North to Alaska
Kevin - I have lived in Alaska 28 years and driven the Alaska Highway a dozen times at all times of year. I could write volumes about the adventures of driving in the North country but I'll limit this to just a few recommendations based on your flying into Anchorage and renting a car to take south to Seattle.
If you drive fairly long days from say 9am - 8pm,it will take you about 4 days. Of course that doesn't give you much time to stop, but trust me when I say that just the sheer beauty and magnificence of it all will blow you away even from behind the steering wheel.
North to Alaska
Kevin - I have lived in Alaska 28 years and driven the Alaska Highway about a dozen times at all times of year. I could write volumes about the adventures of driving in the North country but I'll limit this to just a few recommendations based on your flying into Anchorage and renting a car to take south to Seattle.
If you drive fairly long days from say 9am - 8pm,it will take you about 4 days to drive straight from Anchorage to Seattle. Of course that doesn't give you much time to stop, but trust me when I say that just the sheer beauty and magnificence of it all will blow you away even from behind the steering wheel of your car. And don't forget that in July and early August we have almost 24 hours of daylight up here so you don't even notice what time it is.
Since you have 12 days for the trip, make the most of it. Start by getting a copy of The Milepost at any bookstore or online. It's truly the "bible of the north" and it's the Alaska Highway driver's best friend. It tells you mile by mile everything you need to know including where the sheep are typically on the road!
There are several places that are worthy of extra time along the way . I'd recommend starting off by going south of Anchorage to Seward or Whittier and take a glacier cruise (4 hours including lunch and amazing sights).Then spend a day in Anchorage - many cool things to do. Then head north and in about 6 hours you're at Denali National Park. Spend 1-2 days there. Then 3 hours on to Fairbanks. Spend a day exploring. Then south for about 2-3 hours to Delta Junction - that's actually the official start of the Alaska Highway - that's where the 0 mile marker will be. Continue on to Tok to overnight. There's a KOA-like Campground and a couple of motels.
Next day you drive into the Yukon Territory in Canada (be sure to stop and take a cool picture of both sides of the border. This could be a fairly relaxing and short day (4-5 hours)if you stop at Kluane Lake for the night, or rather long (9-10 hours) on to Haines Junction. From there some of the highlights will be Whitehorse, Watson Lake, the winding highway that goes back and forth between the Yukon Territory and British Columbia about half a dozen times, Liard Hot Springs, to just name a few.
If you take your time, allow for road construction, and don't get impatient with all the motorhomes, you should have a most enjoyable adventure and spending 5 days in Alaska and 7 days on the highway will put you back in Seattle with a pile of memories and right on time.
I should say that actually I have 10 days of driving time, not 12. The first day of my vacation is devoted to flying to Anchorage and the last is flying home, with ten days driving in the middle.
I have already ordered a copy of "The Milepost", which, according to their website, will be delivered in March. I also have a very good book called "Scenic Driving: Alaska and the Yukon", which is most informative.
Am not sure how much time I'll be lingering in the places you suggest. The drive to Seward sounds most inviting, but that would be 250 miles round trip and it would probably eat up a full day. I will probably do it, though. I don't want to have to hurry at the end but neither do I want to end up somewhere in southern British Columbia with two full days to kill before my flight home.
Here's a question for you: what if, instead of going straight along the Alaska Highway, I decided to take the Taylor Highway and Top of the World Highway through Chicken and Dawson City? Would that be better?
CB, thanks for your great post! We've been hoping someone with local knowledge and experience would jump in.
300 Miles a day? That a little low (this coming from someone who has no problems spending 16 hours on the road!).
Taking the Alaska Highway is a nice idea. Here is an idea for an extention to the route that will prove to be both a excellent source of views and a nice drive.
Rather than fighting the Metro Vancouver traffic, perhaps you should take BC hwy 97 through Prince George and Kamloops to 97A and Kelowna BC. There, you can take your time traveling through The Okanogan of British Columbia and Washington State. Continue on BC 97 south to the border crossing at Oroville, Washington. This now becomes US Route 97, and continues south through Washington State. Take 97 south further to Wenatchee, Washington (the apple capital of the world). (you will notice that athough the rumers are that Washington State is all rain and pine trees, there is a desert in Washington). Then, turn west on US 2 over Stevens Pass thorugh Cashmere, Leavenworth, Skykomish, Index, Sultan, and eventuall into the Seattle Puget sound area. Definately worth the trip!
<i>(The AAA guy)</i>
yes - the Taylor Highway is great fun and to say you've been to Chicken is certainly a conversation starter. However, it does take a chunk of time - plan on 2 days from Tok to Whitehorse at the least via that route. The natural stop is Dawson City where you can go to Diamond Tooth Gertie's and cross the Yukon River.
Whichever way you go you're sure to enjoy it.
Taylor/Top of World Highways
I think I will do if I can--go through Chicken and Dawson City, that is. Avis might not allow it, though. I know Hertz doesn't allow their rental cars to be driven on the Taylor or Top of the World Highways. Then again, what Avis doesn't know won't hurt them.
AK Road Trip
The drive to Seward will take all day for two reasons: The motorhomes are pretty thick this time of year and from experience aren't particularily courteous (there are exceptions - bless them!) enough to use the pull-outs. The other reason, if you make the trip I would highly recommend taking at least the bay tour on one of the tour boats. If you stay the evening take advantage of the great B&Bs in the area and check out the Alaskan Sealife Center (my dad works there)! Combined that will make for a long day, but you can make it back to Anchorage in a day. Renown tours had a deal last year where they would pick you up in Anchorage and do the driving and have you back by the early(ish) evening. There is also the railroad, it offers an amazing way to see the sights and avoid the traffic. If you decide to drive, please be patient, there are a lot of people from around the world with a vast array of driving "skills" all on a relatively (in places) narrow road. Each year there are four or five big wrecks and it is sad to us who live here that someone's vacation, even life has been ruined during their trip here. My other words of advice are: Anchorage is a "big" city with a nice view, dont stay there for long if you want to see the real Alaska, get to the small towns, walk to docks and talk to the locals at the small diners or bars, make sure to climb at least one hill/mountain and take in the wonderfully clean air and beautiful view. Good luck and have a great time on your Alaskan adventure! CT
So, tell me DiverDown--would you drive the Alcan the whole way, or would you detour through Chicken and Dawson City? Take the Top of the World Highway and Taylor Highway?
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