Posted October 7, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
“To travel hopefully is better than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”
The Alaska Highway was born to be a military supply route, but it grew up to be a story-teller.
This unforeseen attribute had us riveted from Mile-0.
Built for war, this 1,187 mile (1,910 km) road opened to the public in 1948. Since then, driving to Alaska is a surefire epochal adventure for any traveller who is up for a dense narrative with beaucoup twists and turns.
Every overlander comes away with a unique life-altering experience, but not always the one they intended.
The North Country entropy is extreme and often results in dire consequences. Enter the random moose, wild fire, flood, flat tire, broken axel, shattered windshield or medical emergency and the journey takes a new course.
Tow trucks transferring disabled vehicles over hundreds of miles to the nearest town and a freshly stranded motorhome, port side up, down a steep rocky embankment alerted us, early on, that anything can happen.
Our fondness for self-preservation had us on hyper-alert. We were more than a bit jumpy because around every dusty turn …
a creeping zombie landslide might finish us off.
But within moments of those nail-biting ravine crossings we’d break into ecstatic reverie over the glorious landscapes …
and majestic creatures revealing themselves along the roadside.
That’s how it is in North Country – one minute is “Oh my God, I’m going to die!” and the next moment is, “Oh, Lord, take me now!”
But there was no sharing this existential tug-of-war in real time because internet connectivity was mostly nonexistent. I couldn’t text to loved ones: In the last fifteen minutes we dodged falling rocks, saw a she-bear coaxing her two cubs down a tree, had to stop for a herd of bison and forty rock sheep before a herd of caribou ran across the road toward a lake that appears to be a magic portal.”
No. Every moment was ours alone – lost and vulnerable in a mystical land, separated from our former selves.
Being technologically declawed over long stretches of time brought us closer together – closed that distance many couples reserve for The Big Stuff. We hugged often for both comfort and warmth.
The uncharacteristically cold, windy and wet weather never abated. An early summer retreat south to a warmer climate was on the table until we heard about a major heat dome in the lower forty-eight. Remaining on course was an offer we couldn’t refuse.
The wheel was in our hands, but The AlCan was captain. All we could do is hang on and pay attention.
Every evening – after surviving a new episode in this wondrously wild frontier – we collapsed, exhausted from the road, eyes burning from daylight overload.
The AlCan was built in an act of desperation. Originally conceived in 1920, but only seriously proposed after the WW2 attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 – the scars of that emotional year are more enduring than the permafrost.
Built seventeen years before Alaska became the 49th State and seventy-five years after the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million (equivalent to about $153 million in today’s US dollars) road maintenance remains an impressive but complicated project
Every kilometer is an ongoing construction zone in various stages of completion, destruction, and completion again.
But I’m getting ahead of the story.
Before we merged onto the AlCan, we pulled out of Mackenzie, British Columbia beneath a gorgeous bluebird sky …
our innocent hopes soaring like a bevy of swan over a glimmering lake …
as we headed north through Peace Foothills.
At midday we arrived to …
Chetwynd, British Columbia
Yet, with no crowds – and hundreds of award-winning chainsaw carvings on display – the advantage was ours.
We found ample free parking in the middle of town, bought refreshments and strolled along the AlCan in the warmth of midday viewing the collection.
Spending only two hours with the Academy Awards of Chainsaw Carving hardly cut it. But, The Road called.
On to …
Dawson Creek, British Columbia
and Mile 0 of The World Famous Alaska Highway. Woo-hoo!!!
Bursting with bright AlCan expectations, we settled into our campsite and took a stroll in the countryside.
Presently, we came upon The Walter Wright Pioneer Village, an historical collection of buildings, artifacts and stories of miners, farmers and trappers who colonized the area before the Alaska Highway was built. The salvaged buildings are handily arranged in a Main Street fashion.
A sudden downpour cut our Old Town trip short, so we ducked into a cozy pub for an excellent tasting.
The next morning we set out for …
Peace River, British Columbia
where we settled into a free campsite beside an old WW2 airport to relax and kill time before our Muncho Lake reservation in two days.
Fort Liard, Northwest Territories
The following day we took a 110 mile detour off the AlCan on Highway 77 to the Northwest Territories.
The wildlife viewing opportunities on this road rival The San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
With no traffic, we drove as slowly as we liked.
Never stepping outside the truck, we spotted bear, lynx, fox, bobcat and a bison herd.
First we fueled up …
and then settled into a gorgeous free camping spot on the shore of Hay Lake …
where I took a paddle …
while Jim whipped up his Classic Nicoise Salad.
The next morning we returned to the Alcan and moved toward …
Muncho Lake, British Columbia
The drive to Muncho Lake was brutal. We were constantly cueing up for the pilot car to take us from one point to the next.
We get nervous when the fuel tank is below half. Just when we were about to panic, we saw this lodge …
where this sturdy little pump offered services while pulling off a damn good Don Rickles impersonation.
While fueling up we caught the fragrance of what‘s that? Cinnamon rolls!? Way out here that’s about as likely as a whiff of Chanel #5 wafting up from the surface of a Louisiana swamp – but it was true!
Flying on a sugar high we powered on …
… at about five-miles per hour, past a band of rock sheep attracted to minerals on the roadside.
Presently, we pulled into our home for two nights at Northern Rockies Lodge & RV Park on Muncho Lake.
Jim reserved this site on what was once a beach.
The unprecedented water rise prompted the local authorities to close down the park’s RV dump services.
If the water had been a few inches higher (or our rig a few inches longer) backing in and out could have been a disaster.
Fortunately, the rain subsided, and for a couple of days we enjoyed the beauty of the lake …
and the view of the surrounding Northern Rockies.
We pulled out of beautiful Muncho Lake with our black and gray tanks still full and in dire need of maintenance. But how to find services in a flood zone? Just one teeny-tiny cell signal would be a help.
But, hey, what’s the rush?
Okay, we’re getting the message.
Press on with patience.
Eventually, we arrived to our next destination …
Liard River Hot Springs, British Columbia
The natural thermal spring smoothed out the rough spots.
Hey, who’s afraid of that big bad road now?
Okay, that concludes the British Columbia part of the AlCan. Maybe Yukon will be more tame? 😂🤣😜
Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series
- Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
- Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay – Chula Vista, California
- Malibu Beach RV Resort – Malibu, California
- Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
- Morro Bay State Park – Morro Bay, California
- Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
- Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park – Santa Cruz, California
- Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
- San Francisco RV Park – Pacifica, California
- Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
- Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair – Wilton, California
- High Water Brewery (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
- Harmony Wynelands (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
- Van Ruiten Family Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
- Four Fools Winery (Harvest Host location) – Rodeo, California
- Lawson’s Landing – Dillon Beach, California
- Mia Bea Wines (Harvest Host location) – Redwood Vally, California
- Johnny’s at the Beach – Eureka, California
- Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
- Harris Beach State Park – Brookings, Oregon
- Bay Point Landing Resort – Coos Bay, Oregon
- Blue Herron French Cheese (Harvest Host location) – Tillimook, Oregon
- Seaside RV Resort – Seaside, Oregon
- Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
- Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park – Olympia, Washington
- Salt Creek Recreation Area – Port Angeles, Washington
- Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
- Weir’s Beach RV Resort – Victoria, British Columbia
- Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
- Riverside RV Resort – Whistler, British Columbia
- Big Bar Rest Area – Clinton, British Columbia
- Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
- Alexander MacKenzie Landing – Mackenzie, British Columbia
- Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
- Northern Lights RV Park – Dawson Creek, British Columbia
- Former Prophet River State Park – Peace River, British Columbia
- Hay Lake – Fort Liard, Northwest Territories
- Northern Rockies Lodge and RV Park – Muncho Lake, British Columbia
- Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park – Liard River, British Columbia
- Chapter 11 – Yukon
- Watson Lake Visitors Center Parking Lot – Watson Lake, Yukon
- Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
- Norsemen RV Park – Atlin, British Columbia
- Hot Springs Campground – Whitehorse, Yukon
- Real Canadian Superstore Parking Lot, Whitehorse, Yukon
- Gold Rush Campground – Dawson City, Yukon
- Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
- Downtown Chicken Cafe and Saloon
- Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
- Tundra RV Park – Tok, Alaska
- Gulkana River Rest Stop – Gulkana, Alaska
- Bear Paw RV Park – Valdez, Alaska
- Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
- Grand View Cafe and RV Park – Glacier View, Alaska
- Alaska Raceway Park (Harvest Host location) – Palmer, Alaska
- Ship Creek RV Park – Anchorage, Alaska
- Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
- Heritage RV Park – Homer Spit, Alaska
- Marathon RV Campground – Seward, Alaska
- Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
- Williwaw Campground – Whittier, Alaska
- Talkeenta Camper Park – Talkeetna, Alaska
- Chapter 17 – Denali
- Riley Creek Campground – Denali National Park, Alaska
- Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs
- Riverview RV Park – North Pole, Alaska
- Chena Hot Springs Campground – Fairbanks, Alaska
- Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines
- Fast Eddy’s Restaurant Parking Lot – Tok, Alaska
- Gravel Turnout – Beaver Creek, Yukon
- Gravel Turnout – Destruction Bay, Yukon
- Haines Hitch-UP RV Park – Haines, Alaska
- Chapter 20 – South to the Lower 48
- Gravel Turnout – Haines Junction, Yukon
- Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
- Jade City Parking Lot – Jade City, British Columbia
- Mehan Lake Rest Area – Bell II, British Columbia
- Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park – Telkwa, British Columbia
- Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
- 100 Mile House Municipal Campground – 100 Mile House, British Columbia
- Mt. Paul Golf Course (Harvest Host location) – Kamloops, British Columbia
- Crowsnest Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Cawston, British Columbia
- Final Chapter – Lessons Learned
- Mileposts (the book)
- Cash and Currency
- Dump Stations and Potable Water
- Internet Connectivity
- Canada Border Crossing
- US Border Crossing
- General Observations
- Final Thoughts
- Our Camp Sites
If you want to see our exact route, click here.
*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.