The Alaska Highway 12 Day Trip Itinerary [Part 1]

Here was the premise: Pack our two kids (ages 2 and 5) into our 2008 Toyota Tundra and begin a 3,700 mile trip from Seattle up to Alaska.

Alcan 2016 Overview Map jpeg

We headed north through British Columbia until we hit Dawson Creek, the historic start of the famed Alaska Highway. Later, we continued driving northeast into Alaska, stopping in Fairbanks briefly before joining the Dalton Highway, the stretch of road that follows the Alaska (oil) Pipeline up to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay. Following our foray into the Arctic, we turned around and headed due south, ending our journey in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage.

Due to work limitations, we couldn’t extend the duration of our trip beyond 12 days so we chopped off a few segments, like a side trip up through Dawson City and a tour in Denali. Also, we drove through the night on our first night, essentially starting our journey in Dawson Creek. Worth it? Maybe. The kids slept straight through the night and we essentially began the first day of our trip with 800 miles under our belt. We hit the coffee hard for the next few days.

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Start of the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek, BC

Trip Details
Date of Trip: August  2016
Days: 12 (one way)
Departure: Seattle, Washington, USA
Arrival: Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Total driving distance: 3,700 miles
Accommodations: Campgrounds, boondocking, and homestays (with relatives)
Vehicle: Toyota Tundra Pickup with FourWheelCamper (truck camper)
Route: We headed north in British Columbia, hitting Dawson Creek & Liard River before entering Yukon (Watson Lake, Whitehorse, & Kluane Lake), and then into Alaska (Fairbanks, Pruhoe Bay, Anchorage)
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Muncho Lake, BC

Trip Itinerary

The Alaska Canada (Alcan) Highway (Seattle to Fairbanks)

Day 1: Lower British Columbia, Canada 
Drive: Seattle, WA to Dawson Creek, BC. 808 really long miles. 13 hr 46 minutes. Don’t do this.

Day 2: Dawson Creek, BC
Drive: Dawson Creek to Duhu Lake. 157 miles. 3 hours.
Stay: Duhu Lake Recreation Site. Some noise from nearby fuel trucks. Free.
Activities: Alaska Highway Sign

Day 3: Liard River Hot Springs, BC
Drive: Duhu Lake to Liard River Hot Springs. 323 miles. 6 hours.
Stay: Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park. Reservations required. $24 CAD. Highly recommended.
Activities: Hiking/picnicking near Muncho Lake. Hot Springs.

Day 4: Teslin, Yukon Territory
Drive: Liard River Hot Springs to Teslin. 300 miles. 6 hours.
Stay: We boondocked near Teslin Lake. Mosquito heaven. Not recommended.
Activities: Watson Lake Signpost Village

Day 5: Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory
Drive: Teslin to Kluane National Park. 271 miles. 4 hours 30 minutes.
Stay: Congdon Creek Campground, Kluane NP. Highly recommended. Hard-sided RVs/trailers only (due to bear activity). $16 CAD.
Activities: Whitehorse public playground and spray park. Playground and lake-side nature trail at campground.

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Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory

 

 

Day 6: Delta Junction, Alaska
Drive: Kluane National Park to Deltana. 314 miles. 6 hours.
Stay: Boondocking site at the Gerstle River Bridge, a bit south of Deltana/Delta Junction (63.818924, -144.920052). Free. And lovely.
Activities: None, unless you count the giant ice cream bars we ate at a gas station in Tok.

Day 7: Fairbanks, Alaska
Drive: Deltana to Fairbanks. 124 miles. 2 hours.
Activities: North Pole’s Santa Clause House. Free.
Stay: Fairbanks (We stayed at a relative’s house, so sorry no advice here).

 

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Pipeline near the Brooks Range (on the way to Deadhorse)

 

The Dalton Highway, Alaska (Fairbanks to Deadhorse, AK)

Day 8: Dalton Highway, Alaska – Coldfoot/Gates of the Arctic National Park
Drive:Fairbanks to Coldfoot. 255 miles. 6 hours 30 minutes.
Activities: Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, Dalton Highway Sign (65.496719, -148.686768), Arctic Circle Sign (66.556001, -150.810714)
Stay: Boondocking site north of Coldfoot (in the vicinity of 67.859503, -149.828630). Free. There are lots of sites along the river (and small tributary streams). Just make sure you’re not blocking the pipeline access roads.

Day 9: Dalton Highway, Alaska – Deadhorse
Drive: Coldfoot to Deadhorse. 241 miles. 7 hours 30 minutes.
Activities: Wildlife/vista viewing around Atigun Pass & arctic tundra. Sightsee around Prudhoe. Visit the general store.
Stay: Ugh. We ended up in parking lot of Deadhorse Camp, next to road construction that was going all night long. If you don’t have a vehicle with sleeping accommodations, we heard decent reviews of the Aurora Hotel, although reservations are essential and it’ll run about $170/night for a single. We spoke to one guy staying at Deadhorse Camp and he was transferring to the Aurora for the second night. There is some boondocking available in the last 35 miles before Deadhorse but all those sites were closed (August 16) due to extensive road construction.

Day 10: Dalton Highway, Alaska – Prudhoe Bay + Coldfoot
Drive:Deadhorse to Coldfoot. 241 miles. 7 hours 30 minutes.
Activities: Arctic Ocean Shuttle to Prudhoe Bay/Arctic Ocean. May-September. $69/person (no discount for children). At least 24 hour advance reservation required (for security clearance. They’ll need your passport information)
Stay: Boondocking spot a few miles south of Coldfoot. There are lots of access roads and quarries to camp if you’re in a self-sufficient vehicle. Very peaceful.

Day 11: Dalton Highway, Alaska – Fairbanks
Drive: Coldfoot to Fairbanks. 255 miles. 6 hours 30 minutes.
Stay: Fairbanks (We stayed at a relative’s house, so sorry no advice here).

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Mama Moose

 

The Parks Highway (Fairbanks to Anchorage)

Day 12: George Parks Highway (AK-3), Alaska – Anchorage
Drive: Fairbanks to Anchorage. 361 miles. 6 hours.
Activities: Denali National Park bus tour. Reindeer Farm. Musk Ox Farm. Hatcher Pass.
Eat: Turkey Red (B,L,D). $$
Stay: Nancy Lake Recreation Area or Anchorage (We stayed at a relative’s house, so sorry no advice here).

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Boondocking near Coldfoot on the Dalton Highway

I tacked on a few additional days in Anchorage to visit relatives while Ben and Chris flew back down to Seattle for school and work. We love Anchorage and have lots of kid-friendly activity recommendations.

Days 13-18:  Anchorage
Fly: (Day 18) Anchorage to Seattle
Activities: Lots! See full post.
Stay:  Anchorage (We stayed at a relative’s house, so sorry no advice here).

 

Note: This travel post is part of a 12-day trip that departed from Seattle and included Canada, Fairbanks, and Deadhorse, before ending in Anchorage, Alaska. Our kids were ages 2 and 5.
Next –> Part 2: Driving the Alcan (Seattle to Fairbanks)
Part 3: Driving the Dalton Highway (Deadhorse + Prudhoe Bay)
Part 4: Driving the Parks Highway (Fairbanks to Anchorage)

Related: Child friendly activities in Anchorage


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