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Alaskan Highways

Considering our remoteness, Alaska is blessed with wonderful roads.  Considering our winters, its a good thing!  Roads in Alaska do not go up to high elevations or they would be in permanent snow.  If they were steep, they would be too icy to climb all winter.

Many of the pictures you see in our catalog look like they were taken at high elevations.  Bear in mind that this far north, tree line is rarely as high as 2500 feet, and often much lower.   That opens up a world of beautiful Alpine scenery without having to deal with lung-busting thin air!

Since virtually none of the land was in private ownership before the highways were built, there was never a necessity to build roads around someone's property lines.  Therefore the roads very effectively finesse the terrain, winding as necessary to avoid hills and to keep grades even.

Alaska is certainly well known for its mountains. Fortunately the roads in the north country pass through the mountains rather than over them. For example, when we cross the Alaska Range at Isabel Pass (the highest point on our tours), the road only climbs to 3200 feet. As a rule, the steepest grades on our larger highways is 6% (same as on Interstate Highways.)  And the greatest one day elevation gain on either tour is only 1800 feet!


Most of the Richardson Highway has wide shoulders, such as this spot about 35 miles out of Valdez.  This road cross section is typical of the entire highway, except for the section in the next photo.





On the northern Richarson Highway between Delta junction and Paxson, the road is mostly shoulderless.  When the Parks highway was completed in 1972, this section of road was bypassed by the vast majority of traffic.  Since then vehicle traffic on this stretch of road has been negligible  As a consequence all the lodges and gas stations closed long ago and we eat lunch out of the van.