How to Prepare for Driving to Alaska

A drive to Alaska is the adventure of a lifetime for many people. It is a long journey, almost 1100 miles from the border in Washington through Canada to the border of Alaska. From there it is roughly 400 miles to Alaska's largest city, Anchorage. Along the way travelers encounter spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and a vibrant culture. Almost 60,000 people make the drive to Alaska each summer and the vast majority encounter no problems. Proper planning and preparation ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Things You'll Need

  • Travel guide
  • Passport
  • Clothes for a variety of weather conditions
  • Extra food and water
  • First aid kit
  • Spare tire
  • Vehicle parts
  1. Prepare for the Drive.

    • 1
      Have your passport ready at the border.
      Have your passport ready at the border.

      Invest in a good guidebook. The Milepost has been published every year since 1949. The 800 page book covers every mile of the Alaska Highway and highways within the state along with information on wildlife, scenery and activities along the route. The guide containes detailed maps of every area in the state and lists population, climate, radio stations and emergency contact numbers in each community. It's an invaluable tool in planning your itinerary.

      Have your identification ready at the Canada border and again when you cross back into the U.S. Both countries require secure ID such as a passport or NEXUS card.

    • 2

      Pack for a variety of weather conditions. Coastal communities are often wet and windy. Interior Alaska is predominantly hot and dry in the summer. The north may experience cold temperatures and even snow in July.

    • 3

      Bring extra food and water. There are long distances between communities in the Yukon

      and Alaska without any services. The highways occasionally experience mud and rock slides stranding travelers for days. Roads in the north are constantly under repair, so delays are not uncommon. Bring a first aid kit.

    • 4

      Tune up your vehicle before you leave. Carry a spare tire and extra parts like fan belts. Prepare for a long wait if your vehicle breaks down in an isolated area. There is no cell phone service in remote areas. If parts have to be ordered in a small community, it can take days.

    • 5
      Winter driving in Alaska requires extra planning.
      Winter driving in Alaska requires extra planning.

      Take extra precautions if you are driving in the winter. The weather is unpredictable and many of the services that cater to summer tourists are closed. Traffic is sparse and there are few hours of daylight in December and January. The Alaska Department of Highways recommends you be aware of updated weather and road conditions before you travel. Don't travel alone and let someone know when you are expected to arrive. Dress warmly, carry extra food, water and an emergency kit. Make sure your gas tank doesn't go below half full.

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