Alaska is the biggest US state by landmass, bigger than the three next largest states combined. But it’s one of two non-contiguous US states. It’s very remote and not directly connected to the other US states. If you’re planning a road trip to Alaska, you might be wondering how you’ll get there from the US. So, can you drive to Alaska without passing through Canada?
No, you can’t drive to Alaska without passing through Canada. This is because only one road connects Alaska to the rest of the world, and that road passes through Canada. There are four routes through which you can go to Alaska from the US. You also need to know a few things about driving to Alaska.
You can still go to Alaska by air or by sea directly without passing through Canada. But if you’re interested in experiencing this road trip, you need to know more about what the journey is like. In this article, we look at all you need to know about driving to Alaska.
Can You Drive to Alaska?
It’s possible to drive to Alaska from anywhere in the United States apart from Hawaii. The Alaska Highway is the only highway that connects Alaska to other land areas, which means you’ll have to use this highway if you’re driving to the state. No matter where you start your journey, whether, in the United States or Canada, you’ll have to connect with this road eventually.
The Alaska Highway was opened far back in 1948 to connect the other 48 states to Alaska. Even though it’s generally called the Alaska highway, it’s a combination of Alaska Route 2, Yukon Highway 1, and British Columbia Highway 97. At first, the road was very difficult to travel and longer than it is presently. For example, it’s now 2,323 km instead of 2,700 km. Also, the road is now fully paved, which means it’s easier to travel.
Driving to Alaska from the US
The only way to drive to Alaska is through Canada. So, you’ll have to be driving from the US since that’s the only country that shares a land border with Canada. There are four different routes to get to Alaska, and the one you take will depend greatly on where in the US you’re driving from.
1. Fortuna or Portal border crossing at North Dakota
This is the route that most people travelling from the US will use. Through this route, you’ll have to drive through the Regina – Saskatoon – Edmonton road. It eventually joins with the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek.
2. Piegan-Carway or Sweetgrass crossings in Montana
This route is for those travelling from Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona. After entering Canada through Montana, they’ll have to drive through Calgary before joining up with the Regina – Saskatoon – Edmonton route from which they’ll join the Alaska highway.
3. Sumas Crossing after Seattle
Suppose you’re coming from the West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington State. In that case, you can use the Sumas crossing, which provides an alternative road instead of joining the Alaska highway around Dawson creek. This scenic route is about 2 hours faster than the regular route with mountains and forest. But it’s a tricky road and quite narrow. However, if you choose to use it, you’ll have to follow the Trans-Canada highway, pass through Cariboo Highway before joining Yellowhead highway. From there, all you have to do is drive the Stewart-Cassiar highway to get to Yukon, where you’ll join the Alaska highway.
4. Trans-Canada Highway
For those who live in faraway Maine, the Trans-Canada highway will be the ideal choice. But it’s unlikely that anyone would commit to driving 7,242 km to get to Canada.
How Long Will It Take to Get to Alaska?
The amount of time it’ll take to get to Alaska depends greatly on where you’re starting your journey. For example, those staying in British Columbia will take a shorter time to get to Alaska than those in Chicago. Generally, if you’re driving from the United States, you’ll need over 30 hours to drive into Canada. This will usually take up to 4 days unless you’re driving for most of the day and night. The drive from the Canada border with Alaska to Anchorage will take 8 hours which means an extra day trip.
What to Know About Driving to Alaska?
While a good road trip might sound fun, driving to Alaska is a tasking one which means you have to take extra precautions. Here are things you should know before driving to Alaska.
1. Winter Driving Isn’t Advisable
Apart from the length of the journey, driving to Alaska is more or less like driving to any other place. The road is well maintained and fairly straightforward. But driving in the winter can be treacherous and will take more time. It’s also very risky due to the remote nature of the place.
2. Driving Involves International Border Crossing
Driving to Alaska isn’t a road trip to Yellowstone Park; it involves crossing international borders twice, first when leaving the US to enter Canada and when leaving Canada to enter Alaska. Thus, you’ll need a passport to travel even though a visa might not be necessary. Crossing borders also usually require you to have a clean record, and if you have any criminal record, you’ll have to declare them. A recent criminal conviction might prevent you from entering. Also, it’s always better to leave firearms behind as this could also prevent you from entering. If it’s necessary, then file paperwork in advance.
3. Prepare Your Vehicle
Driving to Canada takes approximately one week for a one-way trip which means your car will be doing a lot of work. Thus, make sure you prepare your car for the trip. Tyres should be in new or near new condition, and every light on the car should be working appropriately. Pack spares of everything from tyres to bulbs, and make sure you have your toolbox with you.
4. Be Prepared
Apart from making sure your vehicle is in good condition, you should also be prepared. This means packing the right clothing, medicine, food, water, Maps, compass, etc. In addition, this trip will involve crossing many remote areas, so you should be prepared to spend the night in the wilderness in case of an unforeseen event.
A road trip to Alaska can be a very fun experience. But it’s more than just a regular trip. It’s a very long one and involves going through Canada. So, you need to be prepared for anything on such a long trip.