Alaska has a sense of mystery surrounding it, and if you’re looking for the road trip of a lifetime, then driving there from the mainland US might sound like the perfect option, but how long does it take to drive to Alaska?
The driving time to Alaska depends on how long it takes to drive to one of the US-Canada border crossings, plus the driving time from the border into Alaska. For States nearby the border, this can take 5-6 days, and for those further away it can take 8-9 days of driving 8 hours per day.
Driving from the US States to the border
As can be expected, the time it takes to drive to Alaska partly depends on your starting location.
To gain a perspective of the driving time you’re going to face, here’s a list of some US locations and the driving times to Alaska, starting with Seattle (the shortest driving distance).
- Seattle (Washington) 41 hours (2,232 miles)
- Oregon 47 hours (2,592 miles)
- Idaho 48 hours (2,748 miles)
- Minnesota 51 hours (3,010 miles)
- Utah 53 hours (3,122 miles)
- Colorado 54 hours (3,217 miles)
- Nevada 55 hours (3,242 miles)
- Wisconsin 57 hours (3,398 miles)
- Kansas 57 hours (3,393 miles)
- Texas 63 hours (3,872 miles)
- Nashville 65 hours (4,016 miles)
If you’re keeping to the daily recommended driving guidelines of 8 hours, then from the states located closer to the Canadian border, you’d be able to drive to Alaska in 5-6 days. But for those further away, you’re looking at 8-9 days of solid driving.
Driving from the US-Canada border to Alaska
You can drive to the US/Canadian border from anywhere in the US, excluding the island of Hawaii. In general, crossing the border is straightforward, and there are usually short waiting times. After you’ve crossed the border over to Canada, you’ll then start driving towards Alaska.
It’s important to note that border crossing locations have different regulations, rules, and operating hours. Before crossing, be sure to understand the hours of operation and additional procedures, such as permits, before you travel.
Below are some of the main border crossing points used between the mainland US and Canada.
There are 13 land border crossings connecting Washington to British Columbia. The most popular include Peace Arch, connecting US Highway I-5 and British Columbia Highway 99, and the Sumas port, connecting Washington Highway 9 and British Columbia Highway 11.
The estimated journey of this route is 2,148 miles and 39 hours.
Driving from Montana, the 24-hour Sweetgrass port is a popular crossing from Interstate 15 connecting to Alberta Highway 4. There are 12 other crossing points available, such as Roosville and Piegan, but Sweetgrass is by far the most heavily used port for crossings.
The estimated journey of this route is 2,263 miles and 39 hours.
Driving from North Dakota, the Portal crossing connects U.S. Highway 52 with Saskatchewan 39. This is the most popular of the 18 crossing points in Dakota, closely followed by Peace Garden and Pembina Emerson.
The estimated journey of this route is 2,540 miles and 43 hours.
Driving from Maine, 24 land border crossings run along Quebec and New Brunswick, with the most popular including Houlton Woodstock, via Interstate 95 connecting to New Brunswick Route 2 (the Trans-Canada Highway). Another popular option includes the Madawaska-Edmundston bridge.
The estimated journey of this route is 4,529 miles and 77 hours.
After crossing over into Canada, you’ll take various routes connecting to the Alaskan highway and subsequently drive into Alaska.
The Alaskan Highway
The only road connecting Canada to Alaska is the Alaska-Canada Highway, which was built in 1948 with the goal of surrounding American territory. The highway is 1,387 miles (2232 km) in length, running between Dawson Creek, British Columbia all the way to Delta Junction, Alaska.
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Highway 37) serves as an alternative route to drive through northern British Columbia to the Yukon Territory, closer to the State of Alaska and is 544 miles long. It’s a scenic route through isolated areas and a great place for those who like to take pictures of nature and wildlife.
However, convenience stops are rare, so fill up the car tank at a gas station, consider taking an overnight stop if you see a motel, and eat if you see a restaurant.
If you want a memorable road trip to Alaska, then this might be the perfect route option for you!
Is it possible to avoid Canada on the route to Alaska?
It’s not possible to avoid driving through Canada on the route to Alaska. The reason is that the Alaskan Highway, which is the single connecting road from Alaska to other territories, and the alternative Stewart-Cassiar Highway both run through Canada.
In fact, depending on your starting location in the mainland US, you will most likely be driving on one of these highways for the majority of your journey, traveling through the province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory on your way.
What parts of Alaska can you drive to?
There are over 15,000 miles of accessible public roads in Alaska and various highways that run between the majority of the south and center areas, connected to locations you can visit.
Below are some places in Alaska that you can drive to.
- Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, renowned for its cultural sites
- Fairbanks, the largest and coldest interior city in Alaska
- Valdez, a popular destination for tourists
- Denali, features the tallest mountain peak in North America and the third most isolated peak in the world!
- Wasilla, the fourth biggest city in Alaska, with a strong homely community
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to drive all the way to Alaska’s Capital City of Juneau, and to access this, you’ll need to travel via ferry or plane.
When is the best time of year to drive to Alaska?
The best time to drive to Alaska is from May until September, with one reason being that more visitor services are open on the Alaskan Highway during this period than at any other time of year.
This is also a good time of year weather-wise, as you’ll have the most hours of daylight, and days are generally pleasant during the warmer months, meaning that if you plan to conquer a mountain peak or take a glacier cruise, this is the best time to do so.
However, Alaskan weather can turn at any moment, so it’s always good to be prepared for this.
Tips for driving to Alaska
- As you’ll be driving across and back through international border checkpoints, you’ll need your passport with you at all times.
- Not all rental vehicles are allowed on the Alaskan Highway, so check before your trip.
- You’ll need Canadian dollars and/or a credit card that works in Canada.
- Make sure to check weather reports before you start your journey, and prepare for colder temperatures.
How long it takes to drive to Alaska depends on your starting location, which border you choose to cross from the US into Canada, and which route you choose to take from the border to Alaska. Additional factors include the time of day you choose to drive, your speed, and how many stops you take.
The minimum time you can expect to drive for States located closer to the border is 5-6 days, and for States further away from the Canadian border, you’re looking at a seriously long road trip that will require a lot of energy and time, so in this case, taking a plane might be a more practical option.