January 2012

Photo by TravelAlaska.com user
Submitted By: Rick Smith — Glacier calving

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Happy 70th birthday, Alaska Highway!Alaska celebrates the anniversary of one of its most treasured engineering marvels and visitor attractions in 2012: the historic Alaska Highway. Construction workers first broke ground in the Canadian wilderness in 1942, blazing a trail that would eventually link the Lower 48 states of the United States to Alaska. Now in its 70th year, the Alaska Highway - also referred to as the Al-Can (Alaska-Canada) Highway - is traveled by thousands of visitors each year. Stretching from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska, the highway started out as a gravel road where gas stations and hotels were few. Today it is a modern highway steeped in World War II history with impressive scenery and attractions from start to finish. Read on to learn more about the fascinating history and can't-miss sites along the way.


Day 1 Dawson Creek, British Columbia
Set out on one of North America's most epic road trips from Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Stop in at the Alaska Highway House for general visitor information and historic tales from actual construction workers on the road. Spend some time at Mile Zero Rotary Park exploring the Walter Wright Pioneer Village, which depicts the building of the highway and the 1940s era.

Day 2 Fort Nelson, British Columbia
Originally a fur trading post, Fort Nelson prospered with the construction of the Alaska Highway and is now a bustling community of around 4,500 people. Visit the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum for a look at antique car and truck collections, historic buildings and artifacts. Note that this is the last full-service community before reaching Whitehorse, Yukon.

Day 3 Watson Lake, Yukon
Depending on time and preference, explore some of Canada's most scenic watersheds on the way to the community of Watson Lake. Summit Lake at historic milepost 392 is the highest summit along the Alaska Highway at 4,250 feet. Muncho Lake was originally a refueling stop at historical milepost 456 during the construction of the Alaska Highway. Today Muncho Lake Provincial Park and its picturesque surroundings is a favorite destination for Alaska-bound travelers. Upon arrival to the town of Watson Lake, Yukon, head to the Signpost Forest to add your city's sign or license plate to the collection. Spend time at Lucky Lake, a recreation site at the edge of town with the only outdoor waterslide in the Yukon.



A Colorful History

The U.S. Bureau of Public Roads originally considered the idea of a road connecting the Continental United States to Canada and Alaska in the 1920s and 1930s. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the need for greater military presence in the Pacific prompted the United States and Canada to build a road and establish military bases throughout coastal Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Today visitors can get a sense of Alaska’s World War II history through several captivating attractions.

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War Memorial

Scenic Highlights

The Alaska Highway is completely paved (with the exception of a few gravel patches during maintenance projects) and open to travelers year round. The in-depth guidebook “The Milepost” is known as the bible of northern road travel and is a must-have for any navigator on the historic highway. The book offers mile-by-mile guidance on where to stop to take in the pristine beauty of Canada and the Last Frontier along the 1,387-mile route, including places to fish, view wildlife, hike and stock up on supplies.

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Unique Attractions

In addition to breathtaking scenery, the Alaska Highway features a host of remarkable visitor attractions. From historic museums to relaxing hot springs, a trip along the iconic route includes several quirky stops and can’t-miss sites.

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Alaska Highway