Richardson Highway

Richardson Highway: a historic trip from Valdez to Fairbanks in AK

Richardson Highway is the name of a very scenic drive into the heart of Alaska's mining districts, connecting Valdez to Fairbanks. It was the first major road built in the state.

How long is Richardson Highway in Alaska?

Known to locals as the “Adventure Corridor”, the road is 368 miles (562 km) long connecting Valdez (a city in the Chugach Census Area) to Fairbanks (the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska). It unfolds as a grand cross section of Alaska.

Is Richardson Highway in Alaska paved?

The road is totally paved. It is primarily a two-lane road, but becomes a four-lane road as it approaches Fairbanks. It’s in fair to good condition, with some sections of frost heaves and patched pavement. Expect very little traffic, even in the summer. It is recommended that travelers fill up with fuel whenever passing through a real town. Do not rely on the availability of gasoline at remote roadhouses. Sections of the road feature a high risk of mudslide and landslides.

When was the Richardson Highway paved?

The Richardson Highway (formerly known as the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail and Valdez to Eagle Trail) takes you through some of Alaska's more interesting country. It’s said to be Alaska's oldest highway. The trail began in 1898 as a route from Valdez to Eagle. The history of the road is rooted in the days of the gold rush. General Wilds P. Richardson worked to upgrade it to a wagon road in 1910, it was made suitable for automobiles in the 1920's and was finally paved in 1957.

Is Richardson Highway in Alaska open?

The road is typically open all year round, with the occasional closure in winters due to dangerous weather conditions. It tops out at Isabel Pass, at 1.005m (3,297ft) above the sea level.

How long does it take to drive the Richardson Highway in Alaska?

The drive is very scenic, with views of glaciers, waterfalls, towering mountains and expansive scenery. Plan 7 hours to complete the drive without any stop. However, due its beauty and the incredibly rewarding views, plan a couple of days. It offers magnificent views of the Chugach Mountains and Alaska Range, and some of the best glacier viewing in Alaska. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, can be seen from the highway.