All things considered it's pretty easy to vacation in Alaska with a rental car. There aren't that many roads and we drive on the right side of them. In some cases you might go a long way between towns and services, but the views are pretty great. Plus, some of the best loved places in the state are road accessible. Just take note of our short list of driving tips for Alaska travelers and get on your way.
1. Our Highways Go by Names Not Numbers…
You won't find an I-40 or 101 in Alaska. While our highways do technically have numbers, nobody knows them. Instead it's good to be familiar with their given names as you get around. These are the four main highways you're likely to drive on an Alaska vacation:
- Seward Highway - Between Anchorage and Seward by way of Girdwood
- Glenn Highway (aka "The Glenn") - Between Anchorage and Tok by way of Palmer and the Matanuska Glacier
- Richardson Highway - Between Valdez and Fairbanks by way of Copper Center
- Parks Highway - Between Anchorage and Fairbanks by way of Talkeetna and Denali National Park
2. …And You Can’t Drive Some of Them in a Standard Rental
Most rental car companies do not permit their vehicles on the Denali Highway, Dalton Highway, and McCarthy Road. If you'd like to drive these more remote gravel "thoroughfares" (recommended!), then you'll need to rent a special 4x4 vehicle. Read more about Alaska's banned highways here.
3. The Milepost is a Must
The Milepost is an incredibly thorough mile-by-mile breakdown of major roads and byways in Alaska and western Canada. You'll find everything from road conditions (i.e. frost heaves at Mile 208 on the Parks Highway) to roadside coffee stops. Published annually, it's aptly known as the "The Bible of North Country travel." Bonus, it makes a great trip souvenir! Find more info here.
Considering a self-drive Alaska vacation? You can book it all plus the rental car easily with Alaska Tour & Travel.
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At Alaska Tour & Travel, we specialize in building custom trips for every timeline, personality, and budget. If you'd like to have an Alaskan plan your Alaska trip, give us a call at 800-208-0200.