If you want to go to Alaska and you’ve never been to Alaska, you might wonder how long it really takes to get to Alaska from the rest of the United States.

It takes 6 to 10 days to travel from the neighboring United States to Alaska, depending on where you start and provided you travel up to 8 hours a day. The fastest trip to Alaska can be made in 16 hours and 30 minutes.

Read on to find out exactly how long a trip to Alaska takes and what factors can affect your travel time.

How long to drive in Alaska - complete guide with detailed route planning and factors that may affect driving time.

Time to travel to Alaska from different parts of the United States

The time it takes to get to Alaska depends largely on where you start in the United States. The journey starts in the state of Washington or Montana and takes only 45 hours, but when you leave South Florida, you will have to drive around the United States and Canada for two weeks.

The fact is that on the Alaska Highway you have to cross a large part of Canada, wherever you come from in the United States. Even if you come from the south of the United States and need to cross the whole country before entering Canada, you are traveling through most of Canada instead of the United States.

It’s a long way off!

I have listed ten major cities in the United States below, in the shortest order of travel time to Alaska – if you live in or near one of these cities, it should provide you with a decent standard of living.

The driving time below is given in hours, although it is realistic to expect it to take a few days if you plan to drive up to 8 hours a day before the stops are counted. All distances to Anchorage, so if you go to another place in Alaska, it may take more or less time to get there.

Travel time between the various American cities and Anchorage, Alaska, can be up to 8 hours a day by road.
Place of departure Distance Driving time
Seattle, Washington. 2,260 miles 43 hours (6 days)
Billing, MT. 2,631 miles 46 hours (6 days)
Denver, D.C. 3,184 miles 55 hours (7 days)
Los Angeles, California. 3,395 miles 60 hours (8 days)
Chicago, Illinois. 3,580 miles 60 hours (8 days)
Dallas, Texas. 3,896 miles 66 hours (9 days)
Nashville, T.N. 4,056 miles 67 hours (9 days)
Washington, D.C. 4278 miles 71 hours (9 days)
New York, New York 4,377 miles 72 hours (9 days)
Miami, Florida. 4,963 miles 80 hours (10 days)

The trip from the United States’ neighboring countries to Alaska will be a long one, no matter where you start, but if you live on the east coast, I would seriously consider your options – the trip will take 20 days if you plan to return, so you’d better have a good reason to do that instead of flying!

How long do four routes to Alaska via Canada take?

Depending on where you start in the United States, you will probably travel to Alaska on one of four different routes, each taking a different amount of time.

From the west coast, follow the road north of Washington DC. Arizona, Colorado, Utah and other neighboring states will cross Montana and travel the length of Alberta.

For most of the United States, the fastest route to Alaska is the North Dakota Highway, while for the people of Maine, the Trans-Canada Highway is the fastest option.

Map 4 different ways to get to Alaska from the United States, depending on your starting point
The time needed to get to Alaska depends on the route you take.

©

Border to border, that’s how long these routes take – you have to add your own calculation of how long it will take to get to the U.S. border. Don’t forget to allow extra travel time between the border of Alaska and Anchorage or elsewhere.

  • Route 1 to Alaska from Washington DC – 32 hours drive (4 days) – add 2 hours for a scenic drive along the Yellow Head Highway.
  • Route 2 to Alaska from Montana – 33 hours (4 to 5 days)
  • Route 3 to Alaska from North Dakota – 37 hours travel time (5 days)
  • Route 4 to Alaska from Maine – 68 hours drive (9 days)

How long is the trip to Alaska in winter?

The Dalton Highway Ice Road runs through a pine forest in northern Alaska in the middle of winter.
The road from Dalton, Alaska can be treacherous in winter.

Nicholas Warner/Shutterstock.de

If you travel to Alaska in winter from the 48 lowest states of the US, you need to prepare for a journey that will take much longer than the navigator says or thinks.

The streets are fully asphalted and the quality of the roads is generally very high – it won’t be your problem.

In winter, some parts of northern Canada can have very bad weather with blizzards and lots of ice on the roads.

This means that even if your car is well prepared with winter tyres, four-wheel drive and good insulation, you often drive much slower than you could in the summer months.

Cook at least 50% more than usual and plan more frequent nightly stops when traveling to Alaska in winter.

Sometimes a blizzard even makes well maintained and generally clear Canadian roads impassable, which can mean waiting a day or two to clear and reopen them – be prepared to turn around and spend more time on the road.

Important factors affecting the length of your trip to Alaska

Wherever you start in the United States, a trip to Alaska is likely to take 6 or more days, including a trip to the Canadian border, a long drive through Canada and a last stop in Alaska.

The Alaska Highway, which crosses the cliffs of North Yukon, Canada, on its way to Alaska.
The Alaska Highway runs through some remote areas of the Yukon in northern Canada.

oksana.perkins/Shutterstock.com

Even if most of the route is so far away that you shouldn’t be bothered by things like a delay, there are several factors that can affect the length of the journey.

  1. How much time are you willing to spend in your car every day – With the above calculations you can spend up to 8 hours a day in your car. It may not seem like much, but it’s a long time to be in the car every day. If you add a few stops and a lunch break, you can stay on the highway 11 hours a day, which is difficult if you do it for a week.
  2. stops at – Canada has many great places to explore on your way to Alaska or even before crossing the border to the United States. There are national parks and many wild animals and quirky towns. Add a few stops along the way with a few days without a car and your travel time will double.
  3. Driving in winter – In winter the journey will take much longer. While it is generally best not to drive during the winter months, read the following section to make sure you have enough time to drive.
  4. Get your car ready – Although most cars should arrive safely in Alaska, the road is long and for most cars you are far away from the nearest mechanic. If your car is in poor condition and you have bad luck, the repair in the nearest town, a few hundred kilometers away, can take a lot of time.

What is the fastest route in Alaska?

There are two main ways to choose the quickest route to Alaska: the time needed to reach each point in the Panhandle or the total time needed to reach most of Alaska.

1. The fastest way to travel from anywhere in the 48 neighboring countries to anywhere in Alaska

It’s a bit misleading, because there are parts of Alaska that stretch along the Pacific coast that are much closer than most parts of the state much further north.

Only 876 miles from the Sumas-Huntingdon intersection in Washington, D.C. to the point where the British Columbia Ice Highway passes through Hyder, Alaska.

These areas in southern Alaska are completely separated from most of the state, and you’ll have to go back through Canada if you want to continue on to Anchorage and beyond, but we’re looking for the fastest technical time here, so it doesn’t matter!

Almost the entire trip, except for a short first stop on the Trans-Canada Highway, runs in 2 lanes (1 per direction), for which a speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph for old currency) applies in Canada. In some areas, 100 km/h markings are useful!

So, if you’re a law-abiding citizen and you always stick to the speed limit and reduce your speed a little when crossing cities, it will take you about 16 hours to reach the limit.

If your car has less than 876 miles on a single tank of gasoline and is not electric, I will allow you to make two 15-minute stops, go to the break room and buy snacks for your crazy speeding.

So if all goes well, there are no sudden traffic jams, roadworks or other delays, and you only stop for 30 minutes the whole day, the is the fastest you can drive to Alaska – 16 hours and 30 minutes.

If you’re a reasonable person who really likes things like breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if you don’t want to drive non-stop from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., I’d say the real answer is more than two and a half days.

Picturesque town of Sitka in Baranof, Alaska, with bridge, marina and small islands in the background
Sitka in Baranof, Alaska, not accessible by road

Roman Sorokin/Shutterstock.com

2. The fastest of the 48 lower states bordering Alaska can be reached in Yukon.

If you travel through Canada to the Yukon and the main border crossing in Alaska, the journey is long.

The quickest way to get to Alberta is to start in the north of Montana and go to the border at Pegan-Carvey. The route goes through Calgary and Grand Prairie and then through Dawson Creek to Alaska.

The journey of 2,976 km takes only 32 hours. With at least 6 stops for fuel, food, toilets and a driver change in 15 minutes each, the is the fastest route from the United States to most of Alaska – 33 hours 30 minutes.

If you don’t plan to spend a day and a half directly in the car and you really want to stop, sleep and eat on the way, you should plan at least 3 days before the trip, provided you drive and sleep all day, from the moment you wake up to your arrival at the hotel.

The realistic minimum for a trip is 4 days, so there are 8 hours a day and some rest between trips.

How long does it take to travel from the border with Alaska to Anchorage?

For the most part we focused on travelling to Anchorage, because it is the first and most common destination and by far the largest city in Alaska.

Anchorage is fairly easy to reach from Yukon, Alaska. The Alaska Highway continues from the border, and the Anchorage Highway is passable. You will also enjoy benefits such as good cellular and data coverage (which you may miss when travelling through some of Canada’s remote areas).

Although it looks a little more like the map than your whole trip, it is just over 400 miles from the border to Anchorage, and it will take you 8 hours to get to Anchorage.

If you plan a trip, a full day will be added to every trip from the United States to Alaska.

I hope you now have a much better idea of how far Alaska is from your country and how long it will take you to get there – don’t underestimate this long journey and be prepared for the long journeys in the desert and the days you will spend on the road.

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