1,387 miles. From Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada, cutting through the Yukon Territory, to Delta Junction, Alaska. For those who drive to Alaska, it is a badge of honor to drive the entire length. We did, and we have the certificate (and pictures) to prove it!

It was first built in about 8 months in 1942 to connect Alaska (a U.S. territory, but not yet a state) to the lower 48 through Canada to aid with WWII efforts. Initially, it was mostly hard-packed dirt and gravel road. Now it is mostly paved, with some portions that are still dirt/gravel, and it has been realigned in spots (realigning parts of it began in the 1970s). It is almost entirely two lanes.

Other than arriving in Alaska, expectations include jaw-dropping views and spotting wildlife. Many question the condition of the road, especially when driving a motorhome or pulling a travel trailer. Did it meet our expectations? And how was the road?

There were parts of the Alaska Highway (aka the ALCAN) that were, frankly, boring. The road was in good condition, the treeline on either side of the road started at least 100 feet or more back so visibility was excellent. But there were no mountains in the distance, and the wildlife decided to take the days off when we were driving it. There were no interesting billboards either. Just a lot of road with trees and shrubs.

Then there were sections of the ALCAN that yielded excellent views of bridges, rivers, lakes, and snow-capped mountains. We spotted a black bear and saw two grizzlies grazing near the road. We stopped for a Wood Bison who claimed our lane as his own while his pals were relaxing along the side. We might have seen an elusive moose. We slowly traversed portions that were dirt/gravel. And we virtually “tiptoed” our way through cavernous frost heaves.

Our tires are still intact. Our truck’s shocks might need to be replaced after this trip. Our windshield has developed a new crack. The truck and RV have a nice, heavy coating of dirt. And the contents of our Airstream were tossed in new directions.

It took us six nights and seven days to cross the entire Alaska Highway. We weren’t in a rush. We could have gone slower, but we just didn’t find any place along the way that beckoned us to stay. We know others try to blitz down it much faster, not worrying or caring about the wear and tear on their vehicles, and they easily passed us while we watched them bounce up and down and up and down and up and down. At least, watching them, we knew what was coming up in the road!

Our trip on the ALCAN started in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, at the Mile “0” sign. Actually, there are two Mile “0” signs. One is set up at the Visitor’s Center for tourists to easily take selfies with their RV or motorcycle in the background. The other sign is posted in the middle of an intersection a couple of blocks away. We made sure to get a picture at both.

The first 200 miles or so of the highway is the most boring section, other than the one or two bear sightings we had. As the drive became more mountainous, we noticed it ran through a lot of oil-drilling territory owned/run by ConocoPhillips. There’s no evidence from the road – everything is behind the trees – but we would see an occasional sign indicating something oil related with ConocoPhillips on it.

Our first night we stayed at the Sikanni River Campground, one of the original campgrounds on the ALCAN, in the middle of nowhere. Yes, we were near a river (and could have had a spot right on the river), but the campground was right next to the road at the bottom of a steep (8-9% grade), long mountain. If truckers were climbing it, they were mashing the gas pedal and gearing up. If they were coming down, they were hitting their airbrakes and gearing down. There wasn’t a lot of traffic, but just steady enough to make it annoying. Basically, staying at this campground is just a way to get off the road for a while. No restaurants, no quiet river interlude, no cell service, no television stations, no outdoor fires allowed (fire season). This is one way of “roughing it” in an RV! They powered the place with a diesel generator and did have Starlink so we could check messages and get weather reports.

Our second official day on the ALCAN was more exciting. Because of a shift in the wind, we drove through some smoke from a distant wildfire, but it eventually cleared. We drove along bodies of water and over dirt/gravel areas. We stopped for a sought-after cinnamon roll at Tetsa River Campground. The lady makes 250 cinnamon rolls every day unless she runs out of ingredients. She is literally in the middle of nowhere, so getting ingredients could take an entire day in and of itself. UPS, USPS, FedEx, and Amazon do NOT deliver out there! We arrived at her place around 4pm and were surprised to learn she had sold over 200 cinnamon rolls that day. We didn’t think there had been enough traffic to warrant that, so EVERYONE must stop there to get at least one. It was large, warm, gooey, and delicious. We ate one there and took another with us.

For the night, we stopped at a pull-off next to Muncho Lake. Wow, wow, wow. It was blue and beautiful. We saw a floatplane land on the water (there was some sort of lodge around the bend) when we first pulled in. Other than that, it felt like we had the entire lake to ourselves. It is one of the largest lakes on the ALCAN, and we just couldn’t see any of the others who had pulled off to stay the night next to it. We planned to put our kayak in the next morning, but we awoke to rain. So we left and headed down the road, stopping at Liard River Hot Springs.

Liard River Hot Springs is rustic and in the woods. We had to walk about one-half mile on a boardwalk through a marshy area to get back to the spring. There was a building with his/hers changing rooms – a big open space with benches and hooks but no privacy. And the spring was right outside the doors. The setting was magnificent, being surrounded by woods and rocks, with one end of the hot springs being comfortably warm and the other end being hotter. We stayed toward the hotter end, finding that if we swirled our arms from top to bottom, the heat would temper a bit. While there, there was a gentle rain/sprinkle. It is odd, honestly, to be squatting in a hot spring while your head and face are being rained upon.

Our next nightly stop was in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, a small town along the Alaska Highway. This town is known for the Sign Post Forest. It started in 1942, when a few of the highway workers became homesick and posted signs pointing in the direction of their homes. This has now blossomed into an area boasting over 100,000 signs from all over the world. Some signs are simply license plates, others are professionally made, and others are personal items like motorcycle helmets or flip flops. We went to the local hardware store and bought a piece of wood and some chain and made a sign with a black sharpie. We will check on it on our way back through and try to improve it. When we were putting together our Alaska spreadsheet, Karen rewatched YouTube videos of some of our favorite full-time RVers who went to Alaska in 2018. We found Keep Your Daydream’s sign and Less Junk More Journey’s sign!

Watson Lake has a very informative Visitor Center, with a film about the Alaska Highway, a small museum of sorts, maps and tons of brochures. It also has showers in the bathrooms and free wifi. We asked about boondocking in the area, and we were told we could stay the night in a large gravel parking lot near the Visitor Center. It was perfect for the night, and there were four or five others who did the same thing.

Our next stop was in Whitehorse, YT (Yukon Territory). We decided to stay two nights at Pioneer RV Park. Carl made a new friend, Manfred from Munich, Germany. Manfred and his wife have been spending their summers in Whitehorse for YEARS! Carl helped Manfred replace the radiator in his pickup truck which is very similar to his. The RV park had a place where Carl could change the oil in our truck. It was a level area with ramps for him to use as well as a place to dispose of the used oil and oil containers. Nice bonus! We then stocked up on supplies and fuel while in Whitehorse, and it was nice to have a day of not travelling.

We were getting closer to Alaska and probably could have made it across the border the day we left Whitehorse. But the condition of the road worsened as the day progressed. The first 200 miles were relatively good, but as we got closer to an area called Destruction Bay, we started to do a little more dipping and diving. After Destruction Bay, the road got more treacherous, and we were getting worn out! We decided to stop at Lake Creek Campground and had a quiet spot along a river. It was a good place to recharge.

The next morning, we “tiptoed” our way around frost heaves and potholes to the Alaska border. We noticed other RVs lined up on the other side of the “crossing,” and our agent instructed us to line up as well. We both initially thought that everyone was getting searched, but soon discovered that our entrance into Alaska was being greeted by miles (and I mean MILES) of the highway under construction and we were all waiting for the pilot car. Welcome to Alaska!

Our first official stop in Alaska was at the Tetlin National Wildlife refuge. We purchased a $2.00 map showing the state and national campgrounds, which has been useful on our trip. We went a little further down the road and decided to stay a couple of nights on the Yarger Lake at Lakeview Campground. It is run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is free (although they have a box to accept donations). We took our kayak out on the lake and enjoyed seeing snow-capped mountains from the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in the distance. A couple of floatplanes landed and took off from this lake. They will often stop at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife dock on this lake to get refueled. They order the fuel from Tok, which is about an hour or so down the road and, once it is delivered and they are refueled, they take off!

Our last day on the Alaska Highway took us through the small, small, small town of Tok, where we stopped at the Visitor Center and a gift shop and had lunch at Fast Eddy’s Restaurant (a recommended stop that we enjoyed; the food was good). Our final stop was in Delta Junction, which is the official end of the Alaska Highway (again, two signs to prove it!). A bonus for us was the farmer’s market across the street which had not yet closed. We bought some homemade jams and talked with a lady who had a crochet “booth.” She shared her personal Alaska history with us as well as some tidbits about Delta Junction.

Our YouTube video shows pictures along the way as well as some video footage of the Alaska Highway. Enjoy!

Coming soon … Dog sledding with actual Iditarod Race mushers and the Dalton Highway (from the Ice Road Truckers fame)…

Installment 2 – Banff National Park, the Icefields Parkway, and Jasper National Park

Installment 1 – Alaska Roadtrip (through North Dakota and Montana to Canada Border)