RV to Alaska: What You Need to Know
Road trips are about exploring new reaches, witnessing sights you’ve never seen, and experiencing the beautiful variety in the world. Perhaps that’s the reason you’ve set your sights on Alaska, the most distant and wild state of the continental Americas.
Luckily, you won’t be the first RV-er to plan a trip to Alaska, so you don’t have to hit the road blind. We’ve reviewed the best resources on the web, to ensure you’re equipped with the need-to-know info to make your journey a success.
The Drive North
No matter where in the U.S. you live, a drive north of the 50th parallel will be a trip of epic proportions. Most drivers recommend entering Alaska in June, and beginning the trek home around mid-August.
While you may be accustomed to traversing countless interstates, highways, and back country roads to reach your destination, Alaska is different. There are three main routes to reach the state; and it’s recommended you select one of these three, especially since not all roads are appropriate for big rigs.
If you’re looking to create your own route, here are a few more alternatives to research. The three main routes come courtesy of North to Alaska, a fantastic online resource for RV drivers looking for up-to-date information about road conditions, and other tips.
Rocky Mountain Route
Travel through the Canadian province of Alberta, home to the famous Rocky Mountains (which this route is named for). This route is known for its wildlife sightings, as well as the chance to stop at beautiful Canadian destinations, such as Banff and Jasper national parks. Or, perhaps you’ll run into the Giant Pierogy along the road.
Once on Alaskan soil, this route takes you through Anchorage and down to Homer, the town at the western terminus of of the U.S. road system. This is a good place to park the RV for a few days, and plan a boat tour into Kenai Fjords National Park.
Gold Rush Route
Less traveled than the Rocky Mountain Route, this drive takes you through the heart of Canadian wilderness as you travel the British Columbia and Yukon Territory interiors. History buffs may enjoy following the path taken by gold-hungry prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush; leading right to Dawson City, where successful stakers would spend their new fortunes.
In Alaska, this route passes the end point of the Alaskan Highway, through the immense mountains of Denali National Park, and into Anchorage.
Inside Passage Route
The Inside Passage Route travels up the coast of British Columbia and Alaska, along a series of interconnected marine highways. This route involves various ferries, for which reservations are often required in advance, especially for RVs.
On this less-traveled route, you’ll meander through the historical and cruise port destination town of Skagway, and down into Alaska’s southern coastal region.
A roadtrip to Alaska is certain to put some strains on your RV.
Highways in the Yukon Territory and Alaska are often under construction. They’ll still be open, but with stretches of highway covered in gravel, rather than pavement. Loose stones frequently chip or crack windshields. There are windshield repair services in Fairbanks and Anchorage, though you may need to ask to find a stop along the way. Try to get even the most minor of damages repaired quickly.
Poor highway conditions, such as potholes and frost heaves, can make for very uneven driving. While many big rigs don’t carry spare tires, ensure your existing ones have appropriate air pressure — and that you have a highway assistance number on hand. Carrying a tire pressure monitor system, tire chains, and air pump will help. When you’re trekking through wild country, preparation is everything.
RV Camping in Alaska
There are more than half a dozen National Parks in Alaska, each with slightly different rules when it comes to RV parking. It pays to do your research, and have a full understanding of park guidelines before setting out on your trip.
The most well known destination is Denali National Park — home to Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. Denali has especially stringent rules on RV camping. Half of its campsites can accommodate RVs of various sizes, but space is quite limited.
Some RV drivers have criticized the lack of hookups at Denali campsites. Water and sewer are only available at check-in locations, and the generator can only be run twice a day. Make sure your RV’s water metering device is working, and prepare to moderate accordingly.
Reservations at Denali can be made as early as December 1 of the previous year, and spots fill up fast. A lot of RVers plan their trip around a Denali reservation. If your heart’s set on Denali, plan well in advance and be diligent in your research, so you know what to expect when you arrive; otherwise, many of the state’s other parks offer adequate RV parking, and equally amazing opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous Alaskan landscapes.
We recommend bringing your RV for a full check and service before embarking on any Alaskan travels. During your full inspection, experts can also recommend a highway assistance plan, or added RV insurance coverage to ensure your Great Alaskan Road Trip goes off without a hitch.
List of Resources