Top 10 Must-See Destinations on an Alaska Motorcycle Trip
Alaska native, tour guide and travel author shares his top spots for ADV Riders.
Thanks to Gary from AK for leading me to this article.
I have been fortunate to have been able to ride most of these roads while in Alaska in 2011. Nice to read a seasoned riders recommendations. Once you have been to Alaska it will forever be embedded in you memory as an epic ride.
Alaska always seems to come up as a top bucket list destination for Adventure Riders and it’s easy to see why. America’s “Last Frontier” offers vast untouched natural beauty and pristine landscapes that are unsurpassed in North America. With endless miles of challenging routes to explore, an adventure motorcycle is the perfect tool to fully experience all Alaska has to offer. Here are ten must-see destinations for any Adventure Rider interested in taking an Alaska motorcycle trip.
1. Prudhoe Bay
This is the farthest north you can ride a motorcycle on the continent. The road is 414 miles long out of Fairbanks, and throws at you broken chip seal and a calcium chloride infused dirt surface. It also is the mother lode of sloppy grater and water truck road construction and wind blasting semis, headed to the bay. This is one destination you don’t want to skip on your Alaska motorcycle trip! It offers excellent remote scenery and does not bore; the view is just as good going up as it is going back south. But don’t try to do this ride all in one sitting, many riders have attempted it, and many have succumbed to either road conditions or stamina.
Courtesy Phil Freeman
2. Denali Highway
This is the original entrance to Denali National Park and is over 120 miles of dirt loveliness. The scenery is epic, the remoteness is real (yes, you are now part of the food chain) and stopping and exploring along the way is off the charts. The Alaska Range parallels this entire ride, and offers scene after scene of quintessential “Alaska.” There are mining roads that meander this way and that, off the main road, which make for hard-core adventure. Do not go alone into this world; bring a buddy, and the willingness to adventure! Stay over at Gracious House (mile 82) and save a day or two for exploring from there. Pack a fly rod if you are into that kind of thing. Bring a camera: you will be seeing some furry friends.
3. Manley Hot Springs
This town was started around the turn of the last century as a stop-over for gold seekers. It is a veritable oasis in the midst of unadulterated wilderness. The Road House in Town offers refuge, camping, food and bar. A dip in the hot springs is worth every cent and is a very unique experience. There are two roads worth exploring: The road to Tofty and the road to Ruby (Wyatt Earp’s famed Gold Rush Residence). Mind “No Trespassing” signs, as you are riding through gold mining country. Gear up light, get on your pegs and get ready for some great jeep trails! Never hurts to talk to the locals as conditions change out on these far, outpost roads.
This is the unsung hero of adventure riding in Alaska. It is remote, rugged, and the Alaska Flags replace the American ones. The people are hardy, welcoming and will help you seek out some fantastic jeep two-track stuff that fans out from the main road. If you go out there, plan for a couple of days riding. The old gold mining roads out there allow you to access places that literally no one goes to anymore. Make sure to check out Circle City on the Yukon out there. Ride out in the morning and get ready to see some critters.
This destination is a MUST. It is the old miner’s entertainment town that services the Copper mine at Kennicott, just up the hill. The road out there is a 60-mile dirt blast, the base of which is the old railroad that used to service the mine until the late 30’s. Make sure to stop at the Kuskulana Bridge and check out the cat walks underneath. This is a step back in time, and the best thing about it is that only motorcycles can get across to the town and mine! You may cross at the pedestrian bridge; just make sure there is no one on it. The town is locked in time and the mine is amazing. Take some time there and consider the tour of the mine building at Kennicott. Also, enjoy the old wagon road that links the mine with the town, and passes by the old cemetery. Truly ADV stuff here.
This old gold mining town has seen more prosperous days, but if you like stepping back in time, watching bald eagles, salmon climbing up the river and riding dirt roads through the mountains, this is your spot. Make sure to stop by the Seaview Cafe for seafood chowder or pie at Tito’s Cafe. The ride up Palmer Creek Road is fun and ends in old gold mining ruins. This is a great day ride out of Anchorage, but it’s not bad for an overnight stay either.
7. Petersville Road
This is an access road out of Trapper Creek which offers south facing views of Mt. McKinley. It climbs to above tree line and veers west down Cache Creek. It offers on-the-pegs riding, creek crossings and general ADV fun. You can easily spend a couple of days back there exploring trails.
8. Top of the World Highway
Ride from Tok to Dawson and experience great dirt and paved roads that offer broad views and history. Make sure to leave a couple of hours to ride to Eagle on the Yukon River. Dawson itself is a treat and worth a couple of days. Take the Solomon Mine 60-mile circuit out of town and visit the original gold strikes on a dirt road just made for the ADV rider. Make sure to drop by the Downtown Hotel and get yourself a “Sourdough Cocktail” (a drink with a human toe in it!) – You are now an honorary Sourdough!
9. Crown Point
This is not a long ride but huge in the scale of epic. Ride through Moose Pass on the Kenai Peninsula south, and once out of town you cross the Trail River Bridge and take left. Follow for a couple miles and take the first left. It is just an ATV trail, so come riding light, and get ready to climb thousands of feet to an old gold mine which overlooks Kenai Lake and the Harding Ice Field. Simply amazing.
10. Nabesna Road
This is a 40-mile jaunt into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The park itself is impressive, harboring 9 of the 16 tallest peaks on the continent, and is the largest preserve in the United States. The road starts out civil, then throws at you dirt surface and stream crossings, and turns to “rustic”. At the end of the road, past the airstrip, take off your riding boots and put on some hiking shoes and explore the old gold mines up there. There are places in which the miners just left everything behind, and now nature is taking over. This ride is notable as the finish is much more scenic than the start.