Help me plan my next road trip. Georgia to Alaska!

You guys are always good at recommending places to see and things to do. I will be driving from Georgia to Alaska next Spring and I need ideas and suggestions for places to stop along the way. I have a tentative route selected already, so I would love to hear recommendations of places that fall generally along the path below. Tips, tricks, and suggestions are always welcome!

Atlanta - New Orleans - San Antonio - Tusayan - Las Vegas - Groom Lake - Seattle - (Ferry to Alaska) - Anchorage.

That’s what I have so far. There’s some huge gaps in there that need to be filled. Plus, I don’t have much idea of what I am going to do in the mentioned cities, accept the obvious things like The Alamo and The Grand Canyon.

How long (time wise) will your trip be? Any idea how much time you will be spending in different cities?

I did not know there was any civilian access to Groom Lake…

Not all the way to the lake, obviously. Just the touristy stuff along the highway and pictures of at the gate. Maybe some photos from Tikaboo peak.

Completely random at this point. Total time for the trip will probably be around three weeks, though.

Lots to do in New Orleans. High up on my list of things to see there is the relatively new WWII museum, which I’ve heard is excellent.

Go a bit further East to see Glacier National Park in Montana/Alberta.

I think I just might. Now I’m thinking about Vegas - Denver - Keystone (Mount Rushmore) - Glacier - then Seattle.

I found Mt. Rushmore underwhelming. It’s faces carved into a mountain. Looks exactly like it does in pictures or on TV.


My feeling is the exact opposite. When you see it in glorious life-size, you get the awesome sense of “Holy crap, they really carved a MOUNTAIN.” It’s also great to watch the movie they show about how it was done.

To each their own…

The ferry from Bellingham, Washington (not Seattle) gives you several options: [ul][li] You can get off at Haines, drive through a bit of British Columbia and the Yukon and back into Alaska and on to Anchorage. That’s 750 miles of driving, including about 300 miles through Canada with no big towns. [/li][li]Option two is to get off at Skagway and go through Whitehorse. That’s a little over 800 miles of driving. It’s the way I’d go because I’d like to visit the historic sites in Skagway, Dyea, and Whitehorse that relate to the Klondike gold rush. A side trip to Dawson YT will add about 6 hours of driving.[/li][li]Option 3 involves taking the ferry all the way to Whittier. Ferries between Southeast Alaska and Whittier don’t run as often and it’s fairly expensive. On the plus side, it puts you within a two-hour drive of Anchorage. There can sometimes be delays because the road route from Whittier goes through a single-lane tunnel shared by eastbound and westbound vehicular and railroad traffic.[/li]You can get off at Valdez and drive to Anchorage, but I don’t think it saves a tremendous amount of time compared to Haines[/ul]

Great information. I definitely need ferry information and advice. I’ve been looking to avoid going into Canada because I will have firearms with me. Maybe I could just mail them to myself at one of my last stops before entering Canada. I would actually love to go through Canada, and if it’s easier and cheaper like you’re saying, maybe I should just do that.

Another thing to consider is that passenger fares on the ferry do not include a cabin. Most people sleep on deck chairs on the deck or in the solarium. A cabin costs hundreds of dollars extra.

Looking at the fare tables, it looks like the ferry will cost me $5200 just for the vehicle (I’ll be pulling a trailer). The drive through Canada is looking better and better!

If you’re planning to drive up through Canada, I’d say go through Alberta and see the Calgary Olympic Park and Banff and Jasper National Parks.

I’d also warn you to make sure you know which border crossings are open 24-7. I made the mistake of not knowing, and aiming to cross the Montana-Alberta border at US-89 very late at night, only to find that it’s closed and there’s nowhere within hours to spend the night. I ended up backtracking all the way to the I-15 crossing, and by the time I got there it was so close to sunrise, I might as well have saved myself the gas and slept in the car.

Don’t waste your time in Anchorage other than to spend your nights in the hotel. Take a drive down the Seward Highway, arguably one of the prettiest Scenic Routes in America. Second day, head north on the Glenn Highway; you can either go to Denali Park via the Parks Highway and take the bus into the park (you can also get to the park from Anchorage by train); or you can continue on the Glenn and drive up to Hatcher Pass, then onward to the Matanuska Glacier. You can drive right up to the glacier’s moraine and walk out onto the glacier itself.

Too bad you’re driving. That trip would be a wonderful opportunity for a cruise through the Panama Canal and up the west coast to Alaska.

No Graceland??

I’d rec a stop or two in New Mexico. White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, ABQ and/or Santa Fe, Bandalier Nat Mon, much to choose from.

At the very least stop at a diner and have something drenched in green chili sauce. The red is with a stop too.

I don’t know that Canada Olympic Park is worth the drive over, but if you’re in the area…

Check on the gun thing. We have an ex-pat from Texas here for work and he was able to easily bring his rifles across (handguns are probably different). When I told him I was surprised how easy it was, he reminded me that we get thousands of US hunters coming in every year, so there must be a way to bring the guns across that isn’t a huge hassle.

I drove from Dallas to Anchorage in the spring and back in winter. Will post some notes tomorrow when not on iPhone.

As of 2009, when I last crossed into Canada on my way out of Alaska, you were required to fill out registration/permit paperwork, which is available online and will save time at the border. Here’s the straight dope on all of it.