As I am in the middle of my 10th trip either up or down the Alcan I figure I can throw a little advice out there! I hear all the time that this is a "Bucket list" item for a lot of people. Why wait until you are too old to enjoy the random hikes, adventure and other things that this fabulous drive throws at you?? Its not as bad as people say it is and to be honest its better than most residential roads that I've driven on in Minnesota.
First tip - GO! Do it. Get in your car and go. Rent an RV what ever you want but just GO. You will need to have at least a week for a one way trip (rent a car and then fly home) or if you want to do the interior Alaska trip I would recommend a month.
Right now I am on Day 6 and I'm not out of Canada yet. I drove 700 miles yesterday and I wouldn't recommend that if you actually want to enjoy the trip! I haven't had any real issues to speak of (this would be a first...) that have cause a delay but I've done some hiking and enjoying the time instead of rushing and driving straight through as I have done in the past.
Tip #2 - Make sure that you have a compatible travel companion. This means someone with the same intent as you. Are you hiking? Are you stopping at all of the quaint little towns? Will you be car camping? Staying in hotels? This is really important because while I highly recommend this trip there are a lot of things that can happen and the more north you get the more remote its going to be. You aren't going to be fighting off wolves for your snacks, but you may have to use faciliTREES instead of a flushing toilet. You may have to sleep in your vehicle (I recommend this actually...) and you probably will get looked at funny if you order a fancy coffee at any of the many road side cafe's and lodges that are open year round.
Me? I prefer dogs :) They don't say much, they are always happy to stop when you are, and they don't complain about my music choices. Along with that - most places are very dog friendly - so don't be afraid to bring your 4 legged along!
Tip #3 - Make sure you know how to change a tire. Ladies this is really important. It happens and once you get more north and on the Alcan, Triple A is a little known entity, cell service is very limited and there are no knights in shining armor ready to save a damsel in distress. In the north most women are very capable of doing many things by themselves because they have to. It is remote so unless you want to sit on the side of the road for hours waiting for another car to pass and HOPEFULLY stop to help, just learn how to do it yourself.
Tip #4 - Download podcasts, music whatever you want to listen to because you are going to need it! Radio stations are very spotty, most of the time its talk radio and once you get into the mountains there just isn't anything.
Tip #5 - Have fun! Coming from the lower 48, the travel through to the Alcan is like driving through North Dakota for about 700 miles.....I prefer to do it at night! But Edmonton and Calgary are both big cities and provide people with all kinds of entertainment if that's your thing. Once you get past Edmonton that's when the real adventure starts!
Tip #6 - Bring toilet paper....see Tip #2....don't ask just bring it.
Tip #7 - Once you get on the Alcan, fill your vehicle fuel up at every chance you get. Even if its a quarter tank, fill up. And I recommend bringing an extra tank of fuel just in case. I've been in tight situations and was very happy I had an extra 6 gallons to get me to the next stop.
Tip #8 - Make sure that you are prepared for the time of year weather. If you are driving in the spring or fall, be ready for snow and ice, make sure that you have good tires or chains. Summer time you should be ok but make sure that you are familar with driving in the mountains.
Tip #9 - SLOW DOWN. Use your lower gears so you don't fry your brakes. Watch out for rocks on the road (ya there are avalanches!) and there are a lot of big critters that will be wandering near the road... IE the Damn Buffalo (Earl hates them, and Stevie is starting to join the club). They will wreck your day. Moose, buffalo, caribou, black and brown bears all live here - they will wreck your car and your day. Just slow down.... Plus there are some pretty amazing sights out there - you can't see them if you are driving mach 10.
Tip #10 - Have a credit card that doesn't charge you an international fee for traveling through Canada. That wracks up really quick, most places will take American currency in Canada but the exchange rate will screw you because they give you change back in Canadian. I've never had an issue using my Capital One anywhere and they do not charge international fees.
I hope this helps someone! Maybe the next one I'll talk about my favorite stops because I have them :) There will be more, I just have to think about them a little more.... have a great day from Alberta!
Sunset from the Stone Mountain summit... ya I know its pretty ugly....