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Author Topic: Alaska Highway: Worth the Time?  (Read 1901 times)

The High Plains Traveler

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Alaska Highway: Worth the Time?
« on: December 05, 2014, 09:22:19 PM »

I really need to get to Alaska. It's the last state I have not been in, at least to breathe the air. Given that airplanes, ferries and cruise ships go there, those are all ways to get there that take relatively short amount of time, with little stress at least until one gets off the plane or boat.

But then, there's the Alaska Highway. From my house to Fairbanks, it's 3,200 miles and 57 hours, according to the Goog. Our usual method of highway travel has been pulling our travel trailer, which provides low-cost lodging and the ability to cook our own meals, but slows us down and (compared to our car) is about 2.7X our fuel consumption. Also lets us take the dogs. Given that my wife is not the road warrior I am, and hates to sit for more than six to seven hours a day, we're looking at maybe 10 days to get there. If we took the car, it might save a day or two.

Once we're there and do a loop, we either backtrack or take a ferry down the coast, maybe to Prince Rupert. I did a quick check and found that to put our truck and trailer on the Alaska Ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert might cost about $1700.  Obviously the car would be much less. The ferry wouldn't offset fuel costs by any means but would provide different country to travel.

So, what is so damned special about the Alaska Highway? I've sampled many segments using GSV, and it seems once you get past Fort Nelson [corrected], you're in the northern forest and little changes until you get to Alaska. Other than being able to say I've driven it, is there anything that is a once in a lifetime opportunity?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 11:12:09 PM by The High Plains Traveler »
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oscar

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Re: Alaska Highway: Worth the Time?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 10:36:29 PM »

I couldn't find a Fort Simpson on the Alaska Highway.  Maybe Fort Nelson BC is what you have in mind?  There's a Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories, a long detour off the Alaska Highway (which never crosses into NT).

Having done all of the highway at least once (and multiple times for some segments), I'd encourage you to drive it at least one way.  Some interesting things along the way include Liard Hot Springs in BC (a popular stopover, try to get there early in the day and stay overnight), side trip to Skagway AK, Whitehorse YT, and awesome views of Canada's Kluane National Park which is just west of the highway.  Buy or borrow the Milepost (comes out every year in March or April, and a handy guide to Arctic highways and ferries even if you go to Alaska some other way), for more things that might pique your interest, since the highway has a little something for everybody, as well as other drives you might do while you're up that way.

Lodgings along the highway are scarce except in larger communities like Whitehorse, but lots of places to camp.  Bringing your travel trailer sounds like a good idea. 

I suggest taking the ferry through the Inside Passage at least one way, which is a very different experience from the Alaska Highway.  Not terribly fast, but more relaxing.  Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan (totem poles out the wazoo) are the best places along the main ferry route.  Sitka, my favorite place in Alaska (lots of totem poles and Russian history), is a good side trip by either ferry or plane out of Juneau. 

My first trip (of five) to Alaska in 1994 included most of the Alaska Highway on the way up, and a string of ferries to Vancouver on the way back.  I included the "Klondike Loop" to Dawson City, and beyond over the Top of the World Highway (YT 9), on my way up on that trip, and in reverse on my last trip in 2012. 
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The High Plains Traveler

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Re: Alaska Highway: Worth the Time?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 11:11:24 PM »

I couldn't find a Fort Simpson on the Alaska Highway.  Maybe Fort Nelson BC is what you have in mind?  There's a Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories, a long detour off the Alaska Highway (which never crosses into NT).

Yes, I relied on faulty memory of looking at the map. Ft. Nelson it is. Thanks for your comments.
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