbwnt to spend $150+ chains that might damage my ride if they really aren't necessary.

    3. How crazy should I really get with preparing? IE...survival kit. I'm 15+ years brainwashed by the military soooo my idea of survival kit/bug-out-bag might require a roof rack and/or small Seriously many service stations and towns are out there once we hit the wilderness/remote areas?

    4. Has anyone taken the ferry service to Anchorage? I believe it departs from Seatte area? We do have a dog as well so I just figured she wouldn't be permitted in our cabin. Do pets stay in the vehicles for the 2 day ride???

    I believe that's all I can think about for's bed time and I've got a wedding to shoot the way...I've got my own photography business and have a wicked idea I'm going to work on during my entire trip. check back around April 2012...I should have the project compete by then..if I'm not too busy at my new assignment.

    Todd B.

    Mod Note] New members are not permitted to post outside links [especially for advertising purposes]. You are more than welcome to come back and share your trip report/ideas on the forums. Have a good trip.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-05-2011 at 02:34 AM. Reason: Removed link.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    By fastest route, you are looking at a 4500+ mile drive which would take 10 days of dedicated driving assuming conditions are good enough to drive the speed limit. My software says this is via Knoxville, Chicago, Fargo, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Dawson Creek, up the Alaska Highway to Tok, then to Anchorage.

    It's going to be impossible to predict which route would be "best" at any one time from a weather and road condition standpoint until right at the time of the trip. No matter which route you take, the highway crews are very competent and experienced.

    Before you go, you need to order the current edition of "The Milepost" - this is the essential publication to have when you travel to Alaska.

    If the conditions are bad enough to require chains, you probably should not be out on the road anyway. However, you may want to talk to a GMC dealer about the feasibility of "cable" chains. Whether you get them or not, I think you should probably buy a set of winter wheels and a set of dedicated snow and ice tires such as the Bridgestone Blizzak or Michelin X-Ice. Put those on and ship your OEM wheels with your household effects. You will be glad you have the winter tires if you are stationed in Alaska.

    You can investigate the ferries here. The pet policy is stated very clearly. I have a friend who moved from LA to Fairbanks about 20 years ago, and he took the ferry from Bellingham to Haines. He was driving a rear drive Monte Carlo. He said it was pretty hairy from Haines over the mountains to Haines Junction, but the way they work it when the road is in bad shape is run a convoy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Dog and Canada

    You need to check the current rules. But dogs require special permits to cross into Canada.

    Thanks for your service.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The Milepost

    Having driven to Alaska and back twice, and planning on doing it again in 2012 - albeit a little later in the year - may I suggest that the very first thing you do is purchase The Milepost. This publication is the bible of all who take the trek north... all year round.

    Most of your questions will be answered in The Milepost, with full details of services, road conditions, etc. There is also a section in there on travelling with pets.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As two have already suggested, order the 2012 Milepost!!!!! It's full of articles that will answer your questions, including some about the Ferry system. It also has a mile-by-mile guide to what's along the Alaska Highway....where the services (gas, food, lodging) are, anything that might be worth a 10-minute look-see. If you take the highway all the way up, there are only a few spots where there aren't any services for 50-100 miles, and the Milepost will warn you about those.

    Fuel in Canada is sold by the liter price, so you have to do some conversions in your head to figure out what the American price would be. The good news is that most places take your debit/credit card so there isn't much of a need to get Canadian currency - - maybe just have a little on hand for those localized places that don't take cards or American dollars.

    If you decide to take the Ferry, you will be doing the part of the Al-Can Highway from Haines Jct to Tok, where you will pick up the highway to Anchorage. If you decide to drive the whole way, here are a few highlights:

    1) In Dawson Creek, take an hour to go through the Alaska Highway Museum. You'll understand more about what the builders went through.

    2) In Watson Lake, take a few minutes to walk through the Signpost Forest. It's an amazing maze of signs from all over the world that people have brought ... all started when some of the road builders put up signs to their hometowns!

    3) In Whitehorse, walk along the Yukon River if you can. It will probably be a chilly walk at that time of the year, but there is SO much history in that river!

    I wouldn't worry too much about your kids missing school. If you drive up, have them read the blurbs that the Milepost gives about the things along the way - - they'll get a good history and geography lesson that can't be taught while sitting in a classroom. Drop in at the museum, and some of the other sites. You'll need to stretch your legs anyway. (I say this as a former classroom teacher, btw.)

    Good luck on your duties up there. BTW, they have a wonderful Commissary on Fort Richardson, though Elmendorf has the better Exchange - - or at least it was that way, a few years back.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Too late for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    As two have already suggested, order the 2012 Milepost!!!!!
    I know Donna meant well, but the 2012 Milepost will not be out until late March. And that will be too late for your trip. The 2011 edition will have all the information you will need.

    And yes, make it the book to read for your daughters. The Alcan is an awesome road to drive. Your daughters might like to keep a journal along the way. At the end of each day, write up what was most interesting to them. My grandchildren do that on every trip, and have since they were about 5 years old.

    In Beaver Creek there is a lovely church by the side of the road. It is a little haven of peace... and a beautiful place to rest a while.


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


    In your situation, I think I would take the ferry. 13 days isn't a ton of time for this trip, especially when you factor in the time of year and the chance of seeing winter weather.

    If you do decide to drive, I might look at the possibility of using cable-chains. The reason for the chain restriction is a lack of clearance, and cables might be small enough to work. Of course, you'd have to check, and they may not even have cables for your wheel size anyway. If chains aren't an option, I'd be looking seriously at putting on some snow tires for this trip.

  8. #8

    Default Thanks everyone...

    Thanks for the responses and helpful ensight. I wish the 2012 Mile Post was coming before my trip. I emailed them so perhaps they'll have a copy hot off the

    I can't wait for our trip! I'll likely use some leave during this move just so we can stop at all these cool spots suggested. I'm a history guru and very passionate about my photography. I'll post my AK prints here eventualy. I'll have to stop at that little church.

    Again...thanks for all the useful info.


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    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-06-2011 at 06:11 PM. Reason: New members may not link to commercial sites.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Get it now!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tebfire77 View Post
    Thanks for the responses and helpful insight. I wish the 2012 Mile Post was coming before my trip. I emailed them so perhaps they'll have a copy hot off the
    From my experience they are not all that good at responding to emails (I have never had a reply to any question asked), and I found the phone numbers not much more useful. However, you will find The Milepost available in good book stores, travel agencies and even at some truck stops. I would get it now, so that you have time to make yourself familiar with the routes available, services open, and general winter driving information.

    Don't worry about it being the 2011 issue. In 2009 I used my 2004 issue. For a winter trip, I would still call all essential services beforehand. If by some remote chance you manage to pick up a second hand copy, make sure the Plan-A-Trip Map is included. It is essential to have that map along with the book (which is big and heavy!).


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