Bicycle Travel > Routes

seattle to alaska or alaska to seattle -- pros and cons

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hello from seattle.  just joined the forum.  planning solo bike trip :( , want to head up to alaska.  most reports googled come down from alaska.   wouldn't prevailing winds be south to north? any reason why riding up would be less aesthetic than riding down?

I cycled solo from Vancouver up to Fairbanks in the summer of 2008, awesome trip. Wind was really not a big factor. I rode up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy then took the ferry up to Prince Rupert and then on to Skagway. Going up White Pass to the Yukon takes you from sea level to 3,292 feet in 14 miles, but the views are spectacular:

I saw a few cyclists going the other way but none going my way, especially going up the Klondike and the rugged Top-of-the-World Highway. There are stretches of unpaved road, but if you go up that way, you'll ride high along the ridge of mountains to get to the northernmost point of entry by land back into the USA:

A water filter really came in handy as there were few services along the way so brought at least a couple days worth of dried food and took my water from rivers and streams. The river banks are steep and slippery, and the water often runs fast and silty so a cloth bucket came in handy to fetch water:

I remember when I got to Tok, AK it felt like such luxurious civilization. I enjoyed the Yukon the most, awesome landscapes and interesting people. I could have cycled down to Anchorage from Fairbanks, but as a treat I took the Alaska Railroad which is one of the must-ride scenic trains in the world.

thanks geegee.  last big tour was in 03, riding across australia.  time to get back in the saddle  ;)

A group of us rode from Fairbanks to Vancouver in 2005.  We started on Memorial Day and ended right around July 4th.  Rode east on the Alcan Highway to Watson Lake, then down the Cassiar Highway to the Yellow Knife Highway to Prince George.  From there we headed south to before turning off towards Lillouet and through Whistler.  All toward about 2,000 miles. 

We had significant head winds from all the way.  Not a lot of big climbs though - mostly short steep up and does the entire way since the road construction was fast and just went over whatever the terrain was.  The biggest climb we had was out of Lillouet towards Whistler and it was steep.  BUT, it was even steeper coming from Whistler towards Lillouet.  The paved road is rough and slows you down 2-4 mph.  We did not have any trouble finding water and food nor campgrounds.

I think your biggest decision is what route you plan to take to get to the Yukon.  You can head east and take the Alcan all the way or you can do what we did and include Whistler and the Cassiar highway.  Let me know if you want more info as I have all of our campground, daily mileage, etc..

I believe the south to north has steeper climbs along with a favorable tailwind if the weather is nice.

Good Luck.

thanks for the info windrath


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