September 2012

Photo by user
   Submitted By: Kevin Peterman — Sunny Alaska Scenery

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No matter how long the trip or how much of the state you cover, Alaska is an ideal destination to explore by road. Any one of Alaska's major routes offers scenery that leaves even the most hardened city dweller wide-eyed with amazement. And with the flexibility afforded by independent travel and plentiful rest areas, campgrounds and state and national parks, you'll enjoy the ability to set your own pace and go where your wanderlust leads you. Five of the state's highways were awarded national and state designations as scenic byways, and two – the Seward Highway and the Alaska Marine Highway – were designated All-American Roads, the highest level of recognition available under the National Scenic Byway Program. This means their scenic, historical and cultural values are among the most impressive in the country and sure to produce not only hundreds of photo opportunities but priceless memories to accompany them. Travel by land for access to some Alaska's most popular spots, including Denali National Park and Preserve, legendary salmon fishing on the Kenai Peninsula, hot springs and historic road houses in Interior Alaska and the nation's largest national park – Wrangell-St. Elias. By sea, any one of the 11 ferries on the Alaska Marine Highway System's fleet provides entry to a number of port communities not accessible by the road system. With the option to board the ferry with an RV or car, even the more remote and culturally rich destinations are easily added to any driving itinerary.

Driving to and in Alaska isn't a means to an end – it's simply one more way to enjoy what this beautiful state has to offer, with the flexibility and comfort that driving your own vehicle implies. Hitting the road in Alaska you will find friendly people, paved highways, plenty of public and private campgrounds, scenic waysides and an easy-to–use guidebook that lists all these and more, mile by mile.


Driving from Fairbanks to Valdez

Day 1
Fairbanks is the second-largest city in Alaska, and a great start for your RV trip down the Richardson Highway. Before heading south, spend a few hours touring the city and head 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks on Chena Hot Springs Road to Chena Hot Springs Resort. Soak in the healing waters of the resort’s mineral springs, enjoy a meal and visit the Aurora Ice Museum. Spend the night at one of the 24 marked campsites at the resort and make sure to step outside at night and check for the aurora borealis.

Day 2
Drive back toward Fairbanks to connect with the Richardson Highway. If you have kids in tow, they may enjoy a visit to North Pole on your way out of the Fairbanks area at mile 348.7. Home to many Fairbanks commuters, North Pole is also the official home of Santa Claus and his elves and offers a great photo opportunity by the giant Santa Claus sign. Drive on for another 73 miles and pull off at Rika’s Roadhouse at Mile 275. Built in 1913, Rika’s was one of the original roadhouses along the former Valdez-to-Fairbanks trail and includes a lot of historical information about the area. Continue south to Delta Junction State Recreation Campground at mile 267 of the Richardson Highway. Directly across the highway from the recreation site lays the Delta River. This allows for some spectacular views of the Alaska Range beyond. On a clear day you can see Mount Hayes, one of the tallest mountains of the Alaska Range. Spend the night at the campground and mingle with other like-minded travelers.

Day 3
After enjoying a stroll in the area or a nice breakfast in this beautiful spot, get back in your RV and take in the beauty of the scenic drive south toward...


Driving Alaska

There are many ways for visitors to experience the Last Frontier, but the simplest way to cover the most ground is by driving a car or renting an RV. Public and private campgrounds and recreation sites are strewn throughout the state and provide access to services in most places the roads go. Four major highways and a web of roads stretch out in all directions in Southcentral and Interior Alaska, and the Alaska Marine Highway makes stops in Southcentral, the Inside Passage, the Aleutians and Kodiak Island.

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Alaska Marine Highway

Milepost 101

The bags are packed, the car is loaded, the tank is full – now all that’s left is to make sure you’ve got one of the most essential items for highway travel in Alaska: “The Milepost.” This book includes a mile-by-mile highway log of all the major roads, byways and communities in the state. This is not your typical travel guide, and, at first glance, its size can be slightly intimidating. But with a new application for iPad and Android devices available, whether you choose digital or print, it will undoubtedly take a place of permanence right beside the driver’s seat.

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Alaskan road winding through moutains

Scenic Byways

If traveling at your own pace is not reason enough to hit Alaska’s highways, consider this: five of Alaska’s highways received national and state recognition for the stunning views of towering glaciated mountains, waterways, tundra and alpine meadows that delight travelers along these routes. Alaska’s state and national scenic byways received the designation due to their extraordinary scenic beauty, history and cultural attractions, which means they’re a natural addition to any itinerary. Read on for more on these special routes.

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