This is post #4 in a 5-post series on our Drive to Alaska! Check out the other Days here:
Day 1 – Colorado to Montana
Day 2 – The Most Scenic: Banff, Lake Louise & the Icefields Parkway
Day 3 – Logging, Big Trucks & Long Roads
Day 4 – Crossing the Canadian Rockies & Arriving in the Yukon
Day 5 – Arriving in Alaska!
I had no idea how good it would feel to be on Day 5 of our journey.
You know how they say it’s not just about the destination, but the journey, too? I agree and all, but after 40+ hours of sitting on your arse, with few breaks in between, sometimes you’re just ready for the journey to be done.
And so needless to say, by Day 5 I was more than ready to be there already.
Sunrise in Whitehorse
I loved our morning view. This is what we saw when we woke up:
This is the kind of view I could get used to in the morning.
But there was no dilly-dallying today. It was time to get a move on. We loaded up the car and set off on our last leg. Whooot!
Most of the day we were spoiled with great views. It was kinda like Day 2 in Banff and driving along the Icefields Parkway.
I’ll just let the scenery speak for itself.
Day 5 Stats
Total Drive Time: 11.5 hours
Total Miles Driven: 750
Closing Thoughts on Driving to Alaska
I had mixed feelings on doing this drive to Alaska in the early Spring. Would the roads be passable? Would we be stranded in the middle of nowhere in -50 degree weather? Would it be dark?
Thankfully, all my worrying was unfounded.
I was seriously impressed with the conditions of the roads. Almost every mile was fully paved and there were only a few somewhat iffy spots where the pavement was out and potholes were more common. I would even say that the roads were in better shape than many you’d find in a major city.
You don’t want a lot of traffic because passing on a 2-lane highway can be a real pain. Especially if the line of cars is deep. But on the flip side, you also don’t want it completely deserted so that in an emergency you’d have to wait hours before seeing another car.
There was a good mix of traffic – not too light, not too heavy. Very just right – at least traveling North. Might’ve been a fluke, but I couldn’t believe how much lighter traffic was heading North than heading South.
March can be a sketchy time to travel. In many places, it’s one of the snowiest months of the year.
We initially planned to head up in the beginning of March, but kept pushing our departure date back due to other trips around the US. I’m thankful we did. There were times we checked out the temperatures in Tok and they were getting highs around 11° Fahrenheit and lows as cold as -31°. YIKES!
Other than the blizzard Denver got the day we were supposed to leave (better delayed in Denver than any other city, I suppose), we had excellent weather. We even got daytime temperatures as warm as about 50° in the middle of northern Canada. Not too shabby.
The coldest I think it got was about -9° in Whitehorse. That wasn’t much fun.
On the bright side (literally) we had a lot of light. The difference in daylight in Anchorage from the beginning of March as compared to the end of March was substantial. We gained almost 3 hours just by waiting a few weeks. That was really helpful since we were on the road until 8 or 9pm some nights and it was just getting dark.
Because we were traveling with our dog, Nani, we were pretty limited on where we could stay. When I was planning the drive, I made sure all of the places we stayed allowed dogs. They weren’t all that hard to find, but at the same time some of the more highly-rated hotels didn’t allow dogs.
Overall, the quality of the pet-friendly rooms was fine and in most cases seemed like a normal room (as opposed to the stinkier rooms where you can totally tell pets are allowed).
I will say, though, that in smaller towns where there aren’t a whole lot of options, you’ll definitely be paying more. We were off-season, but when the choices are slim you’re probably gonna pay more than a similar hotel would cost in a city.
I think we averaged about $125/night, including the extra pet fee (which ranged any where from $5-20/night for our 1 dog).
The Border Crossings & Pet Documentation
We didn’t know what to expect for the border crossing. We worried there was a chance they’d take everything out of the car and we’d have to find a way to fit it all back in. Luckily, both going into Canada and back into the US was a breeze.
As far as bringing our dog into Canada, I initially thought we’d have to get a health certificate in addition to the Rabies document. That was not the case.
There are a ton of websites that say you need to have a health certificate for your dog if you’re crossing the border into Canada, but I made a lot of calls to different border crossings and they all confirmed that when crossing overland (by car) with your dog who’s over 8 months old, all you need is a signed rabies vaccination that is up-to-date. (There are different requirements if you’re flying.)
As far as the health certificate is concerned, here’s the wording from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website:
“Only dogs less than eight (8) months of age that are not accompanied by their owners require a signed veterinary certificate of health.”
Read more here:
I would’ve preferred we do this drive in the summer, or at least late Spring. And had we gone when it was warmer, we might’ve taken a bit more time.
But Tristan wanted to get up to AK to get some heliskiing in before the season was over, so early Spring it was.
We debated taking a longer time to do the drive even though it would be cold, but in the end decided to drive fairly long days so that we could get it done in 5.
The long days didn’t actually feel so long until the 5th day. And by then we were sooo ready just to be in Alaska. I think 5 days was a good pace for us.
The Total Time + Mileage
Drive Time (including stops): 54.5 hours (estimated with online maps to be 60)
Miles Driven: 3,250
When we leave Alaska, which will likely be some time next year, we hope to take the Marine Highway down the panhandle of Alaska to Vancouver or Seattle. Since most of the towns along the coast aren’t accessible by car, Alaska has a ferry that substitutes as a road to those places. Though I have been on an Alaskan cruise out of Vancouver, I’m super excited to do the reverse trip.
But until then, it’s time to enjoy Alaska!