Stretching 1,500 jagged, sometimes hair-raising miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska, the Alaska Highway traverses the rugged terrain and stunning scenery of northern Canada's untouched wilderness. Dotted with road-weary travelers, weathered villages and rickety roadside attractions, the highway - known as the Alcan - is a famous route for RV road trips full of caribou, bear and other wildlife.
No one knows this better than Alaska travel writer Tricia Brown, author of The World-Famous Alaska Highway and the former editor of ALASKA magazine. In 2000, after 20 years in Alaska, she left America's northernmost state for Oregon, and now visits Alaska frequently in a Cruise America Alaska RV rental, driving the route to Fairbanks or Anchorage, where she can drop off her RV and fly home.
"If you drive the highway, it just takes a long time," she says. "Quite often, people don't want to drive it both directions." One-way Alaska RV rentals are just one of the many tips Brown has for driving the Alaska Highway. Travel the Alcan with an Alaska RV rental and join us on an adventurous journey to America's Last Frontier.
Just go. If you've always dreamed of traveling the Alcan, don't be afraid of the rugged terrain. Although the road includes hairpin turns and narrow lanes, it's also been improved enough to accommodate your Alaska RV rental. "Because they've straightened many places, it's about 35 miles shorter than it used to be," Brown says. "A lot of RV travelers are worried about gravel, but it's a very comfortable ride. It's mostly all paved now."
Take your time. One of the best parts of traveling the highway is the chance to meander. Whether you start up north and head through the Yukon with your Alaska RV rental or rent in the states and head through Alberta or British Columbia, don't rush, Brown advises. "Those mileposts are worth stopping for."
Have fun. "This is a time for people to get silly," so don't be shy about stopping at roadside attractions on your trip - even if it's as goofy as the life-sized Rambo with a cut-out face in Hope, BC, where the film was made, Brown says. "With or without kids, treat it like it's your own childhood vacation again."
Learn something. "Just delve into that history while you're traveling," Brown says, particularly the highway's past. Built in 1942 as a route for sending troops and supplies to Alaskan military outposts, the highway took just over six months to build - a feat in engineering "in the ranks of the Eiffel Tower and the Panama Canal."
Drumheller, Alberta - Although technically not on the Alcan, Drumheller's Dinosaur Trail is worth a side trip off the eastern route through Montana. More than two dozen dinosaur skeletons were excavated here and are on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. Stop at the visitor's center and climb into the mouth of the two-story dinosaur sculpture and look out over the town.
Dawson Creek, British Columbia - The official start of the Alcan, Dawson Creek is the home of the landmark sign, "You are Now Entering the World Famous Alaska Highway." Stop for a photo op at the vintage sign, and continue on to Mile 0 of the highway.
Watson Lake Signpost Forest, Yukon Territory - In 1942, an Illinois soldier working on the highway's construction placed a single sign from his hometown on a post, and the Signpost Forest was born. "When I drove the highway in 1978, there were probably two dozen posts," Brown says. "In 1999, I couldn't even recognize the place - acres and acres of upright posts with signs from all over the world" - more than 40,000 total.
For more great advice on traveling the Alcan and all of Alaska from Tricia Brown, see all her books and order your Alaska travel guide. With an Alaska RV rental from Cruise America available at more than 130 nationwide locations, you can start your Alaska Highway adventure anywhere you choose.