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ADV RidesTop 10 Must-See Destinations on an Alaska Motorcycle Trip

Top 10 Must-See Destinations on an Alaska Motorcycle Trip

 Alaska native, tour guide and travel author shares his top spots for ADV Riders.

Published on 09.22.2015

 
Alaska always seems to come up as a top bucket list destination for Adventure Riders and it’s easy to see why. America’s “Last Frontier” offers vast untouched natural beauty and pristine landscapes that are unsurpassed in North America. With endless miles of challenging routes to explore, an adventure motorcycle is the perfect tool to fully experience all Alaska has to offer. Here are ten must-see destinations for any Adventure Rider interested in taking an Alaska motorcycle trip.

1. Prudhoe Bay

Pruhoe Bay Alaska motorcycle tripCourtesy Phil Freeman

This is the farthest north you can ride a motorcycle on the continent. The road is 414 miles long out of Fairbanks, and throws at you broken chip seal and a calcium chloride infused dirt surface. It also is the mother lode of sloppy grater and water truck road construction and wind blasting semis, headed to the bay. This is one destination you don’t want to skip on your Alaska motorcycle trip! It offers excellent remote scenery and does not bore; the view is just as good going up as it is going back south. But don’t try to do this ride all in one sitting, many riders have attempted it, and many have succumbed to either road conditions or stamina.


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Courtesy Phil Freeman

2. Denali Highway

Denali Highway Alaska motorcycle tripCourtesy Phil Freeman

This is the original entrance to Denali National Park and is over 120 miles of dirt loveliness. The scenery is epic, the remoteness is real (yes, you are now part of the food chain) and stopping and exploring along the way is off the charts. The Alaska Range parallels this entire ride, and offers scene after scene of quintessential “Alaska.” There are mining roads that meander this way and that, off the main road, which make for hard-core adventure. Do not go alone into this world; bring a buddy, and the willingness to adventure! Stay over at Gracious House (mile 82) and save a day or two for exploring from there. Pack a fly rod if you are into that kind of thing. Bring a camera: you will be seeing some furry friends.

3. Manley Hot Springs

Manley Hot SpringsCourtesy Phil Freeman

This town was started around the turn of the last century as a stop-over for gold seekers. It is a veritable oasis in the midst of unadulterated wilderness. The Road House in Town offers refuge, camping, food and bar. A dip in the hot springs is worth every cent and is a very unique experience. There are two roads worth exploring: The road to Tofty and the road to Ruby (Wyatt Earp’s famed Gold Rush Residence). Mind “No Trespassing” signs, as you are riding through gold mining country. Gear up light, get on your pegs and get ready for some great jeep trails! Never hurts to talk to the locals as conditions change out on these far, outpost roads.

4. Central

Bear Crossing the Road CentralCourtesy Phil Freeman

This is the unsung hero of adventure riding in Alaska. It is remote, rugged, and the Alaska Flags replace the American ones. The people are hardy, welcoming and will help you seek out some fantastic jeep two-track stuff that fans out from the main road. If you go out there, plan for a couple of days riding. The old gold mining roads out there allow you to access places that literally no one goes to anymore. Make sure to check out Circle City on the Yukon out there. Ride out in the morning and get ready to see some critters.

5. McCarthy

McCarthy General Store Alaska motorcycle tripCourtesy Phil Freeman

This destination is a MUST. It is the old miner’s entertainment town that services the Copper mine at Kennicott, just up the hill. The road out there is a 60-mile dirt blast, the base of which is the old railroad that used to service the mine until the late 30’s. Make sure to stop at the Kuskulana Bridge and check out the cat walks underneath. This is a step back in time, and the best thing about it is that only motorcycles can get across to the town and mine! You may cross at the pedestrian bridge; just make sure there is no one on it. The town is locked in time and the mine is amazing. Take some time there and consider the tour of the mine building at Kennicott. Also, enjoy the old wagon road that links the mine with the town, and passes by the old cemetery. Truly ADV stuff here.

6. Hope

Hope Road in Alaska motorcycle tripCourtesy Phil Freeman

This old gold mining town has seen more prosperous days, but if you like stepping back in time, watching bald eagles, salmon climbing up the river and riding dirt roads through the mountains, this is your spot. Make sure to stop by the Seaview Cafe for seafood chowder or pie at Tito’s Cafe. The ride up Palmer Creek Road is fun and ends in old gold mining ruins. This is a great day ride out of Anchorage, but it’s not bad for an overnight stay either.

7. Petersville Road

View of Mt. McKinley 'Denali' from Petersville Rd Courtesy Timothy Wildey

This is an access road out of Trapper Creek which offers south facing views of Mt. McKinley. It climbs to above tree line and veers west down Cache Creek. It offers on-the-pegs riding, creek crossings and general ADV fun. You can easily spend a couple of days back there exploring trails.

8. Top of the World Highway

Top of the World Highway Alaska Motorcycle TripCourtesy Phil Freeman

Ride from Tok to Dawson and experience great dirt and paved roads that offer broad views and history. Make sure to leave a couple of hours to ride to Eagle on the Yukon River. Dawson itself is a treat and worth a couple of days. Take the Solomon Mine 60-mile circuit out of town and visit the original gold strikes on a dirt road just made for the ADV rider. Make sure to drop by the Downtown Hotel and get yourself a “Sourdough Cocktail” (a drink with a human toe in it!) – You are now an honorary Sourdough!

9. Crown Point

Harding Ice Field in Crown Point AlaskaCourtesy Madeleine Deaton

This is not a long ride but huge in the scale of epic. Ride through Moose Pass on the Kenai Peninsula south, and once out of town you cross the Trail River Bridge and take left. Follow for a couple miles and take the first left. It is just an ATV trail, so come riding light, and get ready to climb thousands of feet to an old gold mine which overlooks Kenai Lake and the Harding Ice Field. Simply amazing.

10. Nabesna Road

Nabesna Road Alaska Motorcycle TripCourtesy Phil Freeman

This is a 40-mile jaunt into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The park itself is impressive, harboring 9 of the 16 tallest peaks on the continent, and is the largest preserve in the United States. The road starts out civil, then throws at you dirt surface and stream crossings, and turns to “rustic”. At the end of the road, past the airstrip, take off your riding boots and put on some hiking shoes and explore the old gold mines up there. There are places in which the miners just left everything behind, and now nature is taking over. This ride is notable as the finish is much more scenic than the start.

Author: Phil Freeman

MotoQuest founder Phil Freeman is an adventurer through and through. Born and raised in Alaska, Phil boasts more than 20 years experience traveling Alaska by motorcycle, and co-authored the award-winning book “The Adventurous Motorcyclist’s Guide to Alaska.” MotoQuest offers guided motorcycle tours around the world and motorcycle rentals in the West Coast of the U.S. Want more great tips on riding Alaska? Go check out The 10 Dos and Don’ts of the Dalton.

Author: Phil Freeman
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5 thoughts on “Top 10 Must-See Destinations on an Alaska Motorcycle Trip

  1. Pingback: TW Alaska Tour 2017...TWAT 17 - Page 9

  2. Great article. I have been lusting for a ride to Alaska on my F800GSA and trying to get psyched up for it. But one concern is how to deal with the mosquito situation if camping much of the time and probably being on the road for 3-4 weeks. Are some areas worse than others, and is there a best time where they are minimal but it is not too cold?

    • Mosquitoes are a factor but most riders find them not to be a big factor. It really depends on where you stop, where you camp. It also heavily relies on the snow fall the previous winter (more stagnant water, more bugs). If you bring a bug net, some spray, you will be fine. I find that camp sights that are away from heavily forested, non windy spots are the worst. By rivers, on crests of hills..places where you can get some relief from the wind help much! I hope this helps!

  3. Hello Phil.
    As I am planning a trip to AK, I found your website and story. Fantastic buddy, I am happy to see there are people like you out there.
    I would love to get in touch with you to get some insight on what to prepare for my trip, as I will be leaving NYC to don’t know where in AK (need to find out a point of return) and most likely I will be alone.
    Any input would be very helpful.
    Thanks buddy,
    All the best
    Luiz
    brazeagle@yahoo.com