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Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

Tampa, FL
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Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

Hi- My family and I are looking to drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks in early March and were wondering what the road conditions were like. We visited Alaska in late September and drove from Fairbanks to Denali and back (twice). The roads seemed decent, although a bit scary going in and out of Fairbanks near the mountains/ hills.

Is Denali Park to Anchorage mountainous/ flat/ steep/ safe/ scary? We have two little ones, so safety is key. Also- we'd be in a rental vehicle... can you request four wheel drive?

Thanks for any information!

Tampa, FL
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1. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

Oh and we're from Florida, so we don't drive in snow very often (only when on vacation).

Wasilla, Alaska
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2. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

You can do it in a front wheel drive car, but if you can get a four wheel drive it'll help.

The drive from Anchorage is fairly straight forward. That stretch from Nenana to Fairbanks is pretty hairy when it's slick. From Anchorage to Denali only has a few hills of note.

Be sure and have plenty of water and warm clothing in the car, just in case. There are stretches with no cell phone coverage.

The weather is always the wild card. It could be clear and dry or blowing snow or at that time of year it could be pouring rain. Just be sure and drive according to the conditions and you'll be fine.

Tampa, FL
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3. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

Thanks a lot for replying so quick AKStafford! Do you know if the drive from Anchorage to Denali has any switchbacks or goes on the side of large hills/ mountains without guard rails? I ask because we drove around north of fairbanks and that was a bit scary with a little snow in September. Just trying to make sure it's a drive we could actually handle.... being from Florida I'm very intimidated by the snow and ice.

Our biggest reason for going to Fairbanks is to see the Northern lights... they were hiding behind the clouds the entire time during our last trip. Given this, are there any stops south of Fairbanks that would do the trick on meeting this objective and still be easy to travel with two little ones (ages 4 & 3)? Thanks again!

Wasilla, Alaska
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4. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

I live here in Wasilla and see the Northern Lights.

The 3 keys to seeing Northern Lights is dark skies, clear skies, and aurora activity. The aurora activity is random luck. Fairbanks can tend to have more clear weather, but it's still mostly luck.

You could stay in Girdwood, Wasilla, Palmer, or Talkeetna and save a lot of driving.

Between here and Denali there's two spots where the road drops down into a creek and then climbs back up. But there's guardrails. Just watch your speed.

Healy, Alaska
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5. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

So - you are only going to Fairbanks to hopefully see northern lights? Now, if you are planning to do more, like go to the Ice Park, etc., then I would go to Fairbanks, but if you are only wanting to see the lights, I would do as AKStafford suggests and not drive that far. Once you get north of Talkeetna and into the Interior, temperatures often drop significantly. What is your itinerary? Maybe sharing that will help us a bit more to help you. :)

Edited: 1:01 pm, January 03, 2014
Anchorage, Alaska
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6. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

"Do you know if the drive from Anchorage to Denali has any switchbacks or goes on the side of large hills/ mountains without guard rails?"

You will not encounter any switchbacks or "dangerous/nervous areas" without guardrails.

The biggest problem I have with the drive is when encountering oncoming traffic (mostly in the form of big trucks) that blow up snow. I usually pick a "line-of-sight" to drive in case the blown-up snow is extreme. Other then that, as others state, drive within your ability (pul over and let faster traffic pass).'

Good luck,

Scott

7. Re: Driving Anchorage to Fairbanks in Early March

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