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Cycling in Alaska – Practical tips for bike touring in Alaska

Practical tips and advice for cycling in Alaska based on my own bike touring experiences there. Links are included to blog posts written when bicycle touring in Alaska.

Bike Touring in Alaska

It was back in 2009 that I was last Cycling in Alaska. I suspect that not a great deal has changed. It's a big place, it's cold, and there are only a few main roads. It's also an outdoor adventurers paradise, and a great destination for bicycle touring. If plenty of wild camping, challenging terrain, and a sense of remoteness are your thing, you're going to love it!

The start of cycling in Alaska from Deadhorse

A Guide to Cycling in Alaska

As my experiences of cycling in Alaska followed a route from Deadhorse, through Fairbanks, and on to Canada, I can't comment about Denali, perhaps Alaska's most famous national park. Instead, all the information here was gathered whilst cycling along what is known as the Pan-American Highway. I've broken the information down into sections I think you will find most relevant if you are planning a bike tour in Alaska.

When to go

Unless you specifically want to cycle in the snow (and some people do with their fat bikes and spike tyres), there's really only a narrow window of time to choose from. Without going into too much analysis here, June and July are your two best months to choose from. If you are cycling south on a Pan-American cycling trip, then June is probably the best of the two.

Even in June, you can still expect the odd cold night up in the north. Although I never experienced any, my guess is that snow might also be randomly possible, especially given how crazy the planet's weather is over the last few years. Weather wise, rain can always be an issue, and some of the rough roads turn to sludge when this happens. If you are cycling in Alaska in June, you will also experience the phenomenon of 24 hour sunlight. It goes without saying that the further north you are, the colder it becomes, no matter what time of year you are there.

Where to stay

Private rooms in motels and hotels are not cheap, and especially so in Deadhorse. Hostels are an affordable option, and the Warmshowers network has several kindly hosts in the state. Really though, camping is going to be the number one choice when Bike Touring in Alaska. You can choose from official sites, or wild camp in the more remote areas. Wild camping will also help you to reduce costs when bike touring – something most cyclists on the road for any length of time are keen on!

wild camping in Alaska

Food and Drink

When planning your cycling route in Alaska, you may have to consider how much food to carry with you. There are several stretches of road, where it is advisable to carry 2 or 3 days worth of food. If you are budget conscious, you might want to carry more, as prices are obviously higher for food the further away from civilisation you get. Don't expect a full range of groceries in small settlements and towns. Sometimes it's just a case of eating what's there. Here's a good idea of what food to stock up on for bike touring whenever you get to a bigger place. Taking a cooking stove is a good idea.

The settlement of Joy in Alaska

Water is available from lakes and rivers, although will need to be filtered before drinking. Tap water is potable, but it's worth checking first. In the more remote areas, it's worth thinking ahead in order to work out how much water to carry.

Photo of the Richardson River in Alaska

Bicycle stuff

It's going to pay to be reasonably self-sufficient in terms of spares and tools when cycling in Alaska. Outside of Anchorage and Fairbanks, you won't be seeing a bike shop. A bicycle tool kit like the one below should cover most situations.

Roads and traffic

There's a mix of roads to experience when cycling in Alaska! Perhaps the most notorious, is the Haul Road or Dalton Highway. This is an unsealed rough road with a number of hill and mountain passes. Having a bike capable of cycling along rough roads is definitely going to help! Back onto the sealed roads though, and cyclists will find the roads relatively smooth, with a slight shoulder to use, and little traffic. Roadworks can (or at least were) an issue from time to time.

Cycling along the Dalton Highway in Alaska

Dangers and annoyances

The two main dangers and annoyances when cycling in Alaska are bears and mosquitoes. And to be honest, I'm not sure which one annoyed me the most. Probably the mosquitoes actually. They were vociferous, and seemed to collect in huge gangs, waiting for me to leave the tent in the morning! I saw bears a couple of times, but took all the correct precautions in terms of keeping food away from my tent etc. I also carried some bear spray which I never used, and discarded at the border with Canada.

My blog posts from cycling in Alaska

Here's the links to my blog posts about bike touring in Alaska:

Cycling in Alaska Day 1 – Biking from Deadhorse to Happy Valley

Cycling in Alaska Day 2 – Biking from Happy Valley to Galbraith Lake

Cycling in Alaska Day 3 – Biking from Galbraith Lake to Random Roadside

Cycling in Alaska Day 4 – Biking from Roadside to Marion Creek

Cycling in Alaska Day 5 – Riding from Marion Creek to Arctic Circle

Cycling in Alaska Day 6 – Cycling from Arctic Circle to Five Mile

Cycling in Alaska Day 7 – Riding from Five Mile to Elliot Highway

Cycling in Alaska Day 8 – Cycling from Elliot Highway to Joy

Cycling in Alaska Day 9 – Joy to Fairbanks

Saturday in Fairbanks – A day to rest the knee

Back on the Bike! Cycling in Alaska from Fairbanks to Salcha River

Into a headwind

100 miles in the bag – Cycling in Alaska

Cycling in Alaska – Riding from somewhere I can’t remember to Tok

The Story of Spam Singles – Cycling from Tok to Northway Junction in Alaska

Cycling across the border between Alaska and Canada

If you have any questions about bike touring in Alaska, or would like to add some information, please leave a comment below. It would be great to hear from you!

Cycling in Alaska - Practical tips an advice for bike touring in Alaska

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Cycling in Alaska – Practical tips for bike touring in Alaska


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