denali national park alaska

Adventure FACTS

plowing snowy alaska roadInteresting facts about a region of the country that is rough and unforgiving. This is at least what the travel books say. We will attempt to identify facts a little more personal to us as we make this adventure our own.

Alaska facts

  1. Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784.
  2. In 1867 United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska.
  3. Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.
  4. The state of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
  5. Prudhoe Bay, on the northern Alaskan coast, is North America’s largest oil field.
  6. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on its 800 mile journey to Valdez.
  7. The fishing and seafood industry is the state’s largest private industry employer.
  8. Dog mushing is the official state sport. The Alaska Legislature adopted it in 1972.
  9. The state motto is North to the Future.
  10. The jade is the official state gemstone.
  11. Gold is the official state mineral. It was named the state mineral in 1968.
  12. Alaska’s Constitution was adopted in 1956 and became effective in 1959 making it the 49th state.
  13. Nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.
  14. The state boasts the lowest population density in the nation.
  15. Alaska is the United State’s largest state and is over twice the size of Texas. Measuring from north to south the state is approximately 1,400 miles long and measuring from east to west it is 2,700 miles wide.
  16. At 20,320 feet above sea level, Mt. McKinley, located in Alaska’s interior, is the highest point in North America.
  17. Juneau is the only capital city in the United States accessible only by boat or plane.
  18. The state’s largest city is Anchorage; the second largest is Fairbanks.
  19. The Alaska Range is the largest mountain chain in the state. It covers from the Alaska Peninsula to the Yukon Territory.
alaska state tourist map

Travel Maps

Our adventure can be broken into three big chunks…  After all this is Alaska so they have to be Big chunks as shown on this Alaska state tourist map.

Alaska Marine Highway Alaska’s Inside Passage treats you to spectacular natural beauty, an unmatched variety of wildlife, plus a rich mixture of Native, Early Russian and Gold Rush history. For those of us coming from the “lower 48”, the trip north to Alaska on the marine highway begins at Bellingham, WA. At the northern end of the route, Haines, AK. links us to the Alaskan Highway.

Alaska is a vast land, well deserving of the title, “The Last Frontier.” The majesty stretches from the lush forests of the Inside Passage to the open tundra of the North Slope, from the borders of British Columbia to the windswept Aleutian Islands. We will start by exploring these far flung communities by driving Alaska’s “other” highway.

Haul Road The 424-mile Dalton Highway begins at Mile 73 on the Elliott Highway, 84 miles north of Fairbanks. The Dalton Highway is unique in its scenic beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities, but it is also one of Alaska’s most remote and challenging roads. Not for the timid or the unprepared. The Dalton Highway is one of the last great adventure roads in the United States. If you have the right vehicle and plan ahead, it can be one of the most satisfying drives of a lifetime. Mostly gravel, two lanes, hilly in places, bumpy in many, lonely with few service facilities along the way. Motorists need to watch for ruts, rocks, dust in dry weather, potholes in wet weather and trucks and road maintenance equipment at all times. For a more in depth look at Haul Road see “The Haul Road” is the road trip.

ALCAN Construction of this highway officially began on March 8, 1942 and ended eight months and 12 days later on October 25, 1942. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 deemed the construction of the highway was a military necessity. Alaska was considered vulnerable to a Japanese invasion.

The Alcan Highway stretches in a northwesterly direction from mile 0 at Dawson Creek, BC through Yukon Territory to mile 1520 at Fairbanks, AK. The Alcan highway does not compare with highways in the lower 48, it is no longer a wilderness road, but rather a road in the wilderness. The highway is open and maintained year-round.

The highway is asphalt-surfaced, but the condition ranges from poor to excellent. There are many chuckholes, gravel breaks, poor shoulders, and bumps.

color map of alaska regions


For me really good road trips have always had the freedom to be spontaneous. You shouldn’t have to worry about where you are going that day, how you are getting there or where you are staying when you get there. If you come to a side road with the worlds largest ball of twine at the end, run down and see it because you never know when you will have that chance again.

I think of the itinerary below as our guiding principles, with a few hard facts. We leave August 24. We are taking the Alaska Marine Highway ferry up to Haines and the ferry will leave without us if we don’t show up on time. We need to be back around September 7th, and of course we’re going to the Arctic Circle, and than some.

A few folks are now suggesting to us that Inuvik is a more interesting choice than Deadhorse as a northern destination. Leave comments and let us know where you would go. We have the freedom on this trip to run a social experiment where the people of the blog guide its outcome and literally set the direction.

1 & 2Poulsbo, WA. USA1032Haines, AK. USA
3Haines, AK. USA438TOK, AK. USA
4TOK, AK. USA456Coldfoot, AK. USA
5Coldfoot, AK. USA242Deadhorse, AK. USA
6Deadhorse, AK. USA242Coldfoot, AK. USA
7Coldfoot, AK. USA255Fairbanks, AK. USA
8Fairbanks, AK. USA416Burwash Station, YT. Canada
9Burwash Station, YT. Canada283Teslin, YT. Canada
10Teslin, YT. Canada331Muncho Lake, BC. Canada
11Muncho Lake, BC. Canada431Dawson Creek, BC. Canada
12Dawson Creek, BC. Canada399Williams Lake, BC. Canada
13Williams Lake, BC. Canada417Poulsbo, WA. USA

Of course plans are meant to change and who knows where else we’ll explore on this adventure… all we know is that it will change for one reason or another.