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Route Five: Alaska Highway Route from Whitehorse to Anchorage: 532 nm Non-stop
· When VFR conditions prevail, consider flying visually along the Alaska Highway (rather than IFR) from Whitehorse to Anchorage. The distance is 532 nm, which is only a few miles longer than the IFR route. It affords a birds’ eye view of some of the magnificent valleys, mountain ranges and glaciers that characterize this region. On the first leg of the route (Whitehorse, Yukon to Northway, Alaska), the St. Elias Mountains (18,000 feet) will be visible to the south and the Ruby Mountains will be visible to the north. The second leg of the route (Northway to Anchorage) passes through the Alaska Range, the Copper River Basin, and then the Chugach Mountains into the Anchorage Bowl. Depending on your comfort level, the height of the valley floor at a given point and the weather, you can fly at 2,500 or 4,500 feet for this entire route, or you can go higher and be near or above the tops of the mountains (generally at 6,500 or 8,500 feet) for the entire route.
· The first leg is 254 nm and goes from Whitehorse (CYXY) to Haines Junction (CYHT) to Beaver Creek (CYXQ) to Northway, Alaska (PAOR). Simply follow the Alaska Highway depicted on the Canadian sectional chart for Whitehorse (for some reason the Canadians ran out of blue diamonds at this point): depart Whitehorse (CYXY) at a heading of 246 degrees and follow the Alaska Highway until Haines Junction (CYHT), first along the wide valley of the Takhini River, then parallel the Dezadeash 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 (part of the Wrangell/Mt. St. Elias National Park). If weather and time permit, it is worth considering a diversion to fly over any portion of these forbidding and breathtaking sights. From Haines Junction (CYHT), follow the highway at a heading of 289 degrees, first along the valley to Kluane Lake (which is the largest in the Yukon and is notorious for high winds, so check the weather first), past Burwash NDB (DB), and then through the wide Shakwak Trench to Beaver Creek (CYXQ). From there follow the highway at a heading of 290 degrees across the broad wetlands of the Chisana and Tanana Rivers. The Yukon/Alaska border is ten miles past Beaver Creek. By following the highway during this segment, a pilot will end up at Northway Junction, so remember to turn left to reach Northway airport (PAOR), or just fly this last segment GPS direct from Beaver Creek. Northway has a 3,300 foot gravel runway, with fuel, food and US customs. The runway was once 5,100 feet long and paved, until a recent earthquake shortened it and left it in a decrepit state.
· If flying this first leg VFR, use the Canadian Whitehorse or Alaska Highway sectional chart (inasmuch as the NACO Whitehorse sectional chart does not show the highway with the same degree of clarity).
Anchorage Lake Hood float plane facility (PALH)
Anchorage Merrill Field (PAMR
Beaver Creek (CYXQ)
Sheep Mountain (PASP)
Tok Junction (6K8)