During the summer of 2001, Anne & I drove to Alaska and back on the famous Alaska Highway, formerly known as the Alcan Highway. We drove our "new" Ford F-350 Lariat Super Duty SuperCab 4X4 pickup with an Arctic Fox A990 camper. Our friends, Don & LaBurta, drove their 37 foot Tradewind motor home, towing their Saab behind. We often referred to the Tradewind as the "Mother Ship" and the Saab became our "Excursion Vehicle", taking us on several trips to wonderful places where we did not have to take the bigger vehicles. The Saab always went where it was towed to go.
We left Seattle on May 21, 2001 and returned on June 30, 2001, having covered about 7300 miles. Along the way, we sent several e-mails to friends relating our adventure as we experienced it, including some pictures taken with Don & LaBurta's digital camera. Those e-mails became a trip journal which is included here as are links to the pictures we sent with the e-mails.
Our truck has the 6.8 Liter Electronic Fuel Injection Triton V10 engine with electronic four-speed automatic over drive transmission and we experienced just over 10.3 mpg for the duration of the trip. The truck was fully loaded as the weights of camper and gear were pushing the design gross weight for the vehicle. Gasoline prices varied widely from as low as $1.50 per gallon to as much as $2.42 per gallon, both prices quoted in US dollars. Gasoline was readily available along the way as were all other essential services. There were a few places where it was many miles between services but those occasions were well marked and we were always aware of where we could purchase fuel.
Our constant companion and essential reference on our journey was the Milepost, a trip planner for Alaska, Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Alberta & Northwest Territories. It is published by Morris and has been in print since 1949. It contains all the information a traveler to the North should have.
While the highways of the north may have numbers, they are invariably referred to by name. Our journey started on what is called the West Access Route. We departed Seattle on Interstate-5 which took us north into Canada. We then picked up the Trans-Canada Highway 1 which we followed to Cache Creek, BC. There we picked up BC Provincial Highway 97, which took us to Dawson Creek, BC where the Alaska Highway begins at Milepost Zero. Dawson Creek is right on the British Columbia/Alberta border.
From Dawson Creek we turned west on the Alaska Highway which at this point is also known as BC 97. We went through Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake, Liard River and Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. Starting at Watson Lake, the Alaska Highway is Yukon Highway 1. In the vicinity of Watson Lake, the highway goes back and forth between BC and YT several times. We continued on through Teslin to Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon Territory.
Our first encounter with Alaska was a side trip that we took from Whitehorse. We headed south to Skagway, Alaska. Skagway is reknowned as the destination of many hopeful miners, headed for northern gold fields during the Klondike Gold Rush. While in Skagway, we took a ride on the fabulous White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, going from Skagway up to White Pass Summit that is the border between the US and Canada. There was much snow and beautiful scenery. We returned to Whitehorse and then proceeded on to Haines Junction, Kluane Lake, Beaver Creek and Port Alcan which is on the border between Alaska and YT. Beaver Creek is the westernmost community in all of Canada.
Now the Alaska Highway became Alaska Route 2 which we followed to Tok, AK.
At Tok, we left the Alaska Highway and turned westerly on the Glenn Highway/Tok Cutoff, Alaska Route 1. We followed AK 1 to Glennallen where we picked up Alaska Route 4, the Richardson Highway, which took us to Valdez. Valdez has the terminus for the famous Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a 800 odd mile marvel of engineering.
From Valdez we had to backtrack to Glennallen where we once again turned west following AK 1. This route took us through Palmer to Anchorage.
From Anchorage, we turned south following the Seward Highway, Alaska Route 1, "down" into the Kenai Peninsula. Half of the population of Alaska lives on the Kenai. We left the Seward Highway at Tern Lake Junction and took the westerly route, the Sterling Highway, still on AK 1. Our destination was the small town of Ninilchik, located on beautiful Cook Inlet. We stayed in Ninilchik for several days.
From our Ninilchik base, we visited Homer and Seward, home of Kenai Fjords National Park.
Leaving Ninilchik, once again, we headed north back to Anchorage. There we picked up the Parks Highway, Alaska Route 3. The Parks Highway took us through Wasila, Talkeetna, past Mt. McKinley or Denali, through Cantwell, Nenana, to Fairbanks.
From Fairbanks, we took a number of trips, one of them to Chena Hot Springs.
We Left Anchorage, taking the Richardson Highway, AK 2. This route took us through North Pole (yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!) to Delta Junction, the end of the Alaska Highway at Historical Milepost 1422. Now we were back on the Alaska Highway again, headed towards Tok. This was the only stretch of the Alaska Highway that we had missed headed north. From Tok, we backtracked to Haines Junction, YT. Since we hadn't seen enough of Alaska, we turned south once again. We followed the Haines Highway to Haines, AK. The Haines Highway goes through YT, BC and into Alaska and consists of Yukon Route 3, BC Route 4 and Alaska Route 7 in a distance of 152 miles. This section of road had one stretch where gas stations were about 100 miles apart.
We left Haines, we heading north back to Haines Junction, YT. Now we followed the Alaska Highway back to its beginning at Dawson Creek, BC
From Dawson Creek, we entered Alberta, taking Alberta Route 49, the Northern Woods & Water Route, east to AB 40. AB 40 is known as the Big Horn Highway, and we took this route through Grande Prairie, Grande Cache, and Hinton. At Hinton, we turned southwest on Trans-Provincial Highway 16 to Jasper National Park.
Out of Jasper, we took AB 93, the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. We then proceeded on to Banff where we stayed a couiple of days. From there it ws a short trip to Calgary.
We now turned south on Route 2A, headed for the States. Our destination, Great Falls, Montana for a visit with Don & LaBurta's grandkids. After three days in Great Falls we followed I-15 to Helena where we picked up I-90 headed west towards Washington. We saw much beautiful country as we passed through Western Montana. Once we we reached Idaho we had an easy five hour drive home to Seattle.
We hope that any readers have found this trip report interesting, if not useful to some who may take a similar trip themselves. We had a fantastic time and are eagerly looking forward to doing it again.
REDFOOT Home Page
November 28, 2001