ALCAN | History, Tips, Fast Facts

If you’re thinking of driving to Alaska or doing a DIY Alaska move, you’ll likely find yourself on the historic (and scenic!) Alaska Highway at some point. Since its official opening in 1948, this major route has played a significant role in Alaska’s history and continued development.

In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know about the Alaska Highway. You’ll get a brief history of the road, a few interesting facts and figures, and our tips for navigating the Alaska Highway safely and easily.

Let’s start with the basics.

What, Exactly, Is the Alaska Highway?

alcan map

The Alaska Highway—which is also called the Alaska-Canada Highway, the Alaskan Highway, or the ALCAN/Alcan—is a road that runs from Dawson Creek, British Columbia (Canada) to Delta Junction, Alaska (U.S.).

In 2023, the Alaska Highway celebrated its 75th anniversary of opening. During the road’s history, a system of Historic Mileposts popped up to allow travelers to track their progress and mark points of interest along the way. These mileposts don’t translate perfectly to the actual rode mileage.

Over the years, construction and re-routing changed the length of the road, and the mileposts were never updated. As a result, if you start from Dawson Creek, you’ll see slight discrepancies between your mileage and the Historic Mileposts. By the time you cross the Alaska-Yukon border, that discrepancy goes up to 40 miles (mile 1182.2/Historical Mile 1222).

I’ve heard the Alaska Highway goes all the way to Fairbanks!

Technically, the Alaska Highway ends at Delta Junction. The road (Alaska Route 2) continues on to Fairbanks, although it’s called Richardson Highway after the intersection with Delta Junction. Drive Richardson Highway another 96 miles and you’ll be in Fairbanks.

Fast Facts About the Alaska Highway

When Was the Alaska Highway Built?

The Alaska Highway was built during World War II. The first civilian cars drove the highway in 1946, although the highway wasn’t officially opened until 1948. If you’re curious how the highway first came to be, we put together a brief history of the Alaska Highway:

What’s the Current Condition of the Road? Is It Paved?

Yes, the entire Alaska Highway is paved. However, when the road needs to be repaired—or simply maintained—you may be diverted to a gravel road. The MILEPOST travel guide—a must for driving the Alaska Highway—has a pretty detailed breakdown on their website.

Tips for Driving the Alaska Highway

Our teams have driven to and from Alaska in all kinds of equipment—and in all kinds of weather. We asked them for their tips to help you travel the Alaska Highway safely and easily. Here’s what they told us:

Driving the ALCAN: The Journey of a Lifetime

For many, driving the Alaska Highway is an unforgettable expedition through gorgeous, unspoiled country. With a little knowledge—and a little preparation—you’ll set yourself up for a trip that’s unforgettable for all the right reasons.

Making a move to Alaska? We’d be happy to help you get your belongings to the Last Frontier so all you have to do is get yourself (and your car!) here. Just reach out to our team for a complimentary quote to get started. We specialize in safe, easy, and affordable Alaska moves—and we can move you anywhere in the state!

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