The Road to Alaska from the Canadian Rockies

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009

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Stop at the magnificent Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Stop at the magnificent Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park.

This marvelous trip requires one or two weeks to do the journey justice.  Begin at the Montana/Alberta border and you will eventually land in Alaska.  Your drive will start on the Trail of the Great Bear, heading north through Calgary, Edmonton and on to Grand Prairie, winding into British Columbia, which links to the Alaska Highway.

Crossing the Montana-Alberta border at Coutts, spend some time in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park where you will see the largest concentration of pictographs and petroglyphs in North America.  From there drive on to Waterton Lakes National Park, the world’s first International Peace Park, recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve since 1979.  Continue north on the Trail of the Great Bear (Highway 6) to Pincher Creek.  Then go east on Highway 3 to Fort Macleod, and finally north on Highway 2 to reach Calgary.

Once in Calgary you can continue north to Edmonton, where you must spend some time exploring the many attractions the city has to offer.  Make sure you include West Edmonton Mall, with its over 800 shops that cover almost 48 city blocks!  From Edmonton, you can head northwest on Highway 43 through Mayerthorpe, Whitecourt and Fox Creek to Grande Prairie, the largest city in northwestern Alberta.  You can also take Highway 2 and Highway 44 for a longer trip to Slave Lake. 

Follow the shoreline of Lesser Slave Lake heading west on Highway 2, stopping to enjoy the sandy beaches and the great bird watching opportunities along the way.  Once in Grande Prairie, visit the Pioneer Museum and the wonderful art gallery there.  If you are traveling in the summer, their two theatres will be brimming with performances and other interesting programs.

You have the option of going north on Highway 2 from Lesser Slave Lake, arriving at the Peace River, a magnificent park area.  Visit the Centennial Museum and the Shaftesbury Settlement.  Then head west to one of Alberta’s earliest fur-trading posts and missionary centers, Dunvegan, which officially closed in 1918.  Dunvegan, named after an ancestral castle on the Isle of Skye, is home of Alberta’s longest clear-span bridge, the fourth largest suspension bridge in Canada. 

Once you arrive in Dawson Creek, you will be ready to pull out your camera for a quintessential photo of Mile Marker 0 on the Alaskan Highway.  Then head over to the Northern Alberta Railway Station Park, a historic train station that has won awards for its restoration.  Make sure you spend some time in Toad River, at Mile 422.  Population 60, this tiny town is known for its collection of 4,580 hats, one for every mile between the continental United States and the Yukon, as well as for every head in town!

Once on the Yukon border you will pass through Watson Lake where you must stop at Signposts Forever, with 9,000 signs pointing the way home from the 60th parallel! 

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