Tualatin Stories and Tips

Journeys on the Historic ALCAN

Winter Mountains Photo, Tualatin, Oregon

When it came time to plan our trip from northern New York to Fairbanks, Alaska, my husband and I were not quite certain if we should go ahead and drive the ALCAN, take the marine highway or simply fly from Watertown, New York to Fairbanks, Alaska. Of course we decided to take the ALCAN Highway, not only because the military would not allow us to ship two vehicles, but I had also heard that the drive on the ALCAN was one of the most beautiful drives I would ever take and it was simply not to be missed. Of course I had also heard that the qualities of the roads were not so great either, but being the type of person I am, I just shrugged and said we would tackle any problems we met on the road.

As we began to prepare for our trip, I stocked up on things such as sterno, dried foods like granola and fruit, and canned soups. I had heard that it was a good idea to stock up on a few provisions if you were taking the ALCAN, so I made sure we were prepared. As we began our journey out of snowy, northern New York with all our food provisions tucked tidily in a large cardboard box and our sleeping bags and cold winter gear in another part of our Jeep, I took stock of everything I had made or collected and felt that we would be able to do this with no problem. With a few stops every so often at a grocery store, we would be fine.

I was right; every stop we made that was longer than 2 days, we stocked up on fruit, juice, water, bread and luncheon meats. By the time we hit the ALCAN, this habit of stocking to replenish our food was almost ingrained and at that time we needed it the most. Both restaurants and grocery stores are hard to find on the ALCAN so it was important during this time of year to keep some food on hand. Even though we had planned our trips between each city to be shorter than they had been in the lower forty-eight, we didn’t know what to expect. We had been told that this time of year could be treacherous due to the wet spring snows and the road conditions. All I can say was we were lucky.

Our drive on the ALCAN was so easy between each stop that it was almost too easy. Here we expected awful weather, bad roads, and long driving times due to pounding snows, yet we had no problems. Honestly, I believe that we must have been lucky to get such great driving conditions after what we had been promised by others to get. Each stop from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse and then to Fairbanks, Alaska took us much less time than what we thought would. In fact, we could have possibly skipped Watson Lake and continued onto Whitehorse except for one reason alone. If we had skipped Watson Lake, we would have never gotten the chance to experience the Liard Hot Springs as we would have never had the time. Now that I know about the hot springs I would never do that.

Other than Whitehorse, the Hot Springs were the ultimate excitement of our whole trip up to Alaska. Both my husband and I had never had the chance to enjoy a natural hot spring set in its "natural setting". This was not only a romantic interlude but a truly relaxing one as well. If I could, I would drive right back from Anchorage this day to enjoy the beauty, serenity, and relaxations that those hot springs have to offer.

As I have mentioned above, Whitehorse was another fun stop. Whitehorse, which is the capital of the Yukon, still to this day resembles the old mining town that it used to be. Everything from The Best Western on Main Street that faintly resembles an old western, gambling hotel, to the tiny shops that inhabit that street, this city has managed to keep its old mining charm. Even during early spring this city has a lot to offer travelers. Whether you prefer shopping, touring museums, or just sight seeing, this town has a lot to offer.

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