If you’re planning a great Alaskan road trip, you’re not alone. According to a report from the local tourist organization AKcruise, around two million people pay a visit to The Last Frontier every year, the vast majority of whom are road trippers from the US and Canada. There is no shortage of breathtaking sites to see in Alaska, but for many, the experience of hitting the open road is by far the highlight of the trip.
Alaska is home to some of the longest and most isolated roads in the world, as well as some truly stunning scenery that can be viewed from the windows of your SUV. If you’re planning on embarking upon a road trip through Alaska, there are challenges you will need to be aware of.
Driving in this sparsely populated and extremely weather-filled state can be a perilous undertaking. That’s why you need to ensure you have the right auto gear, vehicle, information, and emergency equipment to hand before you set off. With that in mind, here is everything you need to do to prepare for your road trip to Alaska.
Absorb the Alaskan Experience
Before getting into the technical details, it’s worth looking at some of the films, TV shows, books, and video games you can play prior to your road trip to get you in the mood for your Alaska experience. For truly breathtaking scenes of the state, as well as a warning about the dangers of being unprepared, you should watch the 2007 adventure film Into the Wild, available on the streaming platform Netflix.
To learn more about the stunning nature that you are likely to encounter on your road trip, then fire up the award-winning TV series Wild Alaska, featuring voiceovers from wildlife expert David Attenborough. For a novel that truly captures the experience of Alaska’s unyielding vastness, the classic 1976 book Coming into the Country is an absolute must.
When you think of Alaska, it’s hard not to think of fishing and absorbing yourself in the vistas that Alaska is known for. Indeed, whether it’s saltwater, freshwater, or ice fishing, there is something on offer for all anglers new to the game or otherwise experienced. Naturally, fishing is a game of patience, and it isn’t for everybody – especially considering how cold Alaska can get in the winter.
To safely and comfortably navigate Alaska, it is absolutely necessary that you choose an appropriate vehicle to do so. As any Alaskan will tell you, a sturdy SUV is absolutely the best way to go. Among the most popular models driven in the state include the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Jeep Commander, and the Toyota 4Runner. According to the Royal Alaska Movers Group, these are the cars that will prepare you for the rough terrain ahead.
If an SUV is not your style, there are other options available. Sturdy, spacious, and versatile station wagons such as the Subaru Outback and the Subaru Legacy Wagon are hugely popular choices, while even the sleek Subaru Impreza can do the job. In addition, classic American pickup trucks such as the Ford F150 are a popular choice. You will want a car that has plenty of space, is comfortable on multiple terrains, and can go long distances in extreme temperatures.
Auto Equipment to Bring
No matter what season you decide to travel, it is important to ensure that your vehicle is fully equipped with all of the necessary gear. Even if you are traveling in the summer, it is recommended that you install winter tires in your car, as intense snowstorms in the middle of June are far from uncommon. Applying all of the standard winter care precautions to your vehicle is recommended.
An ice scraper and brush are also basic prerequisites, as your car is more than likely to experience some overnight freezing at some point. Equally important is the emergency gear, as the last thing you want is to experience a breakdown when you’re all alone in the middle of nowhere and the mercury is well below freezing.
Pack several emergency flares and emergency signals in case you end up getting stranded in the wilderness. Bring a solid pair of pressed or crimped jumper cables, as well as wrenches, a socket set, and tire tape. Finally, do not forget to bring at least one can of spare gas with you, as you never know when the next gas station will actually appear on the horizon.
Road Safety Advice
Finally, let’s go over some essential road safety advice. According to The Advocates Law Firm, there are several roads in Alaska that are counted among some of the most dangerous in North America, owing to their isolation, quality, and local weather events. Richarson Highway, which is also one of the first roads in Alaska, is notorious for fatal accidents.
This is because the road is narrow and prone to ice-filled potholes. It is also in the state’s far north, where sunlight can often last only 4 hours per day. In a similar vein, the Dalton Highway, which extends all the way to the Arctic Circle, is also one to watch out for.
This is the longest road in North America with no services whatsoever, where the whole 240-mile span of the road can be traversed without seeing another soul. Breaking down or crashing here without the right equipment and know-how can and has been a death sentence for many travelers so it might be best avoided.
By following this advice, you will be well-prepared for your first Alaskan road trip. Being prepared means you can breathe easier and fully enjoy the sights and sounds this magical place has to offer.