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Detailed coverage of the entire 2,400-mile drive to Alaska is beyond our scope. Here I've covered the Alaska portion of the road, the 200 miles of the Alaska Highway that run from the border with Canada to the terminus in Delta Junction. This is mostly boring driving, miles of stunted black spruce and brush, either living or burned out. It's a relief when you hit the first major town, Tok (rhymes with Coke), 100 miles along. But don't get your hopes up. This is the only place where I've ever walked into a visitor center and asked what there is to do in town, only to have the host hold up her fingers in the shape of a goose egg and say, "Nothing." Another 100 miles (I hope you brought plenty of music, because no radio station reaches out here), and you've made it to Delta Junction. There's a little more to do here, but it's still not a destination. Another 100 miles, and you're in Fairbanks.

The main sources of information for the drive are based in Tok, the first town you hit after you cross the border. It acts as a threshold for the entire state.

I've arranged this section in order from the border with Canada heading west.

Crossing the Border

Besides remembering to set your watch back an hour when crossing the border into Alaska -- it's an hour earlier than in Yukon Territory -- also keep in mind you are spanning an international boundary. An adult U.S. or Canadian citizen needs a passport, passport card, or enhanced driver's license to enter the country over the road or water. A child needs a passport or, if under age 16, only a birth certificate. A website explaining the requirements is at www.getyouhome.gov. There are no duties on products made in the United States or Canada. Products you buy in Alaska made of wildlife will probably require special permits to be taken out of the United States, and most marine mammal products cannot be exported. If you are a U.S. resident, send the item home by mail without trying to take it through Canada. U.S. authorities no longer let noncitizens into the country with firearms except for permanent resident aliens or foreigners holding both a special permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a nonresident hunting license. It's complicated for U.S. residents to travel through Canada with firearms as well. Guns other than hunting rifles or shotguns generally are not allowed, and you need to fill out a form and pay a $25 fee for guns that are allowed; contact the Canadian Firearms Center (tel. 800/731-4000; www.cfc-cafc.gc.ca) before you go to avoid problems. You should also register your firearms with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (no fee) before entering Canada to ease your return to the United States. Before entering the U.S., dogs more than 3 months old require a rabies certificate with an expiration date; it should have the signature of a licensed veterinarian that is dated at least 30 days before crossing the border. If in doubt about any of these issues, call before you go, as the border is a long way from anywhere: Canadian Customs in Whitehorse (tel. 867/667-3943) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the highway (tel. 907/774-2252), in Skagway (tel. 907/983-2325), or in Anchorage (tel. 907/271-6855).

From the Border to Tok

The first 65 miles after entering the United States, the road borders the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. These broad wetlands and low forests are a migratory stopover in April and May and in the fall for thousands of songbirds, birds of prey, and waterfowl, and the summer home of trumpeter swans and lesser sandhill cranes, among 30 resident and 96 migratory species. The refuge holds a migratory bird festival in May with activities at the refuge and in nearby Tok. Activities change each year. Caribous also show up along the road, especially in the early spring and late fall. Interpretive signs are at six points along the highway. The Fish and Wildlife Service's Tetlin Refuge Visitor Center, 8 miles past the border, at mile 1,229, is open May 15 to September 15 daily from 8am to 4:30pm, longer when staffing allows. There are exhibits, a 1-mile trail, and an observation deck with a great view. The refuge also has two small lakeside campgrounds: Deadman Lake, at Mile 1,249, with 15 sites, some okay for RVs (but no drinking water); and Lakeview, at mile 1,256, with 11 (no RVs over 30 ft.). Rangers give evening campground programs in the summer at Deadman Lake. The refuge headquarters is in Tok (tel. 907/883-5312 headquarters; http://tetlin.fws.gov).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.