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Five Tips for Roadtripping to Alaska with Dogs

dog car

Meet Rocky.

Rocky is ready to go on vacation with his mom and dad. He hates it when they go places without him, and he knows they will have a lot more fun if they take him along. He hears they are going to Alaska. He doesn’t know where that is, but road trips to places like Grocery Store, Dog Park, and Vet’s Office have always been fun, so he’s game. Rocky likes Alaska with dogs.

Here’s a checklist for how Mom and Dad are going to make sure Rocky enjoys his car ride.

1. Travel Documents in Order

Mom and Dad need proper documentation to cross the US-Canada border and so does Rocky. He has a certificate of vaccination for rabies. Canada just wants to know that he’s up to date, but in order to get back into the US, Rocky’s vaccination must be at least 30 days old (but not expired).

Rocky’s awfully excited that Canadian and US Border agents will perform a visual inspection of him. He hopes the examination will last a long time and include belly rubs, but it’s pretty routine (even though happy fun inspection time costs $30 each time you cross the border).

2. Avoid the Wildlife

Rocky loves to chase squirrels. And cats. And other dogs. So his mom and dad are a little worried what he might think about bears and cougars and wolves. While the whole family is more than a little excited about Denali sightseeing, the official rules are “dogs are not allowed on trails, in the backcountry, or left unattended at any time.” Sounds like a good plan—packing the long leash and a list of alternate areas to explore.

dog in woods

3. Route Carefully Planned

Mom and Dad can get to Alaska by road through Canada or they can travel part way by ferry.

Rocky loves ferries, but the weekly ferry from Bellingham, WA to Ketchikan, AK takes two days and he must remain on the car deck the entire time. Rocky could make good friends with the purser who lets Mom and Dad into the car deck every time he needs to be fed, watered, or walked, but he is worried he’ll get lonely.

Driving any number of roads that make up the Alaska Highway is a more flexible travel option for the family. The only weirdness is that Pit Bulls are not allowed to enter Ontario. Seriously.

dog walking

4. Rest Breaks Prioritized

Mom and Dad once drove halfway across Texas without a potty break. Rocky is anxious to please and will hold it as long as he can, but it’s stressful when you don’t know how long you have to hold out. Plan on stopping frequently at rest areas and city parks—anywhere the whole family can stretch their legs and get some water. It may lengthen the trip, but avoiding a pee-soaked car is worth every minute.

dogs playing

5. Kennel Packed

Rocky feels safer when he’s in a kennel in the back of the car. His kennel has a metal grate with four locking bars so he can’t chew his way out if he gets bored. Plus, the kennel gives him someplace safe and familiar to sleep when he’s camping.

dog friendly

Do you have any other great tips for Rocky’s parents?

This guest post was written by Isla McKetta, MFA who would much rather play with Rocky than work on her next novel (and he knows it). Connect with her on Google+.


  1. Crystal says

    I had NO IDEA there was a ferry from Washington to Alaska! That actually makes me kind of excited, because I have been desperately wanting to do a trip to Alaska with the dogs, but am leery of driving for 10 days through rough country to get there, and don’t want to fly my dogs in luggage.

    • Carol Bryant says

      I so want to go to Alaska with my dog – that is one state I have never been to and I always travel with my dog. Would love to know if you go, Crystal, and how you liked it.

  2. Andy Uhl says

    Wow, I never thought that so much would be involved when taking a trip across the border!
    A few things I would add to your post is to make sure that you have the essentials with you: leash, dog food, water bowl, and even dog treats at all times.

  3. Chris and Bo Jangles says

    Planning a trip from Texas to Alaska by minivan with a friend and my big boxer. Will be camping when ever possible. This will be our longest trip to date, look forward to it. Thanks for all of your info.

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