Itinerary north: Central Access and Hart Highway to Alaska Highway and the Klondike Loop – 2,985 miles
This itinerary uses the Central Access route and part of the West Access route inbound to reach the Alaska Highway. Drive north to Whitehorse and enter Alaska via the Klondike Loop. Drive north to Fairbanks on the Alaska Highway, then south to Anchorage on the Parks Highway. Continue south on the Seward Highway to Whittier and take the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez. On the return, take the Alaska Marine Highway from Haines to Bellingham, WA. The ferry portions of this itinerary require reservations. Check current summer schedules and time your itinerary accordingly.
Central Access Route/Hart Highway
Head up the Central Access Route from Ellensburg, WA, through British Columbia’s Okanagan region. Follow Yellowhead Highway 5 north to Clearwater, making time to stop and see the spectacular waterfalls at Wells Gray Provincial Park. At Tete Jaune Cache, where Yellowhead 5 junctions with Yellowhead 16, drive west to Prince George and follow the Hart Highway northeast to Dawson Creek, BC, Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway.
Head north on the Alaska Highway, allowing enough time to stop and enjoy wildlife viewing, rivers, historic lodges, beautiful Muncho Lake and Liard River Hot Springs. At Watson Lake, first stop in Yukon, don’t miss the famous Sign Post Forest. Continue on to Whitehorse, capital of Yukon and home to many of Yukon’s best known attractions, including the SS Klondike, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and the Yukon Transportation Museum.
Just northwest of Whitehorse, turn off the Alaska Highway onto the Klondike Highway, which leads to the historic gold rush town of Dawson City. After exploring Dawson City, line up early for the ferry ride across the Yukon River to the Top of the World Highway. The ride only takes a few minutes, but on busy summer days, Alaska-bound traffic can stack up. You will also want to allow plenty of time to drive the Top of the World Highway; winding, narrow road and gravel breaks make this scenic drive a slow one.
Chicken to Fairbanks and south to Anchorage
After crossing into Alaska, you will junction with the Taylor Highway, which leads north to Eagle on the Yukon River and south through Chicken to the Alaska Highway. At Chicken, don’t miss the Pedro gold dredge, Tisha’s schoolhouse or Beautiful Downtown Chicken. The Taylor Highway from Chicken south to the Alaska Highway junction is paved. It is only 12 miles from this junction to Tok. Continue west on the Alaska and Richardson highways to Fairbanks. After taking in Fairbanks area attractions like Pioneer Park, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, Chena Hot Springs, and the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North, drive down the Parks Highway to Denali National Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage.
South through Inside Passage – 751 miles
Anchorage to Whittier then Tok
From Anchorage, continue south on the Seward Highway to the Whittier/Portage Glacier Access Road and drive through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to Whittier. Arrange for ferry passage through Prince William Sound to Valdez. Spend a few days in Valdez to enjoy the spectacular natural scenery and take a cruise to see Columbia Glacier. Then drive north on the Richardson Highway to the Tok Cutoff and head east to Tok.
Outbound from Tok, take the Alaska Highway southeast to Haines Junction and the Haines Highway to Haines (or the South Klondike Highway to Skagway). Arrange for ferry passage through Southeast Alaska to Bellingham, WA.
Ellensburg to Dawson Creek: 1,012 miles
Dawson Creek to Whitehorse: 895 miles
Whitehorse to Tok: 510 miles
Tok to Fairbanks: 206 miles
Fairbanks to Anchorage: 362 miles
751 or 808 miles. Ferry travel is 74 hours.
Anchorage to Whittier: 60 miles
Valdez to Haines: 691 miles
(OR Valdez to Skagway: 748 miles)