The Perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary - Planning The Drive Of A Lifetime (2023)

Last Updated on December 9, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay

If you plan to drive to Alaska you have a lot of options for your Alaska road trip itinerary. Alaska is known as the Last Frontier. So getting there is an adventure in and of itself!

Most of Alaska is inaccessible by vehicle. This means you have to plan to get around via plane or boat.

But depending on your level of adventure, funds and Bucket List, you probably don’t need to worry about trying to reach all of those more difficult places.

In fact, if your goal is to travel to Alaska in an RV, then you’re likely looking to explore the part of the state you can reach by vehicle.

(If you just plan to tent camp or stay in hotels you can use our suggested itineraries. You just may need to plan your accommodations differently.)

Fortunately, most activities you would want to do in Alaska are close enough that you can drive to them.

Before we get into a few sample Alaska road trip itineraries let’s cover a few factors that will impact your drive in Alaska.

The Perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary - Planning The Drive Of A Lifetime (1)

Table of Contents hide

1The Ideal Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

2Factors That Impact Your Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

2.1Starting/Ending Location.

2.2Amount of time you have.

2.3Specific places you want to see

2.4Important things you want to do

2.5Your limits on driving time/distance

(Video) Watch this before you Travel Alaska | Your PERFECT guide to visiting Alaska | 5 Day Alaska Itinerary

2.6Other extenuating factors

3Alaska Road Trip Itineraries

4Tips / Things To Know About Driving In Alaska

4.1Breakdowns

4.2Wildlife

4.3Frost Heaves

4.4Speed Limits

4.5About Author

4.5.1Christopher Harvey

The Ideal Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

We believe that your ideal Alaska itinerary should include the following information.

Timeframe: 6-8 weeks

Time of Year: June – August

Starting Location: Glacier National Park, MT (or no further west than Spokane, WA)

Ending Location: Seattle area, WA

Key Places To Visit: Banff & Jasper National Parks (Canada), Alaska Highway, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, Kenai Peninsula, Homer Spit, Seward, Valdez, Haines, Cassiar Highway and Hyder.

(Video) 12 Things to Know Before Driving to Alaska

Key Things To Do: Drive the Dalton Highway (special advise required), see Mt. Denali in Talkeetna, play with reindeer in Palmer, camp on the beach at Homer Spit and Seward, go halibut fishing in Homer, watch sea lions, otters and bald eagles catch salmon in Valdez, search for grizzly bears in Haines and eat at “the bus” in Hyder.

Total Miles: Approx. 6,000 miles

Read on for more specific information to help you plan your perfect road trip to Alaska!

The Perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary - Planning The Drive Of A Lifetime (2)

WANT TO DRIVE THE INFAMOUS DALTON HIGHWAY?

Factors That Impact Your Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Planning your Alaska road trip itinerary can be daunting. Just reaching Alaska from the Lower 48 will take days and cover thousands of miles.

One you’re there, where do you go? Where CAN you go? What do you do? Where do you stay? For how long do you stay?

Understanding how the following points impact your Alaska road trip will help you craft your perfect trip!

Starting/Ending Location.

Our Alaska road trip itineraries are going to assume that you will begin your journey in the continental United States (Lower 48) in the northwestern half of the country (Montana, Idaho, Washington areas).

If you’re coming from Florida (as we did) or Maine, then add on extra time accordingly.

Our itineraries will be based on “border-to-border” starting and ending locations.

This means we’re guiding you from a US border crossing into Canada (say, from Glacier National Park in Montana) to a return US border from Canada (say, Seattle area).

We believe this is your best opportunity to see the best parts of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory on your way to/from Alaska.

Amount of time you have.

Alaska road trip itineraries are dependent on your time table.

Whether you’re trying to see Alaska during your two-week vacation, two-month summer vacation or retirement makes a big difference!

If you’re making the “border-to-border” drive to Alaska then we’d recommend no fewer than 6 – 8 weeks.

But it is possible to make the trip in 4 weeks if that’s all the time you have.

Further, our Alaska road trip itineraries are for travelers who will leave/return to the US and not those who will fly to Alaska and rent an RV there.

(Note: We do have a few sample itineraries in that case)

You’re going to want to decide how much time you have (if you even have time limits) before you decide all of the things you want to pack into your Alaska itinerary.

The Perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary - Planning The Drive Of A Lifetime (3)

READ MORE: Ultimate guide to planning your RV trip to Alaska

Specific places you want to see

Have you always wanted to see the Arctic Ocean? Maybe you’ve wanted to just see the Arctic Circle? Or what about visiting Mt. Denali National Park?

There are lots of places to see in Alaska. If you hash out a general list then that is a great place to start!

Need help hashing out a list? We’ve got suggestions for you!

(Video) Alaska Road Trip : Denali to Kenai Peninsula

If there are places you do and do not want to see, this will greatly impact the amount of time you need to complete your Alaska road trip.

For instance, we LOVE Hyder and think you should stop by to see Jim and Diana and have a fresh halibut sandwich at The Bus. But Hyder is a little out of the way if you are short on time.

Get started on that list!

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Important things you want to do

Do you want to watch a grizzly bear catch a salmon in its mouth? What about hooking on to a 100-pound halibut? Maybe you’ve just wanted to be one of the few (10% or less!) who get a clear view of Mt. Denai?

These things also impact your Alaska road trip itinerary. Again, get started on that bucket list!

Your limits on driving time/distance

Alaska is… well, it is HUGE! Driving distances and times are substantial – especially when you consider the “border-to-border” roundtrip.

Determining how far or how long you want to drive each day is important.

This will help you determine not only the important details of where to stay and when to refuel but also how much time you will spend in any given place.

Our ideal Alaska road trip itineraries are based on a comfortable 4-5 hour drive.

If you feel that’s not comfortable, or you want to get to/from Alaska faster or slower then we have a few options for you too!

Other extenuating factors

Do you have any upcoming appointments or important life events coming up like weddings or medical treatment?

Are you closing on the sale or purchase of a house in the near future?

We wouldn’t tell you to call off your Alaska adventure because of these things.

Just be aware that they might impact your Alaska road trip itinerary.

For example, Lindsay travels with Crohn’s Disease. At the time we drove to Alaska we only had 7 weeks.

This is because every 8 weeks she received an IV infusion to treat the disease. As such we left Washington state the day after her infusion and returned two days before her next one.

We would love to have spent more time in Alaska. But extenuating circumstances like these will impact your itinerary as well.

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Alaska Road Trip Itineraries

After you’ve answered some of those questions to help you understand the who, what, where, when, why and how of your road trip to Alaska, check out some sample itineraries that we have put together.

You already figured out, every itinerary is subject to change. Either you’ll change it. Or your circumstances will!

But at least you can get started on planning your perfect Alaska road trip itinerary!

Note: ALL of our itineraries include the following places: Alaska Highway, Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Palmer/Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula (Turnagain Arm, Anchor Point, Homer, Seward), Valdez, Haines and Hyder.

The only location we exclude in some itineraries is the infamous Dalton Highway. This drive is not for the faint of heart (or unprepared). You can find more information about driving the Dalton Highway here.

While we are trying to prepare you to be able to drive from “border-to-border,” we do understand that you might be planning to fly to Fairbanks/Anchorage to rent an RV.

If this is the case, you likely have less time than those of us driving from the Lower 48.

Here are a few sample itineraries for your journey:

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Tips / Things To Know About Driving In Alaska

Now that you have an idea of your Alaska road trip itinerary, here are a few tips that are going to help you enjoy the drive more.

Breakdowns

We had a few. You might too. These greatly change things. Depending on your vehicle/RV and your ability to fix it on the fly, your itinerary will change during a breakdown.

(Video) BIG PLANS for Summer 2022!!! Our 2022 ALASKA Itinerary "Adventure of a Lifetime" Introduction

We spent more time in some places we never heard of and less time in others because of break downs. But that’s OK. It all worked out as part of our journey!

NOTE: Breakdowns are inconvenient, stressful and potentially dangerous. We had the policy to help everyone we could when we saw a broken down vehicle and encourage you to do the same.

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Wildlife

Wildlife is, well, wild. Would you want it any other way?

On your drive to Alaska you will see moose, bear (black and grizzly), bison, elk, deer, fox and porcupine among dozens of other species.

But mind you, they don’t mind the roads.

Sadly you will likely see their carcasses scattered across the highway with accompanying brake marks in the road.

Be aware, even when there are no signs for wildlife there is always the possibility for it.

Hitting a moose will likely end your great Alaska road trip.

Frost Heaves

Sure they sound cute. But once you get into Alaska you will soon grow weary of them.

Frost heaves are subtle bumps, rolls, ridges and dips in the road that change your pace and make you pucker.

They are formed in the road when the ground freezes and the highway lifts up as the ice expands.

Don’t be afraid of them. But be aware. We drove with both hands on the wheel nearly every mile in Alaska because one sudden jolt by a frost heave could be enough to drive you off the side of the road.

Speed Limits

Most drivers forget that speed limits are “limits” and not “mandatories.” When you drive in Alaska, especially in an RV, you are likely not going to be driving at the speed limit (see Frost Heaves above!).

However, just because everyone around you might be zipping past you do not have to drive excessively fast. In fact, just make sure you are safely traveling over the minimum speed limits (sometimes posted).

Or, just drive at the pace you feel comfortable.

But do note that Alaska actually has a law that states that you must pull over if cars are piling up behind you. We did this frequently, especially along the Turnagain Arm on our way to the Kenai Peninsula.

Don’t be a jerk. Especially if there is a highway patrol officer behind you!

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About Author

Christopher Harvey

Christopher Harvey is the co-founder and main copywriter for Called To Wander. His passion is to create content that engages and informs readers and helps them to pursue the Abundant Life on the Road. Aside from writing, he also edits videos for the YouTube channel. He has freelanced for a variety of publications and consults with different brands on SEO and content strategy.

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(Video) THE ALASKA HIGHWAY (what to expect in 2022) | Alaska Road Trip

FAQs

How long does it take to drive all the way through Alaska? ›

While you can make the drive in as little as 3 days, we recommend planning for a week of driving so you can take your time and fully experience the stunning scenery, campgrounds, lodges, and wildlife along the way. Ready to start planning your journey North to Alaska?

How many days is Alaska sufficient? ›

How many days do you need for an Alaska vacation? The sweet spot for an Alaska vacation is seven to 10 days. If you're traveling on a land tour only, in seven days you can go all the way from Kenai Fjords National Park to Denali National Park with plenty of time for day-long guided excursions along the way.

How long does it take to drive the length of Alaska? ›

The 1,849 miles (2,976 km) can be covered in as little as 32 hours' worth of driving.

What is the most beautiful drive in Alaska? ›

A National Scenic Byway and widely hailed as one of the most scenic drives in Alaska, the Seward Highway leaves Anchorage southbound for the Kenai Peninsula, including the cruise ports of Seward and Whittier. The first 40 miles of the trip parallel Turnagain Arm, home for beluga whale, Dall sheep, and many trailheads.

What are the 3 most important items part of the itinerary? ›

Elements Of Itinerary
  • Tour Program. The main and most important element of an itinerary is a tour program. ...
  • Timetable. Another major component of itinerary is the timetable of the tour program. ...
  • Duration. Tangible goods are measured in weight, length etc. ...
  • Destination. ...
  • 4 As.

What is the best free route planner? ›

The best free route planners
  • Google Maps. Cost: Free. Stop limit: 10. ...
  • Mapquest. Cost: Free. Stop limit: 26. ...
  • RAC Route Planner [UK only] Cost: Free. Stop limit: 10. ...
  • Maps.me. Cost: Free. Stop limit: 10. ...
  • RouteXL. Cost: Free with paid upgrades. ...
  • Speedy Route. Cost: Free with paid upgrades. ...
  • TruckRouter [North America only] Cost: Free.
1 Mar 2022

What is the best free road trip planner app? ›

  1. Roadtrippers. Roadtrippers is one of the most practical and popular road trip planning apps out there. ...
  2. Google Maps. Every road-tripper needs a trusty navigation app in their arsenal, and Google Maps reigns supreme in that category. ...
  3. Waze. ...
  4. GasBuddy. ...
  5. Roadside America. ...
  6. iExit Interstate Exit Guide. ...
  7. HotelTonight. ...
  8. Airbnb.
19 Nov 2022

What is the best month in Alaska? ›

The best time to visit Alaska is between mid-June and mid-September. The warmer weather and long days make this a particularly pleasant time of year, with temperatures in the cool-but-comfortable range of 60 to 67°F.

What is the cheapest month to visit Alaska? ›

#3 – Travel during the Shoulder Season

If you're going to Alaska on a budget, May and September are your friend! (Pro tip: late winter is the best time to visit Fairbanks and to see the Northern Lights). In May and September it's easier to find lodging and lodging is often less expensive.

Is driving in Alaska difficult? ›

The drive to Alaska from the U.S. is very long and often secluded, which means long stretches of driving with little relief. This can make the trek difficult, especially if you are driving alone. Weather could also make the drive a bit tougher than normal.

What is the furthest point you can drive to in Alaska? ›

The Dalton Highway, a.k.a., the "haul road", is 414 miles long and connects the Elliott Highway (north of Fairbanks) to Deadhorse, Alaska -- the farthest north you can drive on Alaska's road system.

What is the most popular car in Alaska? ›

What Are the Best Selling Vehicles in Each State?
Top Selling Vehicle By State (2020)#1#2
AlaskaRam 1500-3500Ford F-Series
ArizonaRam 1500-3500Ford F-Series
ArkansasRam 1500-3500Ford F-Series
CaliforniaHonda CivicToyota RAV4
7 more rows
24 Sept 2021

What is the deadliest road in Alaska? ›

Dalton Highway: A Dangerous Stairway to the Arctic

Climbing from Fairbanks all the up to the Arctic Circle is one of our the most dangerous roads in Alaska: Dalton Highway, also known as Route 11. These 415 miles are so desolate that it has been dubbed the loneliest road in America.

What is the most scenic train ride in Alaska? ›

Most people that have traveled the entire Alaska Railroad system would likely agree that either the Denali Star route between Anchorage and Denali or the Coastal Classic Route between Anchorage and Seward is the most scenic. On a clear day, it hard to top the views of Mt. Denali from the train.

What should I not miss Alaska? ›

Unforgettable Alaskan Sights
  • 1.) Spot the “Big Five” ...
  • 2.) Catch sight of “The Mountain” ...
  • 3.) Witness the Iditarod or Yukon Quest. ...
  • 4.) Revel in the fall colors in Denali. ...
  • 5.) Experience the Northern Lights. ...
  • 6.) Take a “flightseeing” tour. ...
  • 7.) Go whale watching. ...
  • 8.) Visit a sled dog kennel.
1 Jun 2021

What are the five 5 basic tour components? ›

Back to Basics: Components of a Tour
  • Transportation. Most tours include transportation as part of the package. ...
  • Itineraries. Tours tend to use one of three types of itineraries: ...
  • Accommodations. ...
  • Meals. ...
  • Sightseeing. ...
  • Other Components. ...
  • Price.
20 Oct 2020

What are the dos and don ts in itinerary planning? ›

Dos and Don'ts of Sample Travel Itineraries

DO keep your sample travel itineraries to 2-3 days in length. DON'T overfill the schedule or put in exact times. Keep in mind that this is a sampling of what there is to do and see. The main purpose is just that – a sampling, not a detailed fill-in-all-the-blanks schedule.

What are the six main aspects of an itinerary? ›

Moreover, itinerary shows the sequence of the various tour ingredients and provides essential information such as assembling point, departure point, days of departure, duration of a tour, legal requirements, features of a destinations, optional activities, and meal and perhaps can be called as a central point for the ...

How do I design my own driving route? ›

Customize your route
  1. On your computer, open Google Maps.
  2. Click Directions .
  3. Click points on the map, type an address, or add a place name.
  4. Choose Options.
  5. Check the box next to "Tolls" or "Highways."

Does Google have a road trip planner? ›

You can use Google Maps as a trip planner through the "Places" and "My Maps" features. Both the Google Maps website and app let you save locations to lists, which you can then get immediate directions to. When getting directions, you can look up reviews and add multiple stops to your route.

What is the best online road trip planner? ›

The Best Road Trip Planning Tools
  1. Google Maps + My Maps. Price: Free. Link: Google Maps. Best For: Map Creator, Navigation. What is this? ...
  2. Roadtrippers App. Price: Free. Link: Roadtrippers. Best For: Planner, Maps, Navigation.
8 Dec 2022

What is the #1 travel app? ›

My number one go-to travel app is Google Maps. On the ground, it shows you where you are and how to get to where you need to go, whether by foot, public transit, car, or bicycle. Google Maps is equally helpful when you want to explore what's around, including hotels, restaurants, and gas stations.

How do I create a travel itinerary for free? ›

The best free online travel itinerary planners
  1. Itinerary planner apps, tools & websites: TripHobo. ...
  2. TripHobo. Don't know where to start with your trip planning? ...
  3. Roadtrippers. ...
  4. Itineree. ...
  5. Tripit. ...
  6. Pebblar. ...
  7. Rome2rio. ...
  8. Trip Bucket.
31 Mar 2021

Which app is best for tours and travels? ›

What is the best trip planner app? 6 top contenders
  • Skyscanner.
  • Airbnb.
  • HotelTonight.
  • TripIt.
  • LikeALocal.
  • PackPoint.
  • Tripadvisor.
  • Intrepid.
9 Jan 2022

What month is the rainiest in Alaska? ›

August is the wettest month in Alaska.

What month is best to see northern lights in Alaska? ›

The northern lights occur all four seasons of the year, although they are harder to see under the Midnight Sun. The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is between August and April, when less daylight leads to darker night skies.

What month is it light all day in Alaska? ›

For those two hours between sunrise and sunset, it's basically dusk or dawn because it never actually gets dark. This all-day daylight occurs from May 17 through July 27 in Fairbanks.

How far in advance should I plan a trip to Alaska? ›

Booking two to three months in advance is generally sufficient time to reserve everything you desire in these months. With cooler temperatures, iconic sites and tours are less crowded and somewhat less expensive than during the peak summer season. Day trips can usually be arranged closer to your travel dates.

What is Alaska warmest month? ›

July is peak season in Alaska and also typically the warmest month of the summer.

What is the best time of year to go to Alaska to see wildlife? ›

Spring (March–May) offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities before trees and other vegetation leaf out. Ptarmigan migrate to central Alaska river valleys in March. Millions of waterfowl and shorebirds return to the Stikine River Flats, Copper River Delta, and other wetlands in April.

What is the safest town in Alaska? ›

1. Haines. Alaska's safest city is located in the northern part of the panhandle near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. With only three reported violent crimes and 16 nonviolent crimes, it's easy to see how Haines makes the top of the list.

What are 3 things Alaska is famous for? ›

We are famous for the Iditarod, gold mining, sourdough, the Alaska Railroad, aviation, Alaska Native heritage, homesteading, world-class fishing and seafood, outdoor adventures, fresh air, and a slower, more self-sufficient way of life.”

Is Anchorage or Fairbanks better? ›

Overall Anchorage is the best choice when deciding where to start your trip. If you plan your visit for the Northern Lights, then Fairbanks is a better choice.

Can you talk on the phone while driving in Alaska? ›

While there are many forms of distracted driving, the use of a cell phone is usually regarded as the most dangerous distracting behavior drivers commonly engage in. While Alaska does not have a ban on cell phone for drivers, the state does ban all drivers from texting.

Is driving barefoot illegal in Alaska? ›

Alaska. Similar to Alabama, driving a motor vehicle barefoot in Alaska is allowed. But motorcycle riders must wear footwear with enough ankle support while riding.

Is driving to Alaska worth it? ›

What is this? Driving to Alaska MIGHT be worth it, or it might not. It is certainly a beautiful scenic drive and epic road trip adventure! It is also a long drive that takes a lot of time.

How rough is the Dalton Highway? ›

The driving surface is rough is the summer and winter, so it's important to drive a vehicle properly equipped for remote travel. Many rental car companies prohibit renters from driving their vehicles up the Dalton Highway, so be sure to check before you drive a rental car up this road.

Are there polar bears on the Dalton Highway? ›

Polar bears are known to traverse the Arctic region of Alaska and can be seen wandering the outskirts of Deadhorse at the terminus of the Dalton Highway.

What is difficult on the Alaska Highway? ›

The 1,520-mile road through Canada and Alaska is a magnet for adventurous travelers. There are some hardships: rough pavement, dust, mud, and long empty stretches between the few settlements supplying food, gas, and a place to stay.

What is a car Huck in Alaska? ›

Every 4th of July Alaskans gather together for their annual "Alaskan Car Huck" where the launch cars off of mountains! It's like a flying demolition derby. This annual event is held in the tiny town of Glacier View, Alaska with a population of only 375 residents, and it looks like they all show up for this!

What is the happiest looking car? ›

Here are 15 of the happiest looking cars you'll ever see.
  1. McLaren P1. All of the new McLarens have a smile like this one. ...
  2. Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite. You just wanna pet it, don't you?
  3. MINI Cooper. ...
  4. Volkswagen Beetle and Bus/Camper Van. ...
  5. Porsche Cayman. ...
  6. PT Cruiser. ...
  7. Bentley Mulsanne. ...
  8. Chrysler/GEM Peapod.
2 Sept 2015

Is it possible to drive all the way to Alaska? ›

A.) No, you can not drive all the way to Alaska without going through Canada. However, with the use of the Alaska Marine Highway, you can take your vehicle to Alaska without going through Canada – just a short 97 hours on the ferry.

How long would it take to go from one side of Alaska to the other? ›

It would take nearly 24 hours and 1,073 miles to travel from Homer, Alaska, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on the Arctic Ocean. North-south is the longest stretch of road in Alaska that you can travel in a substantially straight line.

Can Alaska be reached by car? ›

Alaska is most certainly American, but it's more than 2,000 miles away from the nearest state, Washington. Getting there with a vehicle requires either driving through Canada or taking a ferry. Both options boast unrivaled scenery and an adventurous experience, but require a little planning.

Is driving in Alaska easy? ›

Driving Alaska roads is easy whether you are in a car, minivan, camper or full-size RV. The majority of highways are paved with good surfaces and well maintained.

Can you cross from Alaska to Russia by boat? ›

It is virtually impossible for a westerner to receive permission to arrive on the Russian shores of the Bering Strait. An adventurer wishing to kayak, swim, walk over the ice, or sail from Alaska to Siberia across the Bering Strait would have to do so illegally.

Can you talk on the phone and drive in Alaska? ›

While there are many forms of distracted driving, the use of a cell phone is usually regarded as the most dangerous distracting behavior drivers commonly engage in. While Alaska does not have a ban on cell phone for drivers, the state does ban all drivers from texting.

Can you drive to Russia from Alaska? ›

How to get from Alaska to Russia by car? We have concluded that there are no roads in-between Alaska and Russia, but what if you are interested in traveling and maybe are on a round the world adventure in your car. The way to get across the Bering Straight is to either ship or fly your vehicle.

Do I need a Covid test to go to Alaska? ›

The State of Alaska has no travel testing requirements. However, pre-travel testing continues to be strongly encouraged for non-vaccinated travelers. Fully vaccinated travelers are not asked to test.

Do you need 4x4 to drive in Alaska? ›

Although studded tires are recommended for all types of vehicles, they are especially important if you are driving a 2-wheel drive car. If you live on a hill that frequently ices over, then you will probably have to upgrade to 4-wheel drive. Other than that, small cars can work great in Alaska.

Is life cheap in Alaska? ›

Alaska is one of the most expensive states to live in. Luckily, we've done the research and identified the cheapest places to live in Alaska. Most of its cities and towns consistently have a cost of living that is more expensive than the national average.

Do I need a passport if I'm driving to Alaska? ›

U.S. citizens flying between another state and Alaska do not need a passport. However, those driving through Canada or traveling on a ferry or cruise ship with stops in Canada are required to carry one.

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2. HDHP: Ted Waltman: “Routes to Alaska: Tips and a Lifetime of Scenery”
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4. How to Plan and Budget for an Alaska RV Trip & What it Cost Us to Go | Go North Explore More
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