Known for glaciers of epic proportions, insane mountain ranges that genuinely make you feel like you’re on the way to Mordor, some of the most extreme weather conditions known to man, unrepressed wildlife, the northern lights and pure uninhibited beauty, Alaska is one of the most rugged, wild and adventurous places on earth. It spans over approximately 663,268 square miles (1,717,856 km), putting this into context, Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries. You could fit the next three largest states of the USA (California, Montana and Texas) into its vastness with room to spare. In other words it’s absolutely GARGANTUAN. For its size it remains one of the most uninhabited places on earth, only 710,249 people reside in Alaska; that’s roughly one person per square mile. Now, take the UK, there are 66 million people who live on our little island meaning there’s over 700 people in a square mile! Basically Alaska is big and empty.

This is what makes it one of the most special places I’ve ever visited, it’s a place of extremes. Extreme mountains, extreme glaciers, extreme roads, extreme wilderness, extreme cold… the list goes on… in that extremeness lies real, unadulterated beauty; it’s a sharp, jagged, looks really cold, will make your eyes hurt kind of beauty but beauty nonetheless and it’s a beauty that’s so different from anywhere else. Alaska seeps into your pores, you can’t help but be intoxicated by it. It’s solitary and almost lonely but incredibly warm at the same time. The people who live there are passionate, and proud to be Alaskan, many of them moving from different states never to return. They are genuine people, they are people who understand what it means to live a full days journey, and in some cases more, away from the next settlement. Alaska truly is ‘The Last Frontier’, it’s adventure in its truest form, it’s one of the last places on Earth where wildlife and land far outnumber and outweigh humans. This is why you should visit Alaska, and this is why you will love Alaska; it pushes you and demands respect but ultimately it will make you proud of yourself, proud that you’ve ridden in one of our planet’s last wildernesses.

Magellan have just finished the recce and the dates for the tour will be launched any minute. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the things you can look forward to experiencing on our new and exciting motorcycle journey!

The Kenai Peninsula
The Kenai lies south of Anchorage, it’s one of the few places in Alaska that’s very easy to access and by Alaskan terms it’s pretty well developed seeing tourists flood in year upon year to take in the monumental mountains and glaciers the area is so famous for. It’s also the place for wildlife, especially whales, with numerous tours going out each day to see these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat, although, if you’re lucky you can spot them from the side of the road too! Unlike the northern side of Alaska, the Kenai is coastal and you’re surrounded by water on three sides, making the scenery vastly different with wide open lakes and soaring snow-covered mountains. There’s quite a strong Russian influence in parts of the Kenai, as this is where fur traders settled after coming over the Bering Strait. As you ride through towns it’s interesting to see the Russian architecture of the original settlements dotting the landscape.

Magellan spend several days riding down the Kenai all the way to Homer, a beautiful coastal town like no other…

Homer Spit
Homer Spit, on the shore of Kachemak Bay, is often referred to as ‘the end of the road’ and you soon find out why when you arrive. A long, narrow strip of land 4.5 miles long protrudes it’s way out from the mainland, decorated with interesting shops, seafood restaurants and fishing boats lining the dock. It’s thought the Spit was formed either by large tidal swells or the result of now retreated glaciers pushing it into place. Armed with spectacular views out to the mountains and glaciers, beautiful beach walks where you can spot sea otters chilling out on the shore and seafood so good it will ruin you for life; the Homer Spit is a must for anyone visiting Alaska.

Magellan will be spending 2 nights on the Spit, giving endless opportunities for a fun filled ‘rest day’. You can wander up and down the Spit taking in the shops and restaurants, go on bear viewing tours, sea kayaking, paddle boarding or our personal favourite a glacier hike on a neighbouring, uninhabited island.

Hatcher Pass and Talkeetna
Located in the Talkeetna mountain range, the Hatcher Pass is a 49 mile gravel road that thrusts you into the wilderness and onto an area famed historically for being the third-largest lode-gold producing district in Alaska. It takes about an hour and a half to complete and you are afforded spectacular views of the jagged mountains and serene lakes that surround you around every corner. Off the gravel on the other side, the road opens out over the pine forests and sends you down on some impressive twisties before reaching the flat lands and eventually Talkeetna. Tucked between Alaska’s biggest city and North America’s biggest mountain, lies the tiny village of Talkeetna, a place known as the gateway to Alaska’s most famous national park. This charming wild west town provides a night’s stay on the tour where you can visit the famous brewing company or just take a stroll through the quaint town with its interesting shops and restaurants.

As with all of the off road sections on this trip, the Hatcher Pass is optional. Its a 3/10 difficulty wise as the gravel is very compact, but if you don’t fancy taking this road there’s a paved route around the mountains that takes the same amount of time, and will get you into Talkeetna without pushing you out of your comfort zone.

Fairbanks and The Dalton Highway
Fairbanks, known as ‘The Gateway To The North’ is the most northerly city on the paved road network in Alaska, it’s also the last town before you get to the mighty Dalton Highway. For fans of the show Ice Road Truckers, the Dalton will be no stranger to you; it’s one of the most notoriously dangerous roads in the world that takes you up to the Arctic Ocean. The catch? Its 414 miles off road with deep gravel, huge ruts and massive trucks coming at you at 90mph! Starting on the Elliott Highway, a beautiful, desolate road through a forest of pine trees with mountains in the distance, you are flung around lovely sweeping bends for about 2 hours until the tarmac suddenly disappears, being replaced by gravel. This is the start of the Dalton Highway. From here the road goes into the wilderness, up to Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields and eventually to the Arctic ocean itself.

Magellan have crafted a ‘rest day/ride out day’ in which you can ride a short, easy section of the Dalton. 60 miles up from the Dalton sign you will find the Yukon River Camp where you can have a spot of lunch and fuel up before making your way back again, this 60 mile section is a 5/10 difficulty wise, with loose gravel and a few small holes. If you don’t fancy doing this but you want to see the Dalton sign, you can ride the Elliott Highway and the sign is located about 2 minutes up from where the tarmac turns to gravel. This is a ride out worth doing, if for nothing else you can send pictures to your family and friends of you on one of the most notorious roads in the world!

The Denali Highway and Paxon
There are only really two main roads in Alaska one up and one down, linking them is a 135 mile stretch of off road goodness called the Denali Highway. The gateway to this beautiful road through the mountains is Paxon, there on the hill sits a motel owned by a lady who’s family has been in the area for so long, that one of the mountains is named after her grandmother! To get to Paxon you follow the gorgeous highway from Delta Junction, past the Trans Alaska pipeline and round a series of impressive twisties. From here, its a 20 mile journey on paved roads up into the mountains before you hit the gravel, marking the start of the Denali Highway; arguably one of the most stunning roads Alaska has to offer.

Magellen have engineered the route to incorporate an optional rideout day, so you can experience the Denali Highway in all of its glory. The road itself is a 5/10 difficulty wise, with sections of deep gravel and large pot holes, and there’s a blanket speed limit of 30mph. Halfway along the road you will come to Clear Water Mountain Lodge, where you can grab a burger before heading off on the second leg. Once at the end of the Denali you turn the bike around and come back the way you came to arrive at Paxon once more. We highly recommend experiencing the Denali if you want beauty, wilderness and adventurous riding in equal measure. If you don’t fancy a day off roading, you can rent a kayak to spend the day out on the lake and take a picnic down to the small beach, where you are afforded some of the best views in Alaska.

McCarthy
Mccarthy is a very rare town, in 2010 it was recorded that only 28 people reside there; even more unusual is that the only way into Mccarthy is by a bridge just wide enough to squeeze a motorcycle down, meaning no cars allowed! To add to this, in order to get there you either have to ride 60 miles off road through the utter wilderness, charter a plane to fly you in or get driven in courtesy of a 4×4. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Mccarthy has an old world charm that’s difficult to find anywhere. After discovering copper in 1900s, the area was heavily mined until 1938 when the copper supply diminished and the town was ultimately abandoned. Now the tiny town is a popular tourist attraction with people coming year upon year to take advantage of the endless hiking opportunities and unparalleled scenery.

Magellan have a rideout day to Mccarthy, where there are several options available for an adventurous day out. There are glacier and copper mine hikes, kayaking, flight excursions or you can just kick back and walk around the old shops in the high street. Whatever you decide Mccarthy is a very special and unusual town that you’re sure to enjoy!

The Thompson Pass and Worthington Glacier walk
The Thompson Pass is a 2,600 foot high gap in the Chugach Mountains northeast of Valdez. It’s the snowiest place in the whole of Alaska, recording 500 inches of snow per year. We take this gorgeous, twisty road past imposing snow-covered mountains and through the deep eerie canyon experiencing waterfalls and glaciers along the way. On the pass there’s the opportunity to stop at Worthington Glacier, where, if you are up for a 1.5 mile walk you can experience the glacier up close and personal. This is well worth doing as it’s not only beautiful, but free! It’s the only place in Alaska where you can get this close to a glacier and not pay for it. 2 minutes up the road from the glacier there’s a beautiful viewpoint where you can look back and see the utterly jaw dropping mountain range.

The Glenn Highway
Named as one of the top ten roads in North America, The Glenn Highway is easily one of the most scenic and twisty rides in Alaska. On the last night of our epic adventure, we stay in the heart of the Matanuska region at a beautiful lodge with unparalleled views out to the severe looking horizon littered with high, Lord of the Rings esque mountains and beautiful glaciers. We leave the lodge in the morning to ride the spectacular Glenn Highway, zooming down the mountain side and through the canyons to reach Matanuska Glacier, one of the few places you can actually walk on a glacier; for the small price of $16. This is of course worth every penny!

This is our last adventure on the bikes for this trip, as we head back to Anchorage to drop the bikes off. One of the best roads in North America and walking on a glacier, we say that’s one way to end on a high!!

So there you have it. Adventure, check! Beauty, check! Fantastic roads, check! Interesting experiences, check! Wildlife, check! Are you sure to have an amazing time?? YES!

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