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AlCan Route Planning

Illustration for article titled AlCan Route Planning

Hey! You interested in hearing details about planning a two week road trip? Of course you are! I’ve been working on schedules for our trip and wanted to write up a summary, mostly for my own benefit tbh, but figured Oppo might have some opinions.


If you’re not familiar, in what is now apparently “An Thing,” my friends and I occasionally fly to a place, buy cars, drive an epic road trip, and then “sell” the cars when we get to the destination. (Sell... keep... what is the difference really...)

In 2015 we did San Diego to Seattle via the Highway 1 and 101 and then in 2017 we drove offroad vehicles from Sacramento to Salt Lake City via Tahoe, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, and more.


This time, we’re finishing what we started by buying cars in Seattle and then driving 2,500 miles to Anchorage, Alaska.


All good trip has requirements! For this, we have hard and soft requirements. Hard requirements are our “must haves.” Stuff that is neither flexible nor optional, as the name implies. Soft requirements range from “would very much like” to “would be cool if” but either way have a fair amount of flexibility and can be optional.

Hard Requirements

  1. At least two full days (three nights) at the beginning of the trip for car purchase and prep
  2. At least two days at the end of the trip to dispose of the cars
  3. Trip must be completed in 18 days
  4. Accommodations must have hot showers at least every other day
  5. Have fun
  6. Don’t die

Previously Established Constraints

These are things that we’ve already decided one way or the other to help narrow down the possibilities.

  1. Start in the Seattle area
  2. End in Anchorage
  3. Visit Denali
  4. Route through Fairbanks
  5. Favor the Cassiar highway

Soft requirements

  1. Would like to visit Port Angeles/ Victoria, the site of our “Victory climb” from the first trip
  2. Use the Port Hardy to Prince Rupert ferry, if possible
  3. Have time on a weekday to work on the cars near the beginning of the trip
  4. Easy first and last day
  5. Offset high mileage days with low mileage the next

Three Mock Schedules

From that input, I’ve generated three “mock” schedules. Essentially these focus on getting from A to B meeting all requirements and meeting the average daily mileage, but don’t take into account accommodation availability, sightseeing, etc. (So if you see a place you know we can’t stay, chill.)


#1 - Price Rupert Ferry Route

Illustration for article titled AlCan Route Planning

This concept is the most controversial and the one we’ve spent the most time talking about, by far. When researching we discovered there is a ferry that runs from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. The ferry covers about 400 miles as it weaves through the islands along the Canadian coast and, frankly, looks epic.

However, it only runs once every other day, leaves at 7AM, is very expensive, and doesn’t actually involve driving. If this was an option somewhere in the middle of the trip, I don’t think there would be any question, but at the beginning of a road trip, it seems a little... odd. It introduces a lot of moving parts, many of which are outside our control, that pose a lot of risks at an already ambitious schedule. Plus, again, very expensive at $575 per person, plus the Victoria ferry which adds another $80 per person. To be brutally honest, that is $655 I’d rather spend on a car.


That said, it cuts about 350 miles off our trip in addition to the ferry journey, everyone wants to do it eventually (even if not on this trip), and I kinda dig the idea of starting the trip and then, essentially, being transported into the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, back to the schedule!

Illustration for article titled AlCan Route Planning

Aside from the ferry discussion, this one is certainly the most relaxing. With only two high-mileage days, we’ll have plenty of time for hiking, sightseeing, and car repairs. This schedule also leaves us with an extra day in Anchorage, which we could instead transfer to an extra day in Seattle if we so chose.

Overall, a really solid schedule and route. We’d average 187 miles and four hours of driving per day. Almost too short!


#2 - No Ferry, but still visit Port Angeles

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This schedule skips the ferry, but lets “start” at Port Angeles.

Unfortunately, it is also a bit of a bear. The added time to route through Victoria means many long days and no real slack in the schedule makes it a hateful option.


This is problematic because I think all three of use would love the opportunity to pay homage to the first trip, the one that started it all.

Illustration for article titled AlCan Route Planning

This one averages 204 miles and four hours per day, but has some really nasty ones in the middle. With that, I think it is more likely we’ll try and find an alternative way to honor the first trip while skipping the extra time and money driving though Victoria adds.

#3 - No Ferry, No Port Angeles

Illustration for article titled AlCan Route Planning

This schedules is the most logical road trip route. No nostalgia, leaves an entire day to get the cars worked on and cross the border, and overall pretty solid.

This route gets us an average of 195 miles and 3.85 hours of travel per day. It does have a few longer days and no real room to add a no travel day, but overall it is my 2nd favorite route.

Illustration for article titled AlCan Route Planning

Which will it be!?

It depends! We’re planning on meeting to discuss some time next week. Honestly I think we’re all hoping we can talk each other out of the ferry route. We all really want to do it, but the cost is prohibitive and it just doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the trip.


Thoughts? Feelings? Emotions? What did you have for breakfast today?

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