Call it the Alcan or the Alaska Highway, this 1,422-mile stretch of roadway winds through some of the most pristine wilderness areas in the United States and Canada. Built by the military during World War II, it begins at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and officially ends at Delta Junction, Alaska. Motels are available in these two towns as well as a few spots in between.
Dawson Creek, British Columbia
Dawson Creek is Mile Zero on the Alaska Highway. In case you forget that fact, the oversized marker and sign at the edge of town will remind you. It is one of the most photographed spots in town, along with the vintage grain elevator that houses the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. You'll find name brand motels here, such as Comfort Inn and Ramada, but you'll also come across locally owned properties such as the George Dawson Inn and the Central Motel and RV Park. The George Dawson offers walking tours throughout town. The latter property gives you the choice of camping or staying in a modest motel room. Most properties are along the Alaska Highway, Route 97, or the connector road, Route 2, which originates in Alberta.
Fort Nelson, British Columbia
The next town north is Fort Nelson, British Columbia, where the Alaska Highway runs right through the center of town. The motels, many of them familiar name brands, are clustered around the roadway. One locally owned property, the Woodlands Inn & Suites, caters more to business travelers, but does have handy kitchenette units. If you happen to be traveling with your significant other, Woodlands Inn has Romance Suites, complete with in-room jetted tubs. For something more modest, try the Shannon Motel on the northern end of town. The giant 1960s-era motel sign makes it hard to miss. If you want to do a bit of wildlife watching, visit the Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park, just on the edge of town.
Watson Lake, Yukon Territory
The town of Watson Lake exists because of World War II. In a cooperative effort, the Canadian and United States governments set up a chain of military airfields throughout the Northwest, all coordinated with the construction and maintenance of the Alaska Highway. What was the pilots' barracks is now the Historic Air Force Lodge. The building was moved from the airport into town and eventually converted to a rustically furnished motel with a definite aeronautical theme. Another option is simply called A Nice Motel. Each room has a kitchenette and the latest in electronic gadgets, including HD satellite service. Both properties are right off the Alaska Highway.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
The city of Whitehorse, now the capital of the Yukon Territory, started with the Klondike gold rush. The name comes from the white-water rapids that the miners thought looked like manes of galloping white horses. Today, those rapids still attract white-water rapid enthusiasts eager to challenge those "horses." The Airport Chalet is one motel on the Alaska Highway, right next to the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport. Look for the permanently mounted DC-3 airplane across the street. Most motels and hotels are in the downtown core, a few blocks east of the highway. You'll find well known chains such as Best Western and Canada's Best Value Inn. A few mom-and-pop inns are still going strong, such as the Stop In Family Hotel and the Yukon Inn, both modestly priced.
Delta Junction, Alaska
Delta Junction, Alaska, is the official end of the Alaska Highway. Residents of Fairbanks, Alaska, sometimes dispute that fact, even though the Richardson Highway covers the remaining 98 miles from Delta Junction. Properties in Delta Junction are decidedly rustic, with names like the Silver Fox Roadhouse and Kelly's Alaska Country Inn. The Silver Fox has a series of individual cabins. The latter property is a family-run inn that's been in business since 1934. What started as a telegraph station in 1904 is now a magnet for salmon fishermen and hunters. Nearby parks include the Big Delta State Historical Park, known for its population of buffalo and as a migratory stopover for the sandhill crane.
- Bell's Travel Guides: Driving the Alaskan Highway
- Aurora Park Inn & Suites: Dawson Creek
- Central Motel and RV Park
- Welcome to the George Dawson Inn
- Woodlands Inn & Suites: Woodlands Inn & Suites Elegant Guest Rooms
- Shannon Motel
- A Nice Motel, Watson Lake, Yukon
- Historic Air Force Lodge: Welcome to the Historic Air Force Lodge, Watson Lake, Yukon
- Yukon Inn, "Your Home Away From Home"
- Stop In Family Hotel
- Photo Credit Kenneth_A_Meisner/iStock/Getty Images