Road Tripping on Alaska’s Scenic Byways
Here is quick over view of a trip of a life time, I do not many people who own a rv who do not want to take a trip through Alaska. So take a look here to start your planning weather it be for next year or further into the future, this is a great start.
Road Tripping on
Alaska’s Scenic Byways
In a state with relatively few roads and more than its share of jaw-dropping scenery, it’s no surprise that almost all of Alaska’s highways have been designated as scenic byways by either the state or national scenic byways programs.
Designed to recognize stretches of road with significant scenic, cultural or historic value, the programs have found plenty to love about driving Alaska – and you probably will too. Even if you don’t have enough time to travel by RV from your home state to Alaska (a trip that comes highly recommended, by the way – get more info on this option here), you can still rent a car in Alaska and take a little road trip while you’re here.
Even without a car, you can experience one of the most unique scenic byways in the nation on the Alaska Marine Highway System, the state ferries that connect coastal communities in the Inside Passage, Southcentral and Southwest Alaska. These essential links between communities not connected by roads offer visitors the opportunity to travel with and like locals while visiting some of the state’s most popular cruise ports and lesser-known coastal towns. The state ferry system’s southernmost port is in Bellingham, Washington; Prince Rupert, British Columbia is home to another port outside Alaska. These two ports link to the system’s Inside Passage ports, an area popular with cruise visitors for very good reason – scenery, wildlife and charming coastal communities are scattered throughout the region.
Other popular Alaska Marine Highway routes can be found in Prince William Sound, to Kodiak Island and all the way to the Port of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. These areas can be reached either via a ferry connection from the Inside Passage or by highway from a number of road-connected communities in Southcentral Alaska. Interested in seeing Prince William Sound? Rent a car in Anchorage, drive a short 60 miles south to Whittier and hop aboard the ferry for links to Cordova and Valdez. Along the way, you’ll pass by dozens of tidewater glaciers and undoubtedly spot whales and other marine life abundant in the sound. From Homer, about four hours from Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula, you can ferry across the open ocean to Kodiak Island for unparalleled bear viewing, sport fishing and the chance to explore one of the nation’s largest islands. For a true adventure, continue from Kodiak along Alaska’s Southwest coast, stopping in small Alaska Native villages en route to the nation’s busiest commercial fishing port in Dutch Harbor, made famous by “The Deadliest Catch” TV show.
No matter which ferry route you choose, there are some constants – cars, RVs, motorcycles, bicycles and even kayaks are welcome onboard (although advance reservations are strongly recommended during busier summer months). On most routes, private sleeping cabins are available, or you can relax in public lounge areas. Depending on the length of the journey and size of the ferry, you’ll also find a running stream of movies, cafeterias or restaurants, onboard naturalists and information on public lands, and interesting fellow travelers. Pets with proper documentation are also welcome, although they must stay in vehicles on the car deck. Owners can visit them during sailings and walk them during port calls.
Interested in a more terrestrial experience? Alaska has just four major highways and a handful of smaller scenic roads, so it’s easy to find your way. The two major north-south corridors connecting Southcentral and Interior Alaska are the Parks Highway and the Richardson Highway. (You’ll notice that Alaskans don’t refer to highways by their numbers, although they all have numbers. Perhaps it’s a sign of our easy familiarity, but we call them by their names.) The Parks Highway’s major attraction is Denali National Park and Preserve, home to Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak. Views of the massive mountain are possible all along the highway, which connects Fairbanks and Wasilla. The Parks Highway is both a National Scenic Byway and a state-designated scenic byway. The Richardson Highway stretches from Fairbanks to Valdez, at times overlapping with the Alaska Highway. Its northern section, from Fairbanks to Fort Greely, and its southern section, from Valdez to Glennallen, are both state-designated scenic byways. In the north, recreational options like Birch Lake State Recreation Area, the town of North Pole, Big Delta State Historical Park and Chena Lake Recreation Area provide a mix of recreation options and local culture against a backdrop of sheer, mineral-tinged mountains, wide open tundra, gravely river beds and fields of fuchsia fireweed. At the southern end, drivers will marvel at the journey over Thompson Pass as they drive from Glennallen to Valdez. At the top of the pass, Worthington Glacier spills out of the mountains nearly to the roadway, providing one of the best up-close glacier views in Alaska. Cresting the pass toward Valdez, views over the area’s rivers, valleys and out toward the ocean are spectacular.
Heading east to west, the Glenn Highway links Anchorage to Glennallen, and like its north-south counterparts, also features spectacular scenery. The majority of the highway sits in a glacier-carved valley and follows the Matanuska River. One of its most popular attractions is Matanuska Glacier, another glacier easily accessible right from the road. As you reach the highway’s eastern end, you’ll have a chance to see four mountain ranges at once: the Alaska Range, the Chugach Mountains, the Talkeetna Mountains and Wrangell Mountains.
The State of Alaska maintains a website for its state-designated scenic byways with dozens of smaller roads and sections of highway great for visitors to explore. The highlights of each are listed on the site along with maps, events and contact information for local tourism bureaus.
Posted on September 9, 2014, in The world as i see it as a camper and who loves his country and tagged boating, boondocking, camping, fishing, hiking, how to's, hunting, Koa, motorhomes, national parks, outback, outdoors, parks, rv tips, rving, state parks, trailers, traveling, winter camping. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.