Driving the AlCan 2021
Log for 2021 Alcan Drive, aka Dawn and Dana’s Excellent Adventure. Covid-19 has made nothing easier but it has not made everything impossible, either. [All photos by Dawn.]
May 9, 2021
First day–Got to Sumas, Washington at 9am, across the border by 11am. Four cars/campers/RVs in front and behind.
Very nice, very efficient Canadian border officer (who let us use the bathroom, bless his kind heart, although we’re pretty sure his main motivation was that he didn’t want us to stop to pee in the town he lived in, spreading our germs all over the place). No problem with me driving home with my niece (she’s going to a job in Palmer, I’m along to take turns driving, we’re both Alaskans).
Our ArriveCan receipts showed up when he ran our passports.
We took our first Canada covid test at the border (much easier and more efficient than trying to navigate it via a Zoom call with a Canadian nurse over possibly iffy hotel wifi that evening). Covid tester very pleased with us that we had already signed up for Switch Health.
Both the border officer and the covid tester told us that if our tests are negative (from the covid test taken at the border) and we are in Canada for less than 8 days we don’t have to take the second Canadian test. We’ll get an email or a text en route with the test results.
We MUST (border officer emphasized) drop off the travel authorization he gave us at Canadian Customs post ten miles before US Customs at Beaver Creek or terrible things will happen to us.
Left rain in Seattle, sun broke out in Sumas and stayed with us to Williams Lake. Lord, is the Fraser River drive gorgeous. And so to bed.
May 10, 2021
Day 2 — Left Williams Lake at 7am, arrived Dease Lake 9:30pm. Looong day but sunny, gorgeous drive. 97North/6West in great shape with manageable traffic. Shout out to Canadian traffic engineers for enough passing lanes, tons of rest stops, and excellent signposting. Come to the Kenai Peninsula to show us how to do it right!
37North not as well maintained but still good going with much less traffic and heart-stopping views (looked up from reading about the Seven Sisters in the Milepost to see all seven of them facing us through our windshield). Snow off the road but road itself dry as a bone. Saw deer, moose, raptors including bald eagles, and right out of Kitwanga black bears everywhere all with those lush, shiny, yep-I-just-woke-up coats.
And if the Canadians put a bounty on bugs splatted we could have paid for the entire trip.
Received emails that both our Canadian covid tests were negative.
May 11, 2021
Day 3—Dease Lake 37N to Whitehorse 1/97W. Mountie met us at junction, asked for ID and destination, passed us on to two others who had us fill out a declaration for entry form and we were good to go. We have 24 hours to get over the Alaska border.
Rainy snow Dease Lake to 37/1 Junction, clear and sunny by Whitehorse. Major paving operations in two places between junction and Teslin, 15 minute waits for pilot car both times. Otherwise very little traffic until Whitehorse, which, wow, has changed since I saw it last–lots of construction. Saw lynx/elk/moose/Arctic tern/swans/marmot/porcupine/bald eagles.
May 12, 2021
Day 4–Left Whitehorse 5:15a YT, arrived Anchorage 6:42p AST. Snowed all the way around Kluane Lake and then mostly clear most of the rest of the way. Condition of road from Burwash Landing to Beaver Creek just as wretched as historically ever. Dropped off transit paperwork at Canada Customs; US Customs said “Welcome home” and we were. Mosquitoes out in Tok. Fast Eddy’s still the greatest diner food in Alaska. Tok Cutoff pretty bumpy but could keep up speed. Saw cinnamon bear/grizzly bear/black bear/moose/elk/elk/elk/elk/elk/swans/caribou/Bohemian cedar waxwing/bald eagles.
*Advance prep totally pays off in saved time. We weren’t searched at either border, we believe at least in part because we did our homework.
*Traveling north, download the Arrive Canada app, set up your Switch Health account in advance, download and fill out your declaration for entry to YT form, get your damn covid test (molecular NOT antigen) within 72 hours of crossing, and print out the results (quicker than fiddling with your phone as the border officer patiently waits).
*You must have hotel reservations in Canada and they must be on what the officers refer to as “your corridor,” i.e. your route of travel. Doesn’t matter if you planned to camp — friend with camper van got turned back this week at Sumas and told to try again the next day with hotel reservations for every night.
*Be polite to the nice Canadian border officers, don’t make jokes, and tell the truth because they will know if you don’t. This ain’t their first rodeo, and all they are doing is protecting their own. Can’t argue with that.
*Cell service. We had AT&T and Verizon, and we both had cell service in Canada throughout BC except for the length of the Cassiar Highway (Route #37). In the YT coverage only in Whitehorse. In Alaska coverage in communities and not between until Palmer.
*Wifi. Free at all three of our hotels.
*Traveling north, it is essential to drop off your permission to transit at Canadian Customs at Beaver Creek. Minimum fine of $3000 if you don’t. They are keeping track.
*Pretty sure both countries are sharing traveler info as the US Customs agent very relaxed when we showed up. (After all, the Canadian border officers had done all the work for them.) Yes, carrying your passport makes everything easier (eye roll).
*Join the Driving the Alcan – Alaska Canadian Highway Facebook group. As always on social media, caveat lector, but they have lots of good tips and excellent moderators.
*Get the Milepost. Best $35 you’ll spend on the trip. Yes, they have them at the Homer Bookstore.
Dana View All →
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.
Can I come with you next time? You will just need I minor detour to North west England.
Well, so long as it’s only a minor detour…