2,437 Miles: Driving the ALCAN Highway from Anchorage to Portland

Alaska Border with Yukon Territory Canada

On the border of Alaska and the Yukon Territory, Canada.

Near the end of 2011, I decided to move back home to Vancouver, Washington / Portland, Oregon after living for about 18 months in Anchorage, Alaska. Rather than flying, like I did on my way to Alaska, I decided to enjoy the scenery of the legendary Alaska-Canadian (ALCAN) highway.

I was not disappointed.

I saw glaciers, beautiful rivers, horses, black bear, several beautiful sunsets and miles and miles of wilderness in the Yukon and British Columbia.

But it was a little stressful too. Almost two hours outside of Anchorage, Alaska my check engine light came on. It was the middle of nowhere with hardly any other vehicles driving by. So, I was pretty cautious driving home. Looking back at it now, it wasn’t a big deal and I should have stopped to do some hiking in Canada. Luckily, everything went well and I had a fun solo road trip.

Welcome to the Yukon!

Yukon Territory Sign

The ALCAN Highway

Transporting Firearms

If you’re like most Alaskans you probably have at least one gun. I had bought a .30-06 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun while I was living in Alaska. I was a little nervous about taking them through Canada, but it’s actually quite simple. There’s a form you have to fill out, print it at home and complete the form, it requires the serial numbers of the firearms and there are restrictions on certain types. But 99% of people should be OK. Make sure your firearms are safely stored in your vehicles trunk when you’re transporting them. Then when you reach the border, tell the officer immediately that you are transporting firearms. I was told to pull into one of the parking spots and bring the paperwork inside. If the officer doesn’t take it at the window, bring your passport and your paperwork inside. They do some writing and stamping and then you’re good to go.

On the Road

Initially, I figured I’d stop for the night before crossing into Canada. But I made such great time and getting through Customs was a breeze, so I continued driving until I was ready to sleep. I found a rest stop which only had one other occupant – a truck pulling a horse trailer. I parked on the far side from the truck and enjoyed some sleep.

On day 2, after sleeping in the rest stop somewhere in the Yukon Territory I woke up really early, like 3 or 4:00 AM, and continued my journey. After driving for a while the sun started to rise and this beautiful sight greeted me.

Yukon Territory Canada - Travellistic

Then I nearly ran out of gas. I had driven through a very remote part without finding a gas station. Plus, it was still very early in the morning. The first two gas stations I found didn’t take debit or credit. There were those old school pumps from my Mom’s day. Unfortunately, the stations weren’t open. Not that it mattered, I had run out of cash the day before.

My gas gauge was below E for a good 20 minutes when I thankfully came into this little town and was able to fill up. I was equally parts shocked and happy to pay $43.84 to fill up. To this day, that’s the most I’ve ever paid for a full tank.

Expensive Gas Yukon Territory

Canyon Creek Bridge Canada

It was kind of a happy coincidence that I needed to get out and stretch my legs at Canyon Creek Bridge. I walked a little and learned a little.

Canyon Creek Bridge in Canada

Southern Lakes - Jakes Corner Canada - Travellistic

Teslin Lake was beautiful even during a cloudy, rainy day. Once I got into town I made to sure to pull out a fat stack of cash so I didn’t run out again.

Tim at Teslin Lake Yukon Canada - Travellistic

Teslin Lake Yukon Canada - Travellistic

My second night was spent sleeping in the parking lot of a very expensive Lincoln log-looking hotel a little more than halfway between Teslin and Stewart, BC.

On day 3, I got another early start and randomly came across these beautiful and friendly horses.

Horses in Yukon - Travellistic

Maybe an hour after seeing the horses I came across this black bear. It seemed entirely unconcerned about me watching it walk along the road nibbling plants. It stopped several times to stare at me. Apparently curiosity got the best of it and it shuffled up to my car, close enough to my passenger side door that if I was sitting there and reached out I could have touched it.

Black Bear in British Columbia

After turning onto Glacier Highway, it started to get very foggy and rainy. It created a very eerie feeling as I drove alone down the road. I hadn’t seen another person or driver since I woke up.

Bear Glacier Strohn Lake British Columbia

Bear River Stewart British Columbia

Stewart BC - Travellistic

Stewart, British Columbia is a quaint little town. With an old fashioned downtown like you read about in books. The little restaurant inside the King Edward Hotel was the happening place to be. I enjoyed a delicious breakfast there along with probably half the town. Not surprisingly, I drew more than a few stares from the locals.

After leaving Stewart, I made a bee line for Prince George where I relaxed, got a hotel room, and enjoyed a nice evening on the town.

On day 4, I got another early start and I made the final push, driving all the way home. It was a really good feeling being back in Washington, passing by Mount Rainier, and seeing Mount St. Helens. I love the Northwest.

Have you driven the ALCAN Highway? Leave me a message below in the comments.