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7 Reasons NOT to Drive Your RV to Alaska

| Updated Jun 1, 2023

Alaska is on many RVers' bucket lists, but here are several reasons NOT to drive your RV to Alaska…

Alaska, the Last Frontier, is a dream destination for many adventurers seeking untamed wilderness and breathtaking landscapes. There’s no arguing it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.

While it may seem like the perfect place for an RV trip, there are several factors to consider before embarking on such a journey. 

In this article, we will explore seven compelling reasons why you might want to think twice before driving your RV to Alaska.

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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t RV to Alaska

Despite how it may sound, these reasons are not meant to scare you away from your Alaskan dreams! They are meant to prepare you and help you make an informed decision about including Alaska on your bucket list.

1. Long Travel Time and Distance

7 Reasons NOT to Drive Your RV to Alaska 1

One of the first challenges you'll encounter when planning an RV trip to Alaska is the sheer distance and time it takes to get there and back. Even if you start in Seattle, Washington, you’re looking at over 43 hours of driving time to get to Anchorage (~2,260 miles!).

If you follow the 330 Rule, that’s 7 days of travel time. One way! From the northwestern tip of the contiguous U.S.!

So, no matter where you start from in the contiguous United States, you’re looking at a bare minimum of 2 weeks to get there and back. Then add at least 2 weeks in Alaska to make the trip worth it. 

That’s 4 weeks round trip from Seattle, and likely a minimum of 6-8 weeks from other starting points.

Granted, the journey to Alaska is an experience in it of itself. You’ll see gorgeous country, but that does include crossing into Canada (which we’ll address at the end).

2. Monster Mosquitoes

7 Reasons NOT to Drive Your RV to Alaska 2

Did you know that the mosquito is Alaska's state bird?! Okay, not really, but many people joke that it is. They're THAT big.

These bloodthirsty insects can quickly turn a peaceful camping experience into a swarm of itchy misery. While bug repellents and protective clothing can help, dealing with these pests can be a significant annoyance for RVers in Alaska.

Here are some resources to help:

3. Spotty Internet and Cell Service

If you rely on a stable internet connection for work or other essential tasks, Alaska is going to present a real challenge. While some cities and larger towns offer reliable connectivity, more remote locations (a.k.a. the majority of Alaska) may only have intermittent or slow internet connections. 

This can be frustrating for digital nomads or anyone who needs to stay connected while on the road. The same goes for cell service! 

That also means you CANNOT rely on your GPS devices. We learned this lesson from an unfortunate tragedy that occurred in Nevada, let alone the wilds of Alaska!

That’s why we always recommend keeping a hardcopy road atlas in your RV, especially if traveling in Alaska!

Mike and Jennifer's Official Summer T-Shirts for you to explore

7 Reasons NOT to Drive Your RV to Alaska 3
NEW shirts for Men and Women who love the RV Lifestyle. Lighter fabric and colors for everyone!

4. Unpredictable Weather

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Alaska's weather is known for its unpredictability, even during the summer months. Rain is common, and snow can start as early as September in some regions, limiting the travel season for RV enthusiasts. 

It's crucial to prepare for changing weather conditions and pack accordingly, as extreme weather can significantly impact your RV trip. And your safety.

Here are some resources to help (including the cold-weather camping video above):

5. Limited RV Services and Repair Facilities

rv repair

Alaska's vast and remote landscapes mean that access to RV services and repair facilities is limited. We’ve all been experiencing significant delays (& high costs) in the contiguous United States.

So, just imagine the delays and costs of getting an RV repaired in Alaska. And, again, consider the safety risks if you break down in the wilds of Alaska.

Therefore, it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you do all routine maintenance and systems checks before you RV to Alaska. You should also know how to do basic RV maintenance in case you do break down during your trip.

Here are some resources to help:

7 Reasons NOT to Drive Your RV to Alaska 4

Get the Home Study Course today and worry about the road, not the repairs!
Every time you move your RV it's like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.

6. Alaska is Expensive

The cost of living in Alaska is generally higher compared to many other parts of the United States. This reality extends to goods and services, including groceries, fuel, and RV supplies. 

Shipping items to Alaska can be expensive, and most things have to be shipped to Alaska. Therefore, the inflated prices can quickly add up during an extended RV trip. 

Budget-conscious travelers should take this into account when planning their expenses.

7. Canadian Border Crossing & Laws

Crossing the Canadian Border in an RV (Post Pandemic)

Land border crossing between Canada and the United States was closed for 19 months during the pandemic. Now that the borders are open again to non-essential travel, you need to stay up-do-date on Canadian border crossing requirements.

According to the Government of Canada website, you no longer have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, but it states you should not travel to Canada if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

Also be aware that it is illegal to take any cannabis (including CBD products) across the Canadian-American border. Firearms are also illegal unless you complete the lengthy approval process. 

Lastly, be sure to have proper documentation for any children traveling with you, and veterinarian records for your dog.

Read more about Crossing the Canadian Border in an RV here. We also have an article on Canadian Cultural Differences.

Canada also has different weight limitations for RVs!

Canadian Towing Regulations & Seat Belt Requirements

Canada, of course, has its own traffic laws, many of which differ from America’s laws. One such difference is their towing regulations. You’ll need to check each province’s towing regulations, as they have different length limits, etc.

There are also different weight limits for RVs in Canada. The most common maximum weight allowed for a towed trailer in Canada is 4,500 kg (9,920 lbs), but it varies by province. 

Since Americans tend to like big trailers and 5th wheels, this size limit can present a big problem. So, it’s important to research the weight limitations and weigh station requirements for the provinces you will travel through.

For instance, British Columbia requires all vehicles with a GVW exceeding 5,500 kg (12,125 lbs) to stop at weigh stations.

Lastly, Canadian RV seat belt laws require all occupants to wear seat belts in an RV.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland's Yellowstone Travel Guide

3 Beautiful Boondocking Sites Outside Yellowstone

At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.

Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.

It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-06-01

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

15 Responses to “7 Reasons NOT to Drive Your RV to Alaska”

June 02, 2023at9:51 am, Laura Bender said:

I want to encourage any RV’er to drive to and from Alaska. I was born and raised in Alaska and as a family we drove the Alcan before it was paved, driving from Anchorage to Detroit to Brooklyn NY. We did this several times (we were not camping – but stayed in hotels.) As an adult I have made the trip to and from VA in our 2009 PleasureWay Excel several times (it takes us 10 days to two weeks.) The scenery in Canada and Alaska is breathtaking. The road (while not perfect) is now paved, amenities are plentiful (no worries about finding gas stations), there are many very nice campgrounds. – my list of positives could go on and on. Yes, mosquitoes are an issue but take along a ThermaCell and you will be fine. GPS – no worries, you cannot really get lost on the way to Alaska – you have a choice of two routes. My one piece of advice is to buy a Milepost (The MILEPOST 2023: Alaska Travel Planner) – Amazon carries it. It is the bible for driving to and from Alaska. And, invest in blackout curtains as the daylight doesn’t end!


June 02, 2023at12:18 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing the tips, Laura! Team RV Lifestyle


June 02, 2023at9:08 am, Ed Neumann said:

7 Reasons is a mostly legitimate list of excuses to avoid an amazing adventure. I’ve driven the Alcan 6 times without encountering any issues described here. GPS unreliable? Maybe if you use a phone but satellite gps works fine. And you can visit Alaska without going all the way to Anchorage. Check out Hyder, a microcosm of all things Alaska has to offer and a mere 990 miles from Seattle. Driving through British Columbia is a bonus.


June 02, 2023at9:08 am, Ed Neumann said:

7 Reasons is a mostly legitimate list of excuses to avoid an amazing adventure. I’ve driven the Alcan 6 times without encountering any issues described here. GPS unreliable? Maybe if you use a phone but satellite gps works fine. And you can visit Alaska without going all the way to Anchorage. Check out Hyder, a microcosm of all things Alaska has to offer and a mere 990 miles from Seattle. Driving through British Columbia is a bonus.


June 02, 2023at12:17 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing, Ed! Team RV Lifestyle


June 02, 2023at4:51 am, K Andersun said:

This is a good list for RVers that need validation about their choice to stay home. An RV is the ONLY way to see Alaska bc despite all the wilderness etc you always have your cozy home right there. It’s what RVs are designed for. And as far as the trip taking a long time- true- it is not a trip you can do with two or three weeks vacation. Unless you fly in and rent an rv and fly out again.


June 01, 2023at10:09 pm, Vaughn Jeffery said:

An RV tour of Canada and Alaska should be on every RV owners bucket list. At least as a once in a lifetime adventure. First timers often like to travel in professionally planned and led RV caravans. Everything is pre-planned and you always have support along with you in the event of problems.


June 02, 2023at4:47 am, K Andersun said:

I’m in Alaska in an rv caravan right now- I thought it would be safest way to go. Didn’t count on horrible experiences with a power hungry first time tour group leader! Bottom line the tour companies have to take what they can get to lead these tours and they pull from work campers who- in this case anyway- focused more on making sure THEY saw and did the things they wanted. I feel like I’m along on a stranger’s vacation! I’m leaving the caravan early. Never again adventuretrek. Never again.


June 01, 2023at9:13 pm, Beth Gorton said:

Remember when no one had GPS? About 20 years ago, I did Vermont to Alaska to Seattle to Vermont, with a car and a tent and a 15 year old – it would have been so much easier if we’d had a camper! The drive, and scenery, were amazing. Being able to set – and change – our itinerary was great. We had a month to get from VT to AK to WA; then I could take my time going back east. It would have been nice to have had longer, but there was a hiking trip already scheduled for the young man; I would have liked another week or so in Alaska. The one huge downside: forest fires meant that the air quality was sometimes unbreathable. Highlights: drive up through Alberta, visiting friends and making friends in Fairbanks and Anchorage, going around by Denali, going deep sea fishing out of Homer, the indigenous arts and crafts everywhere, the ferry trip from Haines to Prince Rupert. Just do it!


June 02, 2023at12:15 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Sounds like a great trip – Thanks for sharing! Team RV Lifestyle


June 01, 2023at1:34 pm, Lynn Yeso said:

Alaska is a bucket list trip for many RVers! In 2019 we spent 61 days in Alaska and Canada with Fantasy RV Tours! Everything is planned for you; even a day to day itinerary and driving log. You will make lifetime friends! I am happy to provide more info to anyone who might be interested! We are now booking 2025 tours so don’t wait.


June 01, 2023at8:20 pm, Mike Wendland said:

We’ll be interviewing someone from Fantasy Tours on an upcoming podcast!


June 01, 2023at11:56 am, Rhian Webb said:

While all the information here is true we made the trip last spring and it was a trip of a lifetime! Yes it is remote and you have to be prepared but it is also important to remember that the local people you meet along the way are extremely helpful and friendly.


June 01, 2023at2:29 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing this and it sounds like an absolutely amazing adventure! Team RV Lifestyle


June 01, 2023at9:45 am, Dalton McCormick said:

this article sounds as though you have not made a trip to alaska by RV?


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