Nowadays the Route 66 lies abandoned in most places and isn't suitable for highway traffic. That leaves the door open for a new favorite highway for travelers.
The Alaska Highway
Originally built to help American forces get supplies to Alaska during the second World War, the Alaska Highway is now the only way to get to Alaska on land. The drive is long, 1,382 miles, but is now one of the highways to drive in the world.
Here are 6 reasons you need to drive the Alaska Highway.
1. Roadside Attractions
All along the Alaska Highway you'll find signs for Provincial Parks and hiking trails, and you'll see tons of aqua rivers and lakes. They aren't quite like the neon signs drawing you into an attraction like on Route 66, but you'll enjoy the natural views while you stretch your legs.
Shortly after entering the Yukon Territory you'll come across Watson Lake. It's a little town that's famous for Sign Post Forest. Sign Post Forest is just one of the many bits and pieces of history you'll find on the Alaska Highway.
After being injured in the war, Carl K. Lindley spent time in Watson Lake while he recovered. A commanding officer gave him the task of fixing the directional sign post, and while he was fixing it he added a sign with mileage to his hometown of Danville, Illinois. Other followed suit, and in 1990 a couple from Ohio posted the 10,000th sign. Now there are over 80,000 signs in Sign Post Forest, and that number grows every year as more and more people place their own signs.
3. Free Zoo
The best place to see animals is at a zoo. At times, the Alaska Highway feels like a zoo. There are signs posted all over for bear, moose, elk, caribou, and bison crossings. I think we see them all the time in the Lower 48, but I hardly ever see that animal crossing the road. Be prepared to slow down on the Alaska Highway, because you might find yourself waiting for a herd of animals to cross the road.
4. Picturesque Camping
Taking your eyes off the road for a minute will give you the chance to potentially spot the best campsite you've ever grabbed. Before setting out, a friend of mine told me to be on the lookout for dispersed camping by bridges. And 9 times out of 10, you'll see a beautiful campsite right off the road, down by the river.
5. You Don't Have to Drive
Aside from the wildlife on the highway, there are also cyclists, skateboarders, and others using human powered forms of transportation. To my surprise, the Alaska Highway is actually quite smooth. And you know those skis with wheels on the bottom that were popular back in the '90s? A friend of mine told me ski skating the Alaska Highway is totally doable.
6. Diverse Landscape
A drive through British Columbia Canada, through the Yukon Territory, and into Alaska will give you the chance to see so many different landscapes. One minute you're driving by a turquoise lake and the next you're driving by the plains watching bison graze on the grass. And be ready to watch the light change. During the summer you'll notice real quick that the days are long, nights are short, and you need to be awake to gawk at the beauty as you watch the sun rise and set over the northern landscape.
*Photos courtesy Justin Fricke.
Have you driven the Alaska Highway? What suggestions do you have?