"Richardson Highway (Fairbanks to Valdez)" Top 5 Page for this destination Alaska Travelogue by PA2AKgirl
Alaska Travel Guide: 6,662 reviews and 14,000 photos
We've traveled the Richardson, in non-consecutive stretches from Fairbanks to Valdez. We took it up from Delta Junction to Fairbanks last September and then straight through to Glennallen from Fairbanks this spring. Last weekend (July 22nd 2007), we did the last stretch from Glennallen to Valdez. While it does have some boring sections, overall, it's a wonderful route to take for scenery and wildlife.
Leaving Fairbanks, the ride isn't too exciting for about the first 40 miles. Maybe longer. One of the attractions is North Pole, Alaska, though. Yes, touristy. Yes, inaccurate. But still, an attraction. We stopped there to sit in Santa's sleigh and see the reindeer. Really, North Pole is a suburb of Fairbanks close to Eielson Air Base.
The first time we drove this, we got a nice view of sunrise over the river. There are a few scenic turnouts along the Tanana worth photographing.
The road, like the Dalton Highway/Haul Road, runs alongside the pipeline. There are some good views of it and information throughout the drive. We don't so much care about the actual pipeline as the people who built it and how it survives such drastic seasonal changes and permafrost when the roads don't fare so well.
There are some very large lakes right beside the road. This one is Summit Lake up at 3200+ feet. With the elevation comes snow. It wasn't cold here when we visited but the snow still had a long way to go before it completely melted. Anytime it's flat enough to see for miles, I get a picture. It doesn't happen often on our Alaska trips.
Usually, I'm not happy there's snow but it really helps to see the wildlife. Bobby spotted this fox as we were driving by. We stopped and watched him try to run in very deep snow. He then got to the ridge and sat like a housecat watching us--batting his tail and everything. The snow helped us see quite a few other animals on this drive.
You'll go through a few towns on this road--certainly more gas stations (single pump) than we're used to when we drive a good distance. Delta Junction and Glennallen are the towns on the way to Valdez or Fairbanks with more options than the rest. From Delta Junction you can turn onto the Alaska Highway to Tok or at/near Glennallen you can turn onto the Glenn Highway or the Tok Cutoff.
It was really difficult choosing a picture to sum up the last 100+ miles but this is definitely a highlight. Worthington Glacier near Thompson Pass is visible right from the road before you begin heading down into Keystone Canyon. This area is probably one of the most beautiful sections of highway I've ever been on.
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