Sometimes our road trip planning consists of packing a few items and fueling up the car, before heading on a spontaneous journey to who knows where. But not when it comes to driving the Alaska Highway. This is a travel adventure that requires months of planning. And sometimes the information isn’t easy to come by. Just ask anyone who’s tried to book lodging on the Alaska Highway or one if its tributary roads. Emails go unanswered or phone messages are never returned because businesses come and go so quickly and the listing you found on the Internet is no longer correct. But I have the answer for you in two words—The Milepost.
Last year, when Alan and I announced on the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook that we were going to drive the Alaska Highway and some of its tributaries, comments and advice came flooding in. Viv and Jill of Wave Journey told us we absolutely needed a copy of The Milepost if we were traveling the roads in Alaska, British Columbia or the Yukon.
As luck would have it, the folks at Morris Communications Copany offered a copy for our review. When the book arrived at our Montana headquarters, Alan and I quickly realized why it’s called “the bible of North Country travel.”
We would have never discovered those delicious chocolate chip cookies at Beautiful Downtown Chicken if not for reading about them in The Milepost. And the advice for arriving early at the ferry in Dawson City helped us avoid driving behind the tour buses on Top of the World Highway.
This comprehensive tome includes introductory sections to every major attraction in the North Country. Chapters are also dedicated to the Alaska Marine Highway and other ferry information, including schedules. Of course maps are included—100+ maps to be exact plus a 21″ x 31″ pull-out map—but it’s the mile by mile highway log of every single route that is the most beneficial to road trippers. That’s why we kept the book opened and ready in the front seat of our truck during the month-long trip.
The Milepost also offers a digital version. We recommend having both a hard copy and a digital copy.
Advertising is included in each edition and this is one time that you’ll appreciate it. As I discovered when researching this trip, finding lodging, restaurants and attractions is not all that easy for this remote part of the world. Many businesses don’t have an internet presence. But you can pretty much be guaranteed that any business that you would want to know about has paid to be listed in The Milepost.
Each year, the Milepost staff updates the 700-plus page book, which is why you need a current copy. But they don’t just call around to travel providers or government agencies to confirm information. The staff physically drives the 30 major routes and 60 side trips included in the book notating changes in road conditions, businesses that no longer exist, new lodging and dining opportunities or anything else that they think you need to know before traveling in the North Country of the U.S. and Canada.
Our Alaska Highway road trip officially began on the Prince Rupert Ferry when we cruised up the Inside Passage from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert in British Columbia on the Canadian mainland. And did Alan and I ever luck out. Kris Valencia, editor of The Milepost for the last 30 years, happened to be traveling the same route—checking it out mile by mile, of course—in one of the publishing company’s distinctly marked camper vans. When Kris invited me to join her in the ferry’s cafeteria for a cup of coffee, I had the chance for an impromptu interview with her about driving in Alaska and Canada.
Me: Which is the best route to see wildlife?
Kris: The Watson Lake and Kluane area are good, especially for bear sightings.
Me: Which route is the most scenic?
Kris: Seward Highway, which travels from Anchorage to Seward, is a National Forest Scenic Byway, All-America Highway and Alaska Scenic Byway.
From The Milepost:“The Seward Highway follows Turnagain Arm through Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest, and offers spectacular views of the glaciated Kenai Mountains.”
Me: Do you have a personal favorite when driving the Alaska Highway?
Kris: Kluane Lake to Haines Junction is my first choice. In late May, you’ll still see ice on the lake. My second choice is Muncho Lake, with views of the Northern Rockies.
Me: What are the must sees on an Alaska Highway road trip?
Kris: Denali Park, Hatcher Pass near Palmer and Kennicott/McCarthy in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Me: Do you have advice for first time visitors to the Alaska Highway?
Kris: “Take it slow. When I slowed down, it was an epiphany.”
The 2014 edition of The Milepost has just been released, available for purchase on The Milepost site or on Amazon. If you’re planning a trip to the Alaska Highway or one of the many routes in British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska that are included in the book, you’ll definitely want a copy for planning your trip.
Read the entire collection of Alaska Highway road trip articles to plan your own trip. Boomer adventure guaranteed.
Have you traveled on the Alaska Highway? Did you bring along a copy of The Milepost? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.
Disclosure: Morris Communications Company provided a copy of The Milepost for my review, but the opinions are my own.
Also, we have included an Amazon link to The Milepost for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet does receive a small percentage of your purchase, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for keeping us in business.