remoteness, Alaska is blessed with wonderful roads.
Considering our winters, its a good thing! Roads in Alaska do not
go up to high elevations or they would be in permanent snow. If they
were steep, they would be too icy to climb all winter.
Many of the pictures you see in our catalog look like
they were taken at high elevations. Bear in mind that this far
north, tree line is rarely as high as 2500 feet, and often much lower.
That opens up a world of beautiful Alpine scenery without having to deal
with lung-busting thin air!
Since virtually none of
the land was in private ownership before the highways were built, there
was never a necessity to build roads around someone's property lines.
Therefore the roads very effectively finesse the terrain, winding as
necessary to avoid hills and to keep grades even.
Alaska is certainly well known for
Fortunately the roads in the north country pass through the
mountains rather than over them. For example, when we cross the Alaska
Range at Isabel Pass (the highest point on our tours), the road only
climbs to 3200 feet. As a rule, the
steepest grades on our larger highways is 6% (same as on Interstate
Highways.) And the greatest one day
elevation gain on either tour is only 1800 feet!
Most of the Richardson Highway has
wide shoulders, such as this spot about 35 miles out of Valdez.
This road cross section is typical of the entire highway, except for the
section in the next photo.
On the northern Richardson Highway
between Delta junction and Paxson, the road is mostly shoulderless.
When the Parks highway was completed in 1972, this section of road was
bypassed by the vast majority of traffic. Since then vehicle
traffic on this stretch of road has been negligible As a
consequence all the lodges and gas stations closed long ago and we eat
lunch out of the van.