What is spectacular about Alaska are its roads. You drive between snow capped peaks and immense bodies of water, cascading rivers, or green valleys tucked under tall mountains. The roads are good and with sparse traffic, sometimes giving you the feeling that you are on the road by yourself. Most of the cars on the roads are RVs or pick up trucks, caring bikes or kayaks, giving a sense of adventure like in no other place. You have the feeling that the entire wilderness is yours that you somehow forcefully share with the bears and the moose.
Everywhere you go in Alaska, including when you drive on the highway, you feel that you are in a National Park and you are not far from it, no matter that technically only eight parks are located in Alaska. Somehow everywhere you go you’d meet a ranger that would tell you that Alaska is meant to be left as wilderness and you are the occasional intruder and the wildlife is meant to feel undisturbed and at home there. The mountains that these parks contain encircle the top 10 of the highest peaks in the entire USA while Alaska’s size is as large as 1/5 of the lower 48 states and its coast is longer than the entire lower 48 coast combined.
These large spaces and distances give you a feeling of freedom that I was able to experience only in the South-West USA desert. Richardson Highway connects Fairbanks to the city of Valdez. On Google Maps it shows about 6 hours of driving but as previously noted it’s no way that you can drive it in what the GPS says but most probably in about 9 hours. The spectacular scenery makes you continuously stop on the way, the weather changes from bright sun, to clouds, drizzle and again sun and all peaks around glitter in this whimsical weather and scintillating light.The road reaches passes where glaciers are inching down to huge lakes and occasional human settlements that you feel that were thrown there by mistake, in a complete wilderness, in the middle of nowhere.
Close to Valdez, the road surges to Thomson Pass that has on its top the Worthington Glacier, a highly accessible glacier. From there you are descending into the city that is also the terminal point of the Alaskan pipeline, the artery that carries the oil from Prudhoe Bay, a resource that is able to bring self sufficiency to the state.