This three-day itinerary highlights the best sights and experiences along the road from Fairbanks to Tok, or vice versa. Use it as a scenic add-on to a longer itinerary, or for a quick tour through the rural communities of Tok and Delta Junction as you’re coming or going from Fairbanks.
Day 1 Fairbanks
Fairbanks is Alaska’s second-largest city and the unofficial end of the Alaska Highway—but today, it’ll be the start of your road trip. Get your bearings in the beautiful Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, which includes a theater that shows educational movies, dioramas of local culture and history, and staff on hand to answer your questions. Lots of special events take place in Fairbanks throughout the year, so be sure to check the local calendar.
Pick up some fresh produce or handmade gifts from the local farmer’s markets, try your hand at gold panning with one of several local tour operators, and make a quick,15-mile side trip down the Richardson Highway for stop in North Pole, where you can do some early Christmas shopping at the fantastical Santa Claus house. Wrap the day up with a picnic at pretty 2,100-acre Chena Lakes Recreation Area, then spend the night in one of Fairbanks’s many cozy hotels or B&Bs.
Day 2 Delta Junction
Located about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Delta Junction is the official end of the Alaska Highway, 1,390 miles from its starting point in Dawson Creek, B.C. (The highway has slowly been straightened—and thus shortened—over the years, so the last physical mile marker actually reads 1,422.) On your way into town, stop for a photo at the pillar signifying the end of the highway in front of the visitors center, or with one of the giant mosquito sculptures nearby.
Be sure to stop in at the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum, located across the highway from the visitors center. The roadhouse was originally constructed in 1905 and sat on the Valdez-to-Fairbanks trail that eventually became the Richardson Highway. Today, the museum interprets this history with a variety of artifacts and information about the building’s original owners and life in Alaska at the time.
Before you leave town, take a slight detour and drive another 25 miles southeast on the Richardson Highway to visit the 90,000-acre Delta Bison Sanctuary, where you can see these magnificent beasts roaming free on their home range. Spend the night in one of the cozy lodgings or scenic campgrounds near Delta Junction.
Day 3 Tok
Tok lies another easy 100 miles or so southeast on the Alaska Highway. Because it’s the first substantial community drivers hit after entering Alaska, this former construction camp now serves mostly as a trade and services center for people coming or going via the Alaska-Canada Highway, or “Alcan” to the locals. It is also a trade center for a number of rural communities in the surrounding area. Pay a visit to the enormous Mainstreet Visitors Center for more information about Tok’s history, lively dog-mushing culture and other attractions, then shop for birch baskets, moccasins, boots and beaded jewelry made by local Alaska Native artisans. From here you can continue in several different directions: Head southeast on the Alaska Highway toward the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and the Lower 48, or take the Tok Cutoff southwest toward Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.