America and Canada provide everything a road tripper needs for an amazing travel experience. From wide-open plains, towering forests, and breath-taking mountain ranges, both countries offer incredible itineraries, but to fully appreciate their similarities and contrasts, why not combine both? The best way to experience this is by taking a trip through Western Canada, and up to the northernmost US territory of Alaska. This inspirational trip offers a taste of amazing city experience in the beginning and sends you deeper into nature as you progress.
Begin at the Border
What better place to begin than America’s famed Emerald City, Seattle? Spend a day in the capital of the Pacific-Northwest before crossing the border. Go to Pikes Place Market for fresh seafood and craft goods, check out Olympic Sculpture Garden for a taste of Seattle’s thriving art culture, and ride to the top of the Space Needle to take in views of the entire city. Hop on the road for a quick two and half hour jaunt up to Vancouver (avoid hitting border traffic by leaving early in the morning or later in the evening). The largest city in British Columbia, Vancouver will be your last chance for urban excitement on this trip, so get it while you can! Visit the English Bay for some incredible skyline views and culture of this Canadian metropolis.
Into The Wild
Now it’s time to leave the city in the rear-view. With 1,800 miles ahead of you to Alaska, often with long periods between services preparation is crucial, so make sure your vehicle is well-maintained. Prepare an emergency kit with water and food. Cell phone service will be limited or nonexistent for many durations, so have a map handy or offline GPS app such as Maps.Me downloaded. The drive north through British Columbia is a feast for the eyes as you pass through sky-scraping mountain ranges and evergreen forests. A plethora of scenic points and trailheads adorn the roadside, photo-ops and wonderful hikes through nature are abundant. You’ll pass through historic landmarks such as the Fur Trading Center at St. James and the Xatśūll Heritage Village.
The Alcan Highway
As you venture further north, the road runs parallel to Alaska. However, you’ll have to continue into the Yukon Territory to merge with the Alcan Highway and cross the Alaskan Border. Stop for a night in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon and experience life in this historic oil town. The final Alcan stretch into Alaska is quite barren, although plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife exist. Bison, black bear, elk, and moose inhabit the surrounding area, and will often travel along the road.
300 miles from the Yukon you’ll reach the Alaskan border. Once across, you now have the northernmost part of America at your disposal. Go off-road on the Denali Parks Highway for a straight shot to Denali National Park. Continue south to visit the city of Anchorage, the magical Kenai Peninsula (rated the most scenic drive in Alaska), or press on to the capital of Juneau. If you’d rather see the top of the world, drive north to Barrow and step foot in the Arctic circle.
The trek north to America’s largest state offers many possibilities. With so much to choose from, there’s plenty to inspire future road trips and excursions. With so much beauty to explore, the drive through British Columbia to Alaska is an adventurers dream.