A Long Drive Towards the Alaska Highway

alcan001We left Cochrane and our friends all too soon. But we have a long drive towards the Alaska Highway and are focused on making good time.

alcan023As we continue northward, I thought I would write a bit about our choice of route to Alaska.

There are two main highways across Canada towards Alaska – the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway from the West. The Cassiar ultimately meets up with the Alaska Highway.

alcan004There are four main roads leading to those highways. Both the Eastern Access Route through the Alberta plains and the Eastern Mountain Route through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta lead to the Alaska Highway. The Western Access Route through Vancouver to Whistler leads to the Cassiar Highway. And the Central Route through central British Columbia can lead to either the Alaska or the Cassiar Highway. Of course, there are many approaches that you can take from the States and Canada leading to these routes.

Finally, the Marine Highway from British Columbia through the Inside Passage in Alaska is a great alternative. Ferry service provides access to several towns that are only accessible by sea or plane and stops in several towns on mainland Alaska.

Why did we choose the Eastern Access Route through the Alberta plains?

We drove up the Pacific Coast last year and were looking to see new places. Also, we were concerned about possible windy and rainy conditions on the coast this early in the year (of course, on our route there was a possibility of cold and snow).

We decided to go to Yellowstone in early May to look for baby animals which meant crossing the border from Montana into Alberta.alcan010

Since we spent time in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta last year, we chose the plains route  which is a slightly faster, though admittedly less scenic route than the Eastern Mountain Route.

Today we decided to drive as long as possible – our usual goal down in the lower 48 is to drive no more than four hours in one day, but for this particular trip, we are making exceptions to our “rule”.

Today’s driving recap:

Road: Highway 22

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Conditions: Some smooth, parts had a few patches, some had lots of patches

Road: Highway 43

Road Type: 4-lane divided

Road Conditions: Smooth, parts had a few patches

Miles Today: 452 (the fourth longest drive since we started the walkabout)

Miles driven from Canadian border: 623

Driving Time: 8:30

alcan002alcan008alcan007alcan005The scenery was much the same as the rest of our route so far: gently rolling hills turning to largely flat agricultural land, passing small towns along the way. When we left Cochrane, the skies were gray, there was a thick fog and it was misting. After a few hours the sun came out.

We saw lots of farms and cows along the way as well as some buffalo.  As we continued north oil and gas installations began to dot the landscape.alcan003

We saw one coyote crossing the road, and later Hector saw two others.

alcan012We stopped at the Whitecourt Visitor Center. We like the visitor centers not only for the information they provide, but because they are usually good places to walk Angel.

And most of them have Wi-Fi. So we stopped and used the Wi-Fi for a little while.alcan017

We continued our drive and made it as far as Grande Prairie, Alberta. This is the largest town on our route and we are camped in the Walmart parking lot. Amazingly, we have access to Walmart’s Wi-Fi in the parking lot. Yay!

alcan024But when Hector walked to the car to take out the keys, he discovered that our sunroof had been completely shattered. We took a side road to check out a campground earlier and part of it was gravel (maybe a total of six miles roundtrip). Somehow, a rock must have bounced off one of the kayaks and shot directly down to our sunroof – a fluke. Aaargh!alcan026alcan021

Turns out that we are right next to a Subaru dealer so we will call tomorrow to see if we can have the repair done tomorrow. If not, Hector is going to create a makeshift cover, tape it down with duck tape and we will take care of it a month from now in Anchorage.

We will not, however, allow this to derail our plans. Tomorrow we head to Dawson Creek, the start of the Alaska Highway.

~ Brenda





14 thoughts on “A Long Drive Towards the Alaska Highway

  1. That’s too bad about your sunroof. Boy, that is huge hole. Very strange! Hope you were successful with a repair.

    Looks like a great start (except for the the roof). Your details of the journey are going to be so helpful, Brenda! Can’t wait to see the animal photos!!

    Be safe!

  2. Although we too try to keep our travel days under 4 hours, sometimes it’s worth it to just keep going. I’m excited to be following your travels and all the fantastic photography I know you’ll be sharing. Good luck with that sunroof… bummer.

    • I agree, you have to be somewhat flexible with those types of “rules”. We have a loooong way to go. Insurance should cover the roof, but we are going to have to do a temporary solution.

  3. It looked like you are being tested already! Bear it and grin it, its part o the journey. Glad that there was a Subaru dealer nearby and got you fixed up right away. Long miles and long hours are typical as you drive towards Alaska, we too forgot our rule when we were driving there.

    • We actually couldn’t get it fixed, it takes a week for the part to arrive – Hector made a temporary fix and we’ll get it fixed in a month. But we are definitely going with the flow!

  4. Another part of the continent that I am totally unfamiliar with. Love those visitor centers as well, they are usually so friendly and helpful.
    Having fun riding along! Thanks.

    • We are going to hang out a bit in Muncho Lake and Laird Hot Springs, looking forward to it.

  5. Doh! sorry to hear about the sunroof. I read your later post first so my “all going well so far” comment was before I saw this. Anyway, glad Hector was able to MacGyver a fix until Anchorage. Love the Angel smiling pic, keep ’em coming!

    • That’s so sweet, Russ. It’s actually weird, because we have been on much worse gravel roads in the past. But Hector’s MacGyver fix is actually quite nice! More Angel photos coming for sure.

  6. So sorry to hear about your sunroof. What a fluke that was! Thanks so much for all the information you are providing. I know it will come in handy when we plan our Alaska trip. Safe travels!

    • It was such a fluke, we have been on much worse gravel roads. Glad you will find the information useful!

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