Driving the Alaskan Highway was quite an experience. After making the over 3,000 mile trek, Ben said that when we move back to the lower 48, we’re just getting rid of everything and flying back. But, honestly, I enjoyed the drive enough that I’d do it again next summer.
The final stats for our trip:
Springville, Utah–>Wasilla, Alaska
72 1/2 hours spent in the car
We’ve been incredibly grateful for the support we’ve gotten from family throughout this process. One huge thing was that Ben’s mom let us borrow her Suburban to take the trip up. Having us all fit in one vehicle saved us a ton of money.
We rented a U-Haul trailer to take as much of our stuff as possible. We had to get rid of quite a bit, but stuff is just stuff. Another huge blessing was that my dad came with us for the drive! This was huge because I hate driving (I only drove one stretch that was 2 or 3 hours and that was enough for me) so Pa was able to swap back and forth with Ben which afforded all of us the opportunity to take naps when necessary and also let me spend lots of time sitting in the back with the girls.
Oh yeah, we drove that whole way with two babies under two! I really can’t take any of the credit. The girls did amazing.
One of the biggest stressors for Ben was crossing the border into Canada.
Ben was sweating bullets because we were carrying firearms in the trailer (pun not intended but still found amusing;). Despite all his research regarding this and all his documentation, they still stopped us at the border and put up a stink. So we had to turn back to U.S. soil until Ben got ahold of someone who could legally ship his guns to him (the U.S. border patrol gave us a reference so it wasn’t difficult).
It set us back a bit, but we had a chance to reorganize the trailer to distribute the weight a little better (which enabled us to exceed the 65ish m.p.h we’d been attempting). Dropping the guns off ended up being a good thing. No longer carrying them made it possible to drive through a couple of Canada’s national parks.
We drove through Banff and Jasper and I cannot tell you how gorgeous these places were! I think we hit it at just the right time. Everything was in bloom, the weather was perfect. It was amazing.
Add a trip to Banff to your bucket list! We didn’t have much time to explore, but I think it’d be amazing to spend a few days hiking around. We asked the worker at the entrance what was a Don’t Miss Experience and he recommended the Columbia Icefield (technically in Jasper). I realize now that he might’ve just been trying to divert some traffic (it was crazy busy), but it was really incredible to see!
That ended up being the perfect stop for us too. It was a short hike up to the glacier, but enough to get my heart pumping and my calves burning. It was a much needed break from sitting in the car for so long!
We also stopped at a waterfall outlook. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was beautiful! The water in Banff/Jasper is the gorgeous clear, blue-green. I couldn’t get enough of it.
I think the girls appreciated a little time out of their carseats as well.
So, Canada is huge. We drove up through Alberta and seemed to be in Alberta for so long! We finally made it over British Columbia and upon doing so, we went to a Walmart and picked up a map of Canada in case our phones weren’t working at major junctions (a very real possibility). Right after entering B.C., we hit Dawson Creek (not the TV show), which is the official (I’m pretty sure) start of the Alaska Highway.
It’s almost like you could feel the change which sounds cheesy but I’m totally serious.
It was like, “Adventure ahead!”
After Calgary, Alberta, we didn’t hit any cities, and definitely starting in Dawson Creek, towns become farther and farther apart. There are small towns and services about 100-150 miles apart, but mostly we just passed through beautiful mountainous countryside.
Since the Alaskan Highway is famous, there were several touristy type spots to stop along the way.
This is the sign post forest in Watson Lake, B.C. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to walk around, but there’s a pathway through it with signs on signs on signs from all over the world.
So awesome. We were able to spot several signs from near where my dad grew up in Montana just from the road.
The scenery along the highway was stunning the whole way of our drive.
There was a playground at one particular rest stop and as we were stretching our legs and letting Wendy run around, my dad noticed some wild raspberries growing. He also found some strawberries and edible puffball mushrooms. Many stops after that weren’t complete until Wendy had a fistful of raspberries.
Another awesome thing about driving so far north and where there’s not a huge population is all the wildlife we saw. The above picture shows this huge herd of bison we passed.
They were huge (even the babies were big!) and there were a ton of them.
Here’s a couple of bighorn sheep that we saw (ha! I think that’s what they are…maybe goats?).
My favorite to see were the bears! We saw a few other ones and I know they can kill you but I still think they’re really cute.
We stayed our first night in a hotel, but after that we took advantage of the campgrounds that are along the highway. Again, it’s enough of a tourist destination that there were plenty of safe, affordable options. We camped two of the nights and one night we stayed in that cute little “lodge” pictured above. With camping, there is a little bit of a risk for bears, but such is the Yukon. The farther north we got, the more daylight we had. Until our last night on the road, we were pitching our tents at 11:30 with full daylight. It was a strange sensation.
I had such a good time on this trip and I’m really glad we made the drive! Honestly, if you enjoy road trips and camping, I would highly recommend you make this trip (although I would personally only want to do it one way…turning right around to drive back sounds…awful).