North to Alaska - Choose Your Own Adventure
Driving north to Alaska is a lot like one of those old-fashioned “choose your own adventure” books. No matter what you want to find along the road, there’s a story waiting to be experienced!
Whether you’re an adventure seeker, history buff, wildlife lover, or student of culture, you can plot your course along the highways of western Canada and Alaska to seek out the attractions and stops that best align with your passions.
We’ve outlined a few ideas suited to various interests to give you an idea of the adventures that await! You can find these stops along North to Alaska’s Inside Passage, Gold Rush, and Rockies driving routes.
Are you a history buff? Make sure to set your GPS to:
The MacBride Museum in Whitehorse was founded by the Yukon Historical Society to preserve the rich history and culture of the Yukon. As the region’s first museum, it showcases various artifacts from Indigenous history and is home to one of the most extensive wildlife exhibits in the area. Carrying over 40,000 pieces, visitors are instantly immersed in the many pivotal moments and stories that have contributed to making the Yukon what it is today.
As the home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other province in Canada, Alberta is full of places that have shaped it’s history. These iconic spots, designated for preservation due to their significance to Alberta’s history and culture, are a must to add to your Alberta itinerary. Along the highways, you’ll find two of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks – Banff and Jasper.
Visit Skagway for a taste of Alaska’s Klondike Gold Rush past. The historic downtown is full of restored buildings (stores, saloons, and public buildings) that tell the stories of the town’s most memorable gold prospectors. Take a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad to get a sense of the breathtaking terrain they traversed in search of gold.
Travel back in time when you visit the historic town of Barkerville in British Columbia. Located on the territories of the Dakelh (Carrier) and Secwépemc (Shuswap) Peoples, Barkerville is considered to be the “largest living history museum in western North America.” Comprised of over 125 historical buildings, museums, restaurants, shops, and more, this town explores the exciting history of region’s gold rush beginnings.
Barkerville, British Columbia. Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia
Are you a wildlife lover? Make stops here:
Home to over 150 different animals, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve is the place to be to catch a glimpse of some of the most diverse wildlife found in the country. Spanning across 350 acres of land, the preserve offers experiences such as a guided bus tour or self-guided walking tour. Keep your eyes peeled as you watch for various animals such as the wood bison, thinhorn sheep, Arctic fox, elk, moose, and more.
Take a trip on the wild side in Alberta’s Jasper National Park with Maligne Adventures. This three-hour experience is a great way to increase your chances of seeing some of the most incredible wild animals found in Alberta. From the larger-than-life grizzly bear to elusive lynx and the humble beaver, their national and provincial park systems protect nearly 600 species of animals that your local guide can introduce you to.
If you’re looking for a chance to see whales in their natural habitat, be sure to go whale watching while in Juneau, Alaska. Several tour operators here will not only get you out on the water for an up-close view of these majestic creatures, but you’ll also have the opportunity to check out the sea lions, seals, and other marine animals along the way.
Travelers wanting to unwind after a long day on the road in British Columbia will enjoy their time at Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park. Home to about 150 bighorn sheep that can be spotted roaming the forests, this hot spring gives you an opportunity to relax as you look out for various animals such as deer, elk, bald eagles, turkey, and more.
Grizzly Bear at Jasper National Park. Photo Credit: Jeff Bartlett, @photojbartlett
Are you an adventure seeker? Make plans in these destinations:
Take a thrilling ride in the sky on an unforgettable flightseeing adventure with Icefield Discovery over Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory. Choose from three different touring options, all curated to provide an awe-inspiring journey for each guest. Embark on an adventure like never before as you soar through the clouds, witnessing the majestic peaks of mountains such as Mt. Logan, Mt. St. Elias, and more.
In Alberta, trade your vehicle for a bike to get some of the best views. The 17-mile Banff Legacy Trail connects the alpine towns of Banff and Canmore. The trail is comfortably separated from the highway and takes two to four hours round-trip, depending on how much time you spend wildlife spotting and glacier gawking.
Stand atop the highest suspension bridge in Canada, over 400 feet above the valley floor, at the Golden Skybridge near Lake Louise. Not only are you guaranteed fantastic views of the Rocky and Purcell Mountain ranges, but there are also plenty of thrilling activities that will make your adventurer heart soar. You can take a ride through the forest on their Railrider Mountain Coaster, test your skills at the Canyon Edge Challenge Course, or even sail 500 feet in the air on their 1,000-foot zipline across the canyon.
In Alaska, be sure to visit the largest glacier in the U.S. accessibly by vehicle, the seven-mile Matanuska Glacier. An easy stop along the Glenn Highway, this glacier is one of the most popular roadside attractions between Anchorage and Glenallen. Several tour companies offer glacier trekking tours so you can safely hike across the frozen blue river.
Flightseeing in Yukon. Photo Credit: Government of Yukon
Are you a student of culture? Learn more in person here:
At the National Music Centre in Calgary, dive into Canada’s musical heritage as you explore five floors of exhibitions, engage in in educational programs, and listen to the many sounds that tell the stories of the music in Canada. Featuring a curated selection of over 2,000 pieces spanning 450 years, the collection housed throughout Studio Bell at the National Music Centre celebrates “the love, sharing, and understanding of music.”
In Ketchikan, Alaska, you’ll want to take a trip to Totem Bight State Historical Park to view historic totem poles. Left behind by Alaska Natives in the early 1900s, these totem poles have been salvaged and restored by Tlingit and Haida carvers to tell the stories of the rich history the land was founded on.
For travelers interested in learning more about the First Nations people in the Yukon Territory, make a pit stop in Whitehorse to visit the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. There you will find interpretive programs, a permanent collection featuring work from KDFN Citizens and First Nation artists, and various workshops designed to share the culture and traditions of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation people.
Set aside a day to go wine tasting in South Okanagan region of British Columbia, while also learning about the Indigenous peoples of this area, the Nlaka’pamux, Syilx, and Secwepemc Nations. Visit Indigenous-owned vineyards and restaurants, stop at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, and learn from Secwepemc guides and storytellers at Quaaout Lodge.
Totem Bight State Historical Park. Photo Credit: Travel Alaska