Alaska Highway via West Access Route – 2,701 miles
The classic itinerary for Alaska-bound travelers on the West Access route is to drive the Alaska Highway one-way, and take the Alaska Marine Highway the other way via the Inside Passage from Haines, AK, to Bellingham, WA. The ferry portion of the itinerary requires reservations.
Travelers should work backward from their ferry departure date when estimating travel time for the driving portion of the trip.
West Access Route
Seattle to Prince George
To access the Alaska Highway via the West Access Route, depart Seattle on Interstate 5. Cross the international border at Blaine (instead of Sumas), and follow Highway 99 through Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay and the start of the Sea to Sky Highway. This stunning highway, a former logging road, is a slight twist in the traditional West Access approach to the Alaska Highway. And it is, indeed, a twisting road, but Highway 99 also offers an exciting route into British Columbia’s Cariboo country. North of Cache Creek on Highway 97 turn off to Wells and Barkerville for part of the Gold Rush Circle Route side trip.
Prince George to Dawson Creek
Leave Prince George via the Hart Highway to Dawson Creek. Stop in Chetwynd for a root-beer float and a look at some amazing chainsaw sculptures. Take a Tumbler Ridge side trip to see Kinuseo Falls or drive the Hudson’s Hope Loop and tour the huge W.A.C. Bennett Dam.
Dawson Creek to Whitehorse
Heading north up the Alaska Highway, allow enough time to stop and enjoy wildlife viewing, scenic lakes and historic lodges along the way. Stop for a soak at Liard River Hotsprings. At Watson Lake, first stop in Yukon, photograph the famous Sign Post Forest. From Watson Lake it is just 164 miles to Teslin, home of the George Johnston Museum and the Tlingit Heritage Center.
Next stop is Whitehorse, capital of Yukon and home to many of Yukon’s best known attractions, including the SS Klondike, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center and the Yukon Transportation Museum. Side trips include scenic Atlin on Atlin Road and/or Emerald Lake and Carcross on the South Klondike Highway. Ride the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railway roundtrip between Carcross and Skagway.
Whitehorse to Fairbanks
Continuing north from Whitehorse, you will visit Haines Junction, the Kluane Lake area and Beaver Creek just before the border of Alaska at Port Alcan. Your first stop in Alaska will probably be Tok, which has all services and 2 visitor information centers. Delta Junction also has all services and is the official end of the historic Alaska Highway. Stop at the Big Delta State Historical Park just beyond Delta Junction and before driving on to Fairbanks.
Fairbanks has many attractions: Allow time for side trips to gold mines, Chena Hot Springs, the trans-Alaska pipeline, as well as visits to the Large Animal Research Station, Museum of the North and Pioneer Park.
Plan on at least 2 days (or more) to drive the Parks Highway from Fairbanks south to Anchorage. There’s quite a bit to see and do on this highway, from horseback riding to touring sled dog kennels. Denali National Park is a must stop, as is the short side trip to Talkeetna. Anchorage side trips include Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula.
South through the Inside Passage – 771 miles
Alaska and Haines highways
From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway Scenic Byway, with views of Matanuska Glacier, to the Tok Cutoff to Tok. From Tok, go southeast on the Alaska Highway to Haines Junction, YT, then south on the Haines Highway to Haines, AK, where you catch the Alaska state ferry south to Bellingham, WA. If time allows, include stopovers at Southeast ports along the Inside Passage/Alaska Marine Highway portion of your trip.
Seattle to Dawson Creek: 853 miles
Dawson Creek to Fairbanks: 1,486 miles
Fairbanks to Anchorage: 362 miles
771 miles. Ferry travel is 68 hours (about 3 days).
Anchorage to Tok: 328 miles
Tok to Haines: 443 miles