The Ultimate Road Trip
START PLANNING YOUR DRIVE NORTH TO ALASKA
START PLANNING YOUR DRIVE NORTH TO ALASKA
Are you ready to embark on the Ultimate Road Trip? Driving to Alaska through Canada offers unparalleled scenery, national parks to explore, activities for every level of adventurer, and opportunities to learn about Canada and Alaska’s Indigenous cultures. Nothing satisfies the desire for adventure like hitting the open road, stopping whenever you want to experience new places and take in the views. In Western Canada and Alaska, vast landscapes of mountains, dense forests, braided rivers, glaciers, tundra, and turquoise lakes are home to abundant wildlife including moose, bears, wolves, and bald eagles.
It’s not just the scenery and wildlife that makes this trip so special. You’ll find colorful towns and villages both large and small populated by warm, welcoming locals who love to share their stories and cultures, and discover the arts, customs, and history of First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and Alaska Native peoples. To top it off, your fellow travelers – the people you meet in the campgrounds, roadhouses, lodges, and restaurants – will become your adventure cohort, sharing stories and experiences along the way.
Take your time on one of the three main routes and savor the journey. Whether you choose the Inside Passage Route, Gold Rush Route, or Rockies Route, you are in for an adventure of a lifetime on your drive North to Alaska.
ALASKA HIGHWAY UPDATE, JULY 7, 2022: The Alaska Highway is open. Due to a washout on the Alaska Highway in northern BC near the BC/Yukon border, the Alaska Highway is currently open to single-lane alternating traffic with a pilot car at Contact Creek, at km 900 for southbound traffic leaving Watson Lake and km 897 for northbound traffic leaving Fort Nelson. This is expected to last several weeks, until the road is repaired. Please visit drivebc.ca for latest updates (look for updates on Highway 97).
Maps & Routes
Embark on the Ultimate Road Trip to Alaska via Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon. Use the below routes as a guideline to start planning your trip.
Combine land and sea adventures on the Inside Passage Route, exploring port towns and scenic coastline in British Columbia and Alaska’s Inside Passage by ferry before continuing north to Alaska on the Cassiar and Alaska Highways.
Starting in Seattle, WA or Vancouver, BC, the Gold Rush Route journeys through beautiful and remote landscapes in British Columbia and the Yukon via the Cassiar, Alaska, and Klondike Highways before exploring Interior Alaska, including Denali National Park.
Follow the stunning Canadian Rockies through Alberta and British Columbia on the Rocky Mountain route and then travel the entire length of the Alaska Highway - from “Mile 0” in Dawson Creek, BC through the Yukon’s endless vistas to Delta Junction, Alaska.
Read our frequently asked questions about driving to Alaska through Canada, including US/Canadian border crossing, driving tips, road conditions, driving the Alaska Highway in winter, and more.
What do I need to know about crossing the US/Canadian border?
The easiest way to cross the U.S./Canadian Border is with a government-issued passport. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website and Canadian Border Services Agency website for additional information.
- Download the ArriveCAN app to add your travel information within 72 hours of arriving in Canada.
- Persons under 18 not accompanied by both parents must carry a letter from their legal guardian and/or the other parent granting permission to travel to Canada.
- Be prepared to show proof of insurance and vehicle registration or rental papers.
- Dogs and cats may be transported through Canada as long as you have proof of current rabies vaccination. A health certificate is also recommended, as it may be required by U.S. border officials when entering from Canada.
- You may not be able to enter Canada if you have a criminal record (this includes DUIs).
- Currency exchange rates vary, and keep in mind that Canadian money includes not only bank notes but coins (known as loonies and toonies) that are worth $1 and $2 Canadian. You can check with your local bank or call 1-800-303-1282 for current exchange rates.
What are the current COVID-19 Travel Requirements?
The U.S./Canadian border is currently open to fully-vaccinated United States citizens and international travelers. US citizens are allowed to cross the border if they have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entry. Please see the Government of Canada's COVID-19 travel page for instructions on how to provide proof of vaccination, plus additional information on traveling to/through Canada. Please note that Canadian border patrol agents reserve the right to deny entry if they feel that travelers are not following regulations.
The U.S. border is open to fully-vaccinated international travelers for non-essential travel with proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security FAQ page for more information.
Do you have any driving tips?
The Alaska Highway is well-maintained. However, be aware that some areas are narrow and winding, and if you choose to travel the Cassiar Highway out of British Columbia, there are a few short sections that are unpaved. Ongoing road maintenance in the summer months is almost a given.
As with any kind of travel, being prepared is important. Make sure you have a general emergency kit with you, as well as a small can of extra gasoline.
If you decide to travel in early spring or late fall, a set of chains is not a bad idea. Snow during these times of year is not unheard of, and can make for sometimes difficult road conditions. Cell phone service has improved but remains intermittent throughout many areas of the highway.
- Alaska and Canada will honor a valid driver’s license from any state or country for 90 days after entry.
- Seat belts must be worn by all drivers and passengers while driving anywhere in Alaska, Yukon, BC, and Alberta.
- All children under the age of four, regardless of weight, must ride in a federally approved child safety seat while traveling through Alaska. Canada requires safety seats for all children under the age of eight, or children weighing less than 80 lbs (36kg).
- Turn your headlights on when driving the highway.
- Watch carefully for wildlife, especially at night. Wildlife has the right-of-way in Alaska and Canada.
- In Canada, fuel is sold by liters using Canadian currency and distance is measured in kilometers.
Alaska and Western Canada are in different time zones. Alaska is one hour earlier than British Columbia and the Yukon and two hours earlier than Alberta.
Are the roads paved and where can I find information on road conditions?
The main roads along all three of the routes are paved and maintained, suitable for cars, RVs, and motorcycles. Along the way you may encounter sections of older pavement or road construction, with possible minimal delays. Some sections of road are narrow and winding, particularly those in high mountain passes. The Cassair Highway has a few short graveled sections, and the Taylor and Top of the World Highways have long graveled sections.
For road conditions and information, visit the below websites:
When is the best time to go? Can I drive to Alaska in winter?
The best driving conditions, most hours of daylight, best chances of seeing wildlife, and most visitor services can be found along the route from May through September. However, visitors can have a fun and safe drive along the Alaska Highway year-round with a little extra caution and advance planning.
While roads are less busy in winter, conditions can be icy and snowy along the route, especially in the Yukon and Interior Alaska. Be sure to give yourself extra time for weather and icy road conditions. Studded tires are recommended, and winter tires are required in British Columbia from October 1 – March 31.
Some visitor services like lodges, stores, and activities are not open in winter. Before your trip, be sure to check which services are open year-round and have a back-up plan for accommodations if you have to wait out bad weather. Extreme cold temperatures are common in winter so be prepared with emergency cold weather gear in case you encounter any car troubles. Fuel up on gas as often as possible as some gas stations have limited hours in winter.
Are there many places to stop for gas, food, or lodging along the way?
Along the highways, you’ll come across gas stations, shops, service stations, restaurants, and accommodations every 25 to 50 miles (40-80 km). Most services are open year round, though some do close for winter. If traveling in winter, be sure to check with specific locations to confirm if they will be open. There is also an abundance of camping along the way at commercial and government locations. We recommend calling ahead for reservations at campgrounds and accommodations if they are available.
How long does it take?
How long it takes to complete the trip depends entirely on you. While you can make the drive in as little as a few days, we recommend scheduling a week to 10 days each way. With all there is to see and do, you could easily take longer.
What should I pack?
Weather can change quickly, so be sure to pack lots of layers. Generally, expect warm days in the spring and summer, with cooler evenings. In the summer, temperatures can be as high as 95°F (35°C) during the day and drop to 35°F (2°C) at night, depending on your location. Remember to bring your rain gear as well as a lightweight, lined jacket and light hat and gloves. Clothing with a “wicking” ability that pulls sweat away from the skin is a good choice, and fleece clothing will dry quickly while providing warmth. Sturdy hiking shoes in addition to walking shoes are also important. If you're traveling in winter, be sure to pack emergency cold weather gear in case you encounter any car troubles.
Being prepared is important. Make sure you have an emergency kit with you, and check your car jack, jumper cables, and other general auto-repair supplies to make sure everything is packed and working properly. If you decide to travel outside of summer, a set of snow tires is not a bad idea.
I am going on a hunting trip to Alaska. Do you have any firearms information?
American adults 18+ may take non-prohibited firearms (rifles and shotguns) into Canada for lawful purposes. Firearms must be declared on a special form and a fee of $25 Canadian is charged. Depending on the model, some guns are either banned or require additional paperwork. Declaration forms can be downloaded online and it's a good idea to fill them out before you reach the border. U.S. customs officials will want to see that paperwork on the way back into the U.S. For more information, visit the Canadian Border Patrol Agency's website.
Canadians wishing to bring guns into the U.S. must fill out a form ahead of time and get a hunting license for the state where they are going. In Alaska, firearms may be carried for personal protection and for hunting with the appropriate license and tags.
If traveling by air, you must declare your firearm at the ticket counter and check it as luggage. Ammunition may be checked as well, but no hollow-point ammo is allowed.
Unloaded rifles may be sent via the U.S. Postal Service with a federal firearms license. Check with your local post office for full details. Handguns or ammunition may not be mailed.
Is there cell service?
Cell service can be intermittent or nonexistent in many remote areas along the routes, although in cities most towns, you can expect good service. WiFi is available at many hotels and motels along the way, as well as at some visitor centers, libraries, and coffee shops/cafes. Before you travel, check with your phone company about roaming or international cell and data plans to avoid unexpected overages. Check rules regarding use of cell phones while driving. Each province/state has its own regulations.