Places to Visit Along the Alaska Highway
The Alaska Highway, also known as the ALCAN (Alaska-Canada) Highway, comprises the single land-based route to and from Alaska. Although proposals for such a highway stretch back as far as the 1920s, it was not until 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that construction commenced in earnest and at a rapid pace. The southern end of the highway begins at the intersection of Highways 2 and 97 in Dawson Creek, British Colombia. Although it is commonly thought that the highway ends in Fairbanks, Alaska, it truly ends in Delta, Junction, Alaska about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks. The drive from Delta Junction to Fairbanks is only about 90 miles on the Richardson Highway (AK-2).
After the conclusion of the Second World War, the successive decades saw the Alaska Highway evolve into more than just a road but also a sightseeing attraction. There are many interesting locations and points of interest between Fairbanks and the Canadian border alone. Alaska-Wildlife-Guide offers all-day Beauty of the North Tour which specialize on attractions between Fairbanks and Delta Junction such as: Summit Lake, The Knotty Shop, Big Delta State Historical Park, Sullivan’s Roadhouse and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
One such quirky attraction is the Knotty Shop in the community of Salcha just 30 miles southeast of Fairbanks. The Knotty Shop is a unique woodworking shop featuring birch wood carvings as well as a variety of local art. Be sure to check out their walking sticks made from diamond willow. On your way out, grab a scoop of Interior Alaska’s most delicious ice cream!
As your cruising down our bumpy yet modern highway, you might be asking yourself, “How did people get around in Alaska before the automobile?” Well, the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum in Delta Junction can shed some light on this topic. Originally located along the Delta Creek, this homestead was used by the Valdez-Fairbanks Winter Stage Line as a checkpoint along a winter route that cut 35 miles off the total journey length. The original site was a complex of five buildings operated by the Sullivans until about 1922. The site was abandoned by the Alaska Road Commission in 1925 and moved off of what later became military land and closer to the current road system and town of Delta Junction in 1997. The original building was disassembled and new and original logs were used to rebuild it next to the Delta Junction Visitors Center. It is a must-see for anyone interested in Gold Rush history Jack London wrote about.
Tourists to Alaska are often taken aback by the vast landscapes the Alaska Highway snakes through. How difficult would it have been to cut through the Alaska taiga and treacherous wilderness to construct such a seemingly endless road? What many are surprised to see is an engineering achievement that stretches longer than the Alaska portion of the Alaska Highway and is often sighted right along side the Alaska Highway. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline stretches 800 miles in length from Prudhoe Bay in the North to Valdez in the south. Half of its length is submerged due to constantly changing soil and rock consistency but much of the above-ground visible half parallels the Alaska Highway. There are several good viewing locations right alongside the Alaska Highway before the pipeline dips south towards Valdez.
Now that it’s evident that the Alaska Highway is not just for traversing on the way to Fairbanks or into Canada but also for enjoying, how will you see its sights? For road trippers and motorhome enthusiasts, it might be best just to plot out rest stops at or near interesting locations and see the sites on your way in or out. In 2020, with the Canadian border currently closed to non-citizens, it might be best to start in Fairbanks and see the sites on a day tour that begins and ends in Fairbanks. Alaska-Wildlife-Guide has just the thing: The Beauty of the North Tour. Let our guides handle the driving and provide local insight into the history of Alaska while we take you and your family on an unforgettable adventure.