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
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
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:
- The Ultimate ‘Bug Off!’ Shopping List for Your RV
- 5 Best Mosquito & Bug Nets for Camping
- Best Mosquito Repellent Device for Camping (7 Options)
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!
4. Unpredictable Weather
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):
- How to Not Get Stuck in the Cold! (30+ RV Winter Driving Tips AND Interactive Maps!)
- 11 Crucial Emergency Winterization Tips for Campers Caught in Sudden Cold
- 10 Tips to Keep Your RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping
5. Limited RV Services and Repair Facilities
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:
- Preventative Maintenance Every RVer Should Do
- When to Replace RV Tires (Advice from Real RVers)
- RV Home Study Tech Course
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
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
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.