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Route Two:  Flying the Inland Route along the Alaska Highway


·        The inland route along the Alaska Highway is simply the reverse of a portion of route one, and all of routes four and five, which are described in Section Two.  Significant mountainous terrain exists from Anchorage all the way to Fort Nelson, British Columbia (CYYE), so the recommended IFR route is along the published airways:  the first leg is approximately 500 nm and departs the Anchorage/Kenai Peninsula area toward MATTA intersection, then fly V456 Gulkana VOR (GKN) or the adjacent Glennallen NDB (GLA), the G8 airway to BEFTI intersection and onward to Northway VOR (ORT) or the adjacent Nabesna NDB (AES), then V444 to Beaver Creek NDB (YXQ) , then A2 to Burwash NDB (DB), then direct to Whitehorse, Yukon (CYXY).  The highest MEA along this route is 10,000 feet.  The second leg on this recommended IFR route is approximately 395 nm, and the highest MEA is 9,000 feet:  depart Whitehorse (CYXY) and fly A2 past Watson Lake VOR (YQH), and Liard River NDB (ZL), to Fort Nelson, British Columbia (CYYE).  The third leg has no significant terrain, and can be flown from Fort Nelson, British Columbia (CYYE) direct to either Peace River VOR (YPE) or Fort St. John VOR (YXJ) and then direct to Edmonton City Centre airport (CYXD).


·        If flying IFR, use the NACO L-1 enroute chart and the Canadian LO 5 and LO 1 enroute charts (1.5MB, expect slow download).  If flying VFR, use the NACO Anchorage and Whitehorse sectional charts, as well as the following Canadian sectional charts:  Whitehorse, Atlin, Fort Nelson, Prince George and Edmonton.  A large portion of this route can be flown using the Canadian sectional chart entitled Alaska Highway.


·        Whether flown VFR or IFR, the trip from the Anchorage/Kenai Peninsula area to Edmonton is more than one days’ flying time for most pilots.  So plan on an overnight stop in either Whitehorse, Watson Lake, or Fort Nelson and then another overnight stop in either Edmonton or Calgary.


·        When VFR conditions prevail, consider flying visually along the Alaska Highway (rather than IFR) from the Anchorage/Kenai Peninsula area to Whitehorse, Yukon (CYXY), then to Fort Nelson, British Columbia (CYYE), then to Edmonton City Centre airport (CYXD).  It affords a birds’ eye view of some of the magnificent valley, mountain ranges and glaciers that characterize this region.  Depending on your comfort level, the height of the valley floor at a given point and the weather, you can fly at 3,500 or 5,500 feet for this entire route, or you can go higher and be near or at the tops of the mountains (generally below 7,500 feet) for the entire route. 


1.      The first leg goes from Anchorage to Gulkana (PAGK), a distance of approximately 140 nm.  Depart Anchorage, following the highway at a heading of 19 degrees along the Cook Inlet as it heads toward Palmer (PAAQ); then fly at a heading of 49 degrees, following the highway over the Matanuska River and its valley to Sheep Mountain (PASP).  Continue through the Tahneta Pass, which is 3,300 feet msl and is surrounded by 6-7,000 foot high mountains:  this pass is actually an active fault that separates the Chugach Mountains and its glaciers to the south and the Talkeetna Mountains and its Dall sheep to the north, so be on the lookout for both snow and sheep.  Beyond the Tahneta Pass is Eureka/Skelton (PAZK), which is the highest elevation aiport in Alaska (3,289 feet); AWOS available on 134.95.  Continue on a 49 degree heading to Gulkana (PAGK):  just before Gulkana airport catch a view of the Trans Alaska Pipeline as it passes north/south on its way to the new port town of Valdez (PAVD) (the original town was submerged and destroyed by the 1964 earthquake).


2.      The second leg goes from Gulkana (PAGK) to Northway (PAOR), a distance of 276 nm.  Two options are available:  either fly direct to Northway (PAOR) at 7,500 feet over the Copper River Basin and the Alaska Range (37 degree heading for 110 nm); or follow the highway for 135 nm as it winds through the basin and mountains.  This latter option departs Gulkana VOR (GKN) at a 360 degree heading and follows the highway through the Copper River Basis past Duffy’s Tavern (PADT), then through the Mentasta Pass (2,400 feet high) to Tok Junction (6K8) through the 6,000 foot high mountains of the Alaska Range, then at a heading of 100 degrees to Northway (PAOR) across the broad wetlands of the Tanana River.  Northway airport has a 3,300 foot gravel runway, with fuel, food and US customs.  The runway was once 5,100 feet long until a recent earthquake shortened it and left it in a decrepit state.


3.      The third leg goes from Northway (PAOR) to Beaver Creek (CYXQ), to Haines Junction (CYHT), to Whitehorse (CYXY), a distance of 254 nm.  Depart Northway VOR (ORT) on the 70 degree radial and you will pick up the highway about five miles past Northway airport (PAOR) as it traverses the broad wetlands of the Tanana and Chisana Rivers.  Follow the highway at a 110 degree heading to Beaver Creek (CYXQ).  The Alaska/Yukon border is ten miles before Beaver Creek.  Proceed through the wide Shakwak Trench to Burwash NDB (DB), which is at the northwestern tip of Kluane Lake (the largest in the Yukon and is notorious for high winds, so check the weather first).  Follow the highway at a 110 degree heading along the edge of the lake to Haines Junction (CYHT).  From there continue following the highway at a 66 degree heading to Whitehorse, Yukon (CYXY), first parallel to the Dezadeash River and then along the wide valley of the Takhini River.  In the distance to the south and west are towering 14,000 to 18,000 foot high mountain peaks and the immense ice fields of the Kaskawulsh, Hubbard, Seward, Malaspina, Logan and Columbus Glaciers.  If weather and time permit, it is worth considering a diversion to fly over any portion of these forbidding and breathtaking sights.


·        Listed below are directory information, diagrams and instrument approach procedures for each of the airports mentioned in Route Two (or, in the case of a navigation aid, the associated airport).  This information was obtained from either AOPA or NavCanada, is copyrighted, has an expiration date of mid-2004, and is presented for informational purposes only.


Beaver Creek (CYXQ)

Burwash (CYDB)

Calgary (CYYC)

Edmonton City Centre (CYXD)

Eureka/Skelton (PAZK)

Fort Nelson (CYYE)

Fort St. John  (CYXJ)

Gulkana (PAGK)

Haines Junction (CYHT)

Northway (PAOR)

Palmer (PAAQ)

Peace River (CYPE)

Sheep Mountain (PASP)

Tok Junction (6K8)

Valdez (PAVD)

Watson Lake (CYQH)

Whitehorse (CYXY)