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When road-tripping through Alaska, several highways offer spectacular views of glaciers, mountains, lakes, and valleys. We’ve traveled a few of them and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
The landscape and abundant wildlife are remarkable! One highway in Alaska, the Taylor Highway, is no exception, as it takes you through 160 miles of beautiful, open land.
Alaska is known for its rugged wilderness, so it’s nicknamed the Last Frontier. When traveling the Taylor Highway, you might feel as though you’ve been transported back in time. And although remote, it’s worth the preparation. Let’s learn more about this popular roadway!
Where Is the Taylor Highway?
Also known as Highway 5, the Taylor Highway travels through eastern Alaska’s old gold mining regions. It connects to the Top of the World Highway, which continues east to Dawson City, Yukon.
At Mile Marker 0, you start in Tetlin Junction and travel north-northeast. At the Jack Wade Junction, you’re about 14 miles from the Canadian border. From here, the highway travels north to Eagle.
For travelers continuing east into Canada, this is where the Top of the World Highway begins.
How Long Is it?
The Taylor Highway stretches 160 miles through eastern Alaska. Tetlin Junction, where it begins, lies about 11 miles east of Tok. Eagle, where it ends, sits about 64 miles north of the Jack Wade Junction.
Although the first 60 miles of the Taylor Highway in Alaska is paved, the remaining roadway is gravel.
Why Do People Travel the Taylor Highway?
It’s a slow and steady drive because so much of Highway 5 is unpaved. So why do people travel the Taylor Highway? One reason is the lure of driving the Top of the World Highway. It’s one of the most northern routes in North America and takes visitors through beautiful wilderness.
On the Alaskan side, travelers pass through the Fortymile goldfields, the historic town of Chicken, and the gold rush community of Eagle.
These small communities have a rich heritage and provide places for visitors to learn more about the gold rush era and the native people who lived here long before the white settlers. At Fortymile, you might get to see the famous Fortymile caribou herd!
The Poker Creek-Little Gold Creek border crossing sits a few miles west of Jack Wade Junction. To the east, the Top of the World Highway takes drivers to Dawson City, Yukon, about 80 miles away. To the west, the route joins the Taylor Highway in Alaska at Mile Marker 95.
There’s something cool about crossing the border here since it’s North America’s most northern international border. And the only way to get here from the Alaskan side is to drive Highway 5.
Is the Taylor Highway Dangerous?
The Taylor Highway in Alaska isn’t dangerous due to narrow roads or steep mountain passes. But it could potentially be difficult because of its remote location. You also won’t have cell service for much of the drive, and you’ll more likely encounter wildlife on the road than other travelers.
The unpaved portions of this highway can also be dangerous depending on road maintenance. There are rough spots, and you don’t always have a warning sign. From Jack Wade Junction to Eagle, it is entirely gravel.
Can RVs Travel the Taylor Highway?
Some people will warn against taking RVs the 64 miles from Jack Wade Junction to Eagle because of the poor road surface. It’s not dangerous as far as the height, length, or width. There are no size limitations. But the rough gravel road is enough to deter some RVers from making that trek.
On the other hand, some travelers do make the journey. The highway from Tetlin Junction to Chicken is perfectly fine for RVs. In fact, we loved our visit to Chicken, Alaska. You can read more about it in our article “Is Chicken, Alaska, Worth Visiting?”
Can You Camp Along the Taylor Highway?
Traveling Alaska differs from touring the Southwest. You don’t have many dispersed camping locations, even though you have mostly wilderness. Along the Taylor Highway in Alaska, overnight camping isn’t allowed at BLM wayside.
However, you have four campgrounds along the route — one at Mile Marker 49, one in Chicken, one at Mile Marker 82, and one in Eagle.
Keep in Mind: Eagle, Alaska has a small population, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting! See what Eagle, Alaska has to offer.
Tips for Driving the Taylor Highway
The biggest tip for driving Highway 5 is to remember how far you are from services and amenities. Make sure you fill up your fuel tank and empty your waste tanks before hitting the road.
You’ll also want to pack plenty of water and food. The only place you’ll find food is in Chicken. And if the outpost or restaurant is closed, you’re out of luck.
Finally, drive the Taylor Highway in Alaska during the day. There’s too much wildlife to risk night driving. Hunting is also prevalent, so don’t leave the designated highway. Driving during the day is the safest way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of eastern Alaska.
Is this highway Open Year-Round?
The Taylor Highway only remains open during the summer because of hazardous conditions during the winter. Snowmobiles can access the highway from October to April.
The border crossing at Poker Creek-Little Gold Creek only stays open seasonally as well, so make sure you do your research beforehand if you plan on entering Canada.
Where Is the International Border Crossing?
Although the Taylor Highway in Alaska doesn’t technically extend to the border, many travelers continue past Jack Wade Junction to join the Top of the World Highway.
The Poker Creek-Little Gold Creek border crossing, North America’s northernmost international border, lies 14 miles from Highway 5. It’s open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Alaskan time during the summer only.
It’s important to note that there is a one-hour time difference between the Alaskan and Canadian sides. Make sure to plan accordingly.
Pro Tip: Before you try crossing the Canadian border in your RV, here’s what you’ll need!
Enjoy the Beauty and Wilderness of Alaska Along the Taylor Highway
The Taylor Highway in Alaska offers visitors a glimpse into the rugged wilderness of the Last Frontier. It also takes travelers back in time to the gold rush era.
So, the next time you plan a road trip through Alaska, consider taking this route to learn more about this region’s history and enjoy the beauty of the landscapes.
You might also see caribou, moose, bears, elk, mountain goats, and other wildlife along the journey.
Have you ever driven the Taylor Highway in Alaska? Are there other tips you’d like to share?