My friends and I drove the Alaska Highway. . .  and we survived!

by Vic Battad, UPLB'68a


One of my hobbies is to take a long drive through the countryside once a year either with my family or my friends. The original plan for last year was to visit Vilma’s friends at Dawson Creek, BC to honour their invitation.  As I was doing some research about the place, I found out that Dawson Creek is Mile 0 of the world famous Alaska Highway. I searched further about the history of the Alaska Highway, and I became obsessed about driving the highway to see the 1,500 miles of highway built by 30,000 military and civilian personnel in just eight months --- one group starting at Delta Junction near Fairbanks, Alaska and the other group at Dawson Creek, British Columbia --- and eventually, would meet at one point. Later, the place where the two groups finally met was called Contact Creek. According to history, the Alaska Highway was built in 1942 in order to connect the 48 states (Mainland USA) to Alaska in case Alaska would be attacked by the Japanese and blocked the sea route.


The first leg of the journey was from Vancouver to Dawson Creek passing though the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo and the Hart highways and the cities of Cache Creek, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Prince George. It took us fifteen (15) hours to drive this 1,190 km or 750 mile stretch with three of us (together with my two friends) taking turns in driving.



The mighty Fraser River at the left side of the road is famous for salmon fishing in North America.

 Fraser Valley, an hour drive from Metro Vancouver, is the salad bowl and dairy farm of British Columbia.


Along Fraser River Canyon Highway


A tunnel in Hope, BC --- one of the eight tunnels along the Fraser Canyon Highway


The Hell’s Gate is a narrow and almost vertical cliff which claimed the lives of some members of the party of

Alex Fraser while exploring the mighty river and surveying the Pacific route for the Canadian National Railway.


After Cache Creek, the highway becomes the Cariboo Highway. It traverses the Fraser plateau where ranch lands abound. The Cariboo Region is a diverse land of dense forests, mountain lakes, arid lands, rugged canyons and open plains. It is also a part of the Gold Rush era.    



The Cariboo Highway       



The Stone Mountain National Park located northeast of Prince George. The Hart Highway crosses the Rocky

Mountain Trench at the Parsnip River. The road crosses the Rockies from west to east at Pine Pass. Rivers

on this side flow towards the Pacific Ocean and rivers at the other side flow to the Arctic Ocean.


From Prince George, we crossed the Pine Pass, sometimes called “The Gap” to go to the

 eastern side of the Canadian Rockies and reached Dawson Creek after 15 hours of driving.


We finally reached our first stop which was Dawson Creek, BC. Our generous hosts

 Tony Pega and wife Dorothy, also foresters from UP Los Banos, pose with Vilma.



Posing in front of the office of Tony Pega at Dawson Creek, BC


Trees line the Industrial Forest at Dawson Creek  


Canola fields, source of Canola oil, abound in Dawson Creek


Wind farm at Dawson Creek --- there are 38 of these wind mills in this farm. Each wind

turbine produces around 1.2 megawatts of power. Another wind farm with the same

magnitude is being built at the nearby town of Chetwynd.



Posing at the Mile 0 monument in windy Dawson Creek, BC


The second leg of the trip was the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek, BC to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory with a distance of 1,400 kms/875 miles (20 hours). During summer, there is daylight until 10 PM or 11 PM as you go further north, so one can travel longer. The route passes through the Peace River Region of British Columbia noted for its fertile valleys, pasture lands, great lakes and rivers, and rugged mountain ranges. The main products of the region are canola oil, lumber, petro oil, gas and beef.



The Alaska Highway under construction in 1942. The picture was preserved at the Dawson Creek Museum.



The Alaska Highway after it was built during World War II.


The Alaska Highway now --- paved all the way from BC to Alaska.


From Fort Nelson (100 miles from Dawson Creek), one starts to get a feeling of excitement for the great expanse traversed by the Alaska Highway. Be alert to watch out for wandering wildlife like wild buffalo or bison, deer, caribou, moose, bear, etc.


A view of the Peace River Plateau.

The dotted red/white line beside the bridge is a gas pipeline to Prince Rupert along the Pacific Ocean



Situated at Mile 300 on the Alaska Highway is Fort Nelson.


Fort Nelson is a major town and stopover destination for travellers leaving British Columbia for the Yukon and Alaska beyond. Named after Admiral Nelson, the original settlement in Fort Nelson was a North West Company fur trading post, established in 1805.


Fort Nelson's economy was once based on the fur trade, but the modern thriving community of today relies heavily on lumber and natural gas as the mainstay of its economy, with an increasing emphasis on transportation and tourism.       





 Photos of lakes and mountains along the way.

These are favourite camping grounds or rest areas for campers travelling the Alaska Highway. 








Different wildlife that we saw along the way.

 This place is sometimes called the “Serengeti of North America”. 



Yukon Territory takes its name from the Loucheux Native name Yu-kun-ah for the "great river" which drains most of its area. It shares a common border and many characteristics with its American neighbour, Alaska. Historically, it is associated with the great Klondike gold rush.  The Yukon Territory covers 483,450 square kilometres in the far north western part of mainland Canada. The Yukon province is large enough to hold the four states of California, Arizona, Delaware and West Virginia.



Teslin Lake in Yukon is 92 miles long. At the north end of the lake is the Nisutlin Bay Bridge,

the longest water span on the Alaska Highway at 584m/1,916 ft.


The SS Klondike was used to ferry prospectors and miners during the Gold Rush. It is now a museum at

 Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory. There were quite a number of Filipinos at Whitehorse, mostly

 working at department stores like Canadian Tire and fast food outlets.


Enjoying a coffee break at Whitehorse, Yukon Territory with our friends Rica and Ding.

 Rica’s husband, Jun, the other driver, was the one taking the picture.



Part of the Alaska Mountain Range as seen from Yukon



The third and last leg of the trip was from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Anchorage, Alaska, covering 1,150 kms/720 miles (14 hours). The route was generally downhill from Yukon to Anchorage, Alaska.




Road to Alaska after crossing the Yukon-Alaska (Canada-US) border. Right, the Alaska Mountain Range


The white streak in the background  is  the 27-mile long moving Matanuska Glacier

 as seen from Glenn Highway and about two-hour drive from Anchorage


Along the scenic road to Seward, Alaska. At the back is the Turnagain Arm (inlet) and the Kenai Peninsula,

 the playground of Alaska and location of the city of Homer, the Halibut capital of the world.


Portage Lake and Portage Glacier in the background.


Seward Harbor and the Kenai Mountain Wildlife Refuge at the back.


     Road to Fairbanks, Alaska. At the background is Denali National Park where Mt. McKinley,

 the highest peak in North America, is located.





Denali National Park



 City of North Pole in Alaska, south of Fairbanks.



 Driving back to British Columbia  . . .



Some of the winning sculptures during an international competition at Chetwynd, BC





Back to Fraser Valley in BC . . . Home Sweet Home.






Q & A



Vic Battad's narration and pictures of his Alaskan highway adventure are very nice and it ignited the adventurous part of me.

May i know from Brod Vic, how long it took them, will two weeks be enough, what is the best time of the year to follow his footsteps, available amenities, ie lodging houses, gasoline stations on the way, vehicle type, tips he can give on planning the travel, other important infos he can share.

Thanks and cheers.

Ed Abon, 2-22-12 



We took the trip in August 2011 --- summer is the best time to travel to Alaska as there is plenty of daylight and it's not that cold. If you want to see the awesome Aurora Borealis or "dancing lights" though, you have to sacrifice and make your travel the fall or late October.

We took the trip from Vancouver to Alaska in just ten days, really hectic, with 6 days travel time back and forth: the first leg was up to Dawson Creek, BC and then we had a one-day rest/sightseeing in the area which is called Mile 0. After a full day's rest, we three drivers took turns with the wheel, driving straight all the way to Anchorage, Alaska. It was night time when we reached Yukon that we deemed it better to proceed as we were very excited to reach Alaska. Then we rested and spent two days in the beautiful places of Alaska, driving around Anchorage, then to Seward, to Fairbanks, etc. up to the town of North Pole. Those places and sights were really worth the long drive. When we drove back home, we spent the night in Whitehorse (capital of Yukon) and enjoyed one full day of sightseeing in the area. Then, we started driving in the morning and spent the night in Dawson Creek before we proceeded back home to BC.

When you travel to Alaska, you can also opt to take a one way trip driving a rental vehicle and then flying the other way (starting to drive either in Anchorage or in Vancouver). You can take things easy this way and and not be in a hurry and you get to see and enjoy more of the sceneries and museums in the towns and cities that you pass along the way, unlike our trip --- time was really short. Imagine that you're like driving from Vancouver to Ontario or from Washington to New York, which is almost the same distance and you're driving for only three days, which is really hectic.

We were not really familiar with the route except for the information that we have read so, we opted to use the seven-seater V-8 Dodge Durango of my friend --- for the power and speed, just in case. We were surprised that the road was very good and well paved with just some few rough roads. The road gradient was just favorable, hence, most of the travelers we saw use recreation vehicles (RVs). There are RV parks along the way and some would just park along the road following the lake shoreline. We presume they had been traveling this route many times and were familiar with the situation. Those people were very helpful, pleasant to talk with and cooperative, especially when they found out that we're from the lower mainland in Vancouver, BC.

Most of the towns along the way have hotels, inns and gasoline stations but, the major cities are quite far apart (400-500 kms or 250-300 miles), so whenever we had the opportunity, we always filled-up our gas tank. There are gas stations and eateries in between these major cities but they close shop early. If your vehicle has a small gas tank, it's bettter that you bring a 5-gallon jetty, to be safe. Also, bring with you some food and water. Better yet, browse thru the internet for more info before you embark on this wonderful adventure!

Vic Battad, 2-23-12



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