Alaska Highways, Travel and Getting Around, Information Alaska

Alaska's Highways: Routes on the 49th

After Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, an Alaska Highway connecting the region to the continental United States was considered imperative to the American military.

Construction of the Alaska Highway began in March 1942. At one stage 17,000 men were using thousands of cars and trucks to assemble the 1,422 mile road from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction in Alaska. The highway officially opened for public use in 1948.

Two thirds of the highway runs through Canada, from Dawson Creek through British Columbia and Yukon Territory towards the Alaskan border and on to Delta Junction, 98 miles south of Fairbanks.

Preparing for traveling on the Highway

It almost goes without saying that preparation is a crucial part of a successful trip on the Alaska Highway. Checking the condition of your tires could be your most important pre departure task, and don’t count out carrying two spares in case of emergency. Remember to pack the usual vehicle first aid – flares, flashlight, tire jack, first aid supplies – as well as some wet weather, sleeping gear and a lot of mosquito repellent.

Driving the Alaska Highway isn’t a trip into complete wilderness. Gas is available every 50 miles on average, although mechanics can be a bit fewer and further between. Bear in mind that at some stages along the road you may not get cellular coverage.

The best way of traveling on the Highway

RVs are the main way people get around the Highway, but they’re certainly not the only way. There’s plenty of accommodation along the miles of road. Government operated camping grounds are plentiful with basic facilities. Private run campgrounds are more expensive than their state counterparts, but are well developed with power and hot water. You’ll also find a range of motels and lodges dotted close to the Highway. There are plenty of eateries along the way, but most business will not open 24 hours and many will only be open during the May to October busy period. It pays to call ahead.

The summer is an inspiring time to drive the Alaska Highway, but also the busiest. June will give you up to 20 hours of daylight, while nights start to get chilly in August. May is ideal for less people on the road, but the weather can be a mixed bag. Departing in September means less people and fewer mosquitoes. Highway conditions can be surprisingly good in winter as snow smoothes out the road.

It is possible to drive the Alaska Highway in a week, but this is a route designed to be taken slow. You will drive through mountains, forests, tundra and lakes, wildlife refuges and national parks. Take your fishing rod, your swimsuit, and let the road lead you! Official "State of Alaska" web site.