When you hear Alaska, you likely think of a cold, tundra with heavy snowfall but gorgeous views. You may also think about the fact that Alaska is a bit different from the rest of the United States as it is actually not physically united with the rest of the states at all. If you have ever viewed the United States on a globe, you would see that Alaska is attached to Canada, not the U.S. This means the state can be reached by car, but not incredibly conveniently since you would have to drive through Canada to reach Alaska.
This means if you are planning a visit sometime soon, a road trip would likely be a long trek from most parts of the U.S. If you instead decide to fly into the state but still want the freedom to drive yourself around to view the beauty, we suggest you rent a car and follow our guide with tips and tricks to make the driving easier!
Understanding Alaska Roads
While the state may differ greatly in terms of its environment in comparison to many others in the continental U.S., the roads are actually quite similar. Unless the roads are impacted by snow, the terrain is fairly easy to navigate. The average road in Alaska is two-lane and is generally passable year-round. In Alaska, headlights must be on at all times on most roads.
Some roads in Alaska are gravel rather than paved. If you rent a car, be sure to confirm that the vehicle can be driven on gravel roads, as many companies only allow driving on paved roads.
Be Aware of Wildlife
Probably the biggest difference between driving in Alaska versus driving in other parts of the United States has to do with the wildlife all around. Most of the state is full of rich nature with only select areas being made metropolitan. This means wildlife is everywhere and is quite active. It is not unusual to have moose, caribou, bears, and so many others just walk in front of or around your vehicle.
Prepare for the Season You are There
Driving in the summertime differs largely from driving in the wintertime in Alaska. In the summer, construction projects tend to be worked on, creating more roadblocks and traffic. In winter, there is often heavy snow. If you still insist on driving, make sure your vehicle has chains or studded tires to cut through the snow.