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Have you ever looked at a map and wondered if you can drive an RV to Alaska from the United States? RVers want to quench their wanderlust thirst, seeing as much of this planet as possible.
But even for the most adventurous RVer, the logistics of a road trip to Alaska can be difficult to manage.
RVing to Alaska is not for the faint of heart. But the scenery and wildlife you will encounter on a trip like this are second-to-none. Few places are more beautiful than Alaska and the wilderness along the routes to get there.
If you have the fortitude, you can drive to Alaska from the United States. While challenging this bucket-list-worthy adventure will be a trip of a lifetime!
Can You Drive an RV to Alaska from the United States?
Yes, you can drive an RV to Alaska from the United States! In fact, driving to Alaska from the lower 48 can be the RV trip of a lifetime. RVs of all categories can all be driven to Alaska.
No matter what camper you drive, you’ll pass through Canada when driving to Alaska from the continental U.S. You’ll need to keep in mind a few things while visiting our “neighbor to the north.”
Canadian highways typically have slower speed limits than American highways. All Canadian speed limits are also in kilometers per hour (kph), not miles.
Similarly, remember that while fueling up in Canada, gasoline is purchased in liters, not gallons. Traffic rules may differ as well.
For instance, in much of Canada, there is no turning right at a red light even if cross-traffic is clear. Be sure to pay close attention to posted signs so you avoid any surprises on your trip.
Do You Need a Passport to Drive to Alaska From the Continental United States?
The documentation you will need before you can drive to Alaska from the continental United States is regulated by the U.S. government and the Canadian government.
The U.S. and Canada both set guidelines about identification rules, COVID-19 precautions, and other entry restrictions.
Be sure to check with both US Customs and Border Protection and the Canadian Border Services Agency. These two agencies will have the current travel guidelines you need to know before embarking on your trip.
What’s the Best Way to Drive to Alaska?
If the northernmost state is now on your RV bucket list, you are probably wondering “what’s the best way to drive to Alaska?” The first thing you must do is plan your trip.
Regardless of the route, driving to Alaska will have you passing through very remote and harsh environments. You may not see another motorist for long stretches of time.
Service stations are few and far between. It’s helpful to have travel companions who can shoulder some of the burdens of the road trip. Help driving, navigating, or even performing roadside maintenance can be invaluable when trekking to Alaska.
RVLifeTripWizard is a great travel companion as well. This site will help plan fuel and overnight stops to fit your timeline and your budget.
It suggests the best points of interest to stop at along the way. RV Life Trip Wizard will also help you plan a route on roads that are all RV-Friendly. You won’t have to worry about ending up on a snowmobile two-track like you might if following standard GPS.
Can You Drive to Alaska in Winter?
Yes, you can drive to Alaska in winter, but should you is another question entirely. The first thing to keep in mind is that winter road conditions in both Canada and Alaska can be extreme. In fact, several roads are not maintained in the winter months because it simply isn’t practical to do so.
It’s also a good idea to check with individual provinces. Local governing authorities will monitor roads, and close them if weather conditions become too hazardous.
Sunlight, or lack-there-of, is also something you need to consider about a winter drive to Alaska. The North Pole experiences total darkness for four entire months each winter.
Although Alaska isn’t the North Pole, it’s close enough to the Arctic Circle that daylight driving hours are very limited in the winter. If driving in the dark is difficult for you, winter driving through Canada and into Alaska will be especially challenging.
How Long Is the Drive to Alaska From the Continental US?
Not everyone can drive to Alaska from the continental U.S. because not everyone has enough time to do so. The road trip to Alaska from the lower 48 is a long one.
Just how long will depend on where you begin your journey. Use RVLifeTripWizard or other trip planners to get a rough estimate of drive time before committing to this RV road trip.
Keep in mind, that these internet estimates assume you are going the speed limit the entire time. As you already know, maintaining top freeway speeds isn’t always possible with an RV due to sway and other issues.
Travel time estimates also don’t account for the time it takes to go through customs at each international border. Don’t forget you should add time for rest and sightseeing stops too.
Most experts advise at least a month to complete a road trip to Alaska. This allows for a one-way trip as well as time for sightseeing along the way.
What You Need to Know Before Driving to Alaska
So what else do you need to know before you can drive to Alaska? Once you’ve researched and prepared for your border crossing concerns, and know what to expect from the Canadian road laws, you’re mostly ready.
Some RVers travel to Alaska on hunting expeditions. If this applies, check with each Canadian province regarding their specific laws pertaining to the transportation of firearms.
Individual U.S. states may have firearm travel rules as well. Alaska, specifically, has its own rules for traveling with firearms. Fortunately, if you have hired an Alaskan hunting guide, they can walk you through the proper firearm procedures. Check to see if your guide rents out hunting equipment and weaponry or where you can do so in the area.
# Top Routes for Driving to Alaska
1. The Alaska-Canada Highway
The Alaska-Canada Highway, also called the ALCAN Highway, was built by the U.S. Army as a supply route during WWII. This highway stretches from Delta Junction, Alaska to Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Its location has made it a popular route for travelers driving to Alaska from the continental U.S.
ALCAN points of interest are plentiful. You can take a dip in Liard River Hot Springs or pay tribute to your hometown at the historic Sign Post Forest.
You’ll want to stop and snap a commemorative selfie at the Continental Divide. Finally, be sure to take the time to soak in the breathtaking beauty of Kluane National Park and Reserve.
2. The Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Spanning from the cities of Kitimat to Terrace, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway is the northwesternmost highway in British Columbia. It’s popular largely because of the gorgeous scenery and historic sites you’ll encounter along this route.
You can stop for a swim in the warm aqua-green water of the Boya Lake Provincial Park. Next, stop and gaze upon the impressive totem poles at the Gitanyow Historical Village.
Be sure to book an overnight stay at the Meziadin Lake Provincial Park. Just 3km up the road from this campground is the Meziadin Fish Ladder. Here you can watch the salmon leap into the air on their annual upstream journey.
3. The Trans-Canada Highway
The Trans-Canada Highway reaches from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and passes through all ten Canadian provinces.
Along this route, you’ll drive through some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. Often equated to America’s historic Route 66, Trans-Canada must-see sites are abundant.
You can relive history at Fort Wilderness, one of the earliest fur trading posts in the Americas. Dinosaur fans will love a visit to the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum and Hoodoos.
Lake Louise is another can’t miss stop along the Trans-Canada Highway. After a hike amidst glaciers and mountains, you’re sure to have a hearty appetite by the time you reach the legendary Teahouse restaurant.
4. Alaska Marine Highway System
The Alaska Marine Highway System runs ferries along the Pacific coastline. Taking a cruise on one of these ferries is another great way to travel from the continental U.S. to Alaska.
The most popular route is from Bellingham, Washington to Whittier, Alaska. The best part is, that most RVs will be able to easily fit on this ferry.
Be sure to book your tickets well in advance to ensure there’s enough deck space for your RV. There are also private cabins you can reserve for yourself at an additional fee.
This ferry route runs every two weeks, and it’s about a 12-hour boat ride. You’ll want to plan accordingly.
RV Camping Magazine subscribers can read about one of our “RV Camping for Newbies” Facebook Group members who traveled from Alaska to the lower 48 for an RV trip across the U.S., in our February 2022 Edition.
Cory and her husband started their journey from Alaska on one of the ferries and shows our readers her amazing experience on the cruise-like ferry. To check out this article, it’s free to subscribe to our monthly digital magazine and you’ll have full access to our back issues!
Can Anyone Drive to Alaska?
Almost everyone can drive to Alaska. The Canadian authorities do have some restrictions regarding non-Canadian citizens passing through their country. Check with the U.S. and Canadian Border Agencies for the most up-to-date Canadian inadmissibility criteria and U.S. CBP FAQ.
When determining if you can drive to Alaska from the United States, you should ask yourself if such a journey would be safe for you? Along certain sections of the route to Alaska, you’ll be hours from the nearest hospitals and first responders. Consider if anyone in your travel party has health conditions that could be problematic on such a remote trip.
Best Time of Year to Visit Alaska
Once you’ve determined that you can drive to Alaska from the U.S., you may be wondering when’s the best time to visit Alaska? We already established that weather conditions and reduced daylight hours make wintertime a treacherous time to drive to Alaska.
These same winter hazards also mean that construction along the route to Alaska must be completed in the summer months. As a result, expect to encounter some road delays during the summer.
Summer isn’t only construction season, but also bug season along the route. June and July will usually be the worst months for bugs.
August and September can be great times to travel. You will likely avoid bugs, most construction, and severe winter weather. Bonus, traveling during these two months also increases your likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights on your trip!
How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Drive to Alaska
Before you can drive to Alaska, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your RV for the journey. Make sure your fluids are topped off.
Check your tires for proper air pressure and to prevent tire blowouts. As an extra precaution, make sure you have a spare tire (or two).
Since most of the trip will be rural, be sure to pack a gas can. Fuel and service stations will be few and far between. A basic tool set for unexpected roadside repairs and tire changes is also good to have on hand.
Bring an alternative form of power. A generator or solar panels can keep your electronics powered up if you get stuck on the side of the road for an extended amount of time.
Finally, stock up on provisions in case weather or mechanical issues cause an unexpected delay in your trip. Extra food, water, and blankets are always good things to have on board for your trip to Alaska.
6 Best Tips for Driving to Alaska
1. Do Your Research
Planning the details of your road trip to Alaska is essential. You want to map out fuel stations, campgrounds, and can’t-miss sightseeing stops.
2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Since RVing to Alaska is likely a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you don’t want to feel rushed. If you allow yourself plenty of time, you’ll help ensure you have the safest and most fun trip possible.
3. Be Prepared
Even the most meticulously planned road trip can quickly turn into a disaster if you aren’t prepared. Take your RV and, if applicable, your tow vehicle in for a routine tune-up before embarking on your journey. Also, be sure to have extra provisions and the tools for basic roadside maintenance on hand.
4. Bring a Paper Map
Another tip is to be sure that you bring a paper map. We are all used to having GPS at our fingertips, but some places along the route to Alaska are too rural for service.
Having a paper map, and familiarizing yourself with how to read it, will ensure you have a solid backup plan if you are unable to use your GPS.
Since cell phone service can also be limited, it’s a good idea to invest in a cell phone booster. It used to be necessary to purchase a satellite phone before embarking on a road trip to Alaska. Fortunately, these days, a booster should be enough to ensure you don’t lose your ability to make emergency phone calls.
5. Plan Stops for Gas During Business Hours
When RVing to Alaska, it’s a good idea to plan stops for gas and food during normal business hours. Rural destinations don’t typically have a ton of visitors passing through. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you’ll find 24-hour service stations or fast-food restaurants.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your fuel tank at least half full. That way you’ll have a cushion if you can’t find a fuel station for an extended period of time. You also want to be sure to travel with cash.
Many fuel stops take plastic, but if they lose the ability to connect to the internet, having cash could mean the difference between moving on and being stuck.
Final Thoughts on Driving to Alaska from the United States
A road trip to Alaska is on the bucket list of many RVers. Realistically though, the logistics of such a journey isn’t for everyone. With extensive route mapping, appropriate preparations, and plenty of time, you can definitely drive to Alaska from the United States.
Is driving to Alaska from the United States something you and your family would enjoy? I know I’m adding it to my RV adventure must-dos!
About the Author
Laura is a part-time RVer and full-time mom of three. Long time campers and RVers before children, Laura, and her husband have fallen even more in love with the RV lifestyle since becoming parents to a child with food allergies.
Having her own kitchen on wheels makes her RV trips amazing. Laura is passionate about finding ways to make traveling with young children fun, easy, and attainable.