The Milepost

We made it to Alaska. The Alaska trekker has a bible called The Milepost. It is a guidebook that outlines mile-by-mile the routes through and around the most northern reaches of North America. Some things to note about The Milepost:

It is not always accurate. We stumbled into a small bush airport where The Milepost said there would be an interpretive center about the planes and their research. The guy in the mess hall laughed and said, “You have The Milepost. We’ve been trying to get that out of there for years.” If it is unclear what the airport/station researched, sorry. We don’t know either. The guy told us we could walk down to the beach and back, but then we needed to move on. 

Businesses pay to play. The Milepost makes no bones about this one. While they document the businesses you’ll come across, they also give extra column space and ad space in the book to businesses that pay. The problem is when businesses (especially in towns) are omitted. For example, the best RV park we’ve come across since Texas is located in Tok. The name of the park is Alaskan Stoves RV Park. Each site has its own grill, hence the name. It was super low-key, friendly, and extremely reasonable on cost. Can’t say that for the mega-led RV park just down the road that charged double to sit in a parking lot with trees. Alaskan Stoves has been around for a few years, but it gets no love from the Milepost. 

Towns. This is more a commentary on Alaska: Towns are not towns as anyone from the lower 48 might think of them. Many of them are an RV park/gas station/library/liquor store/police department. Run by the same person (who might also happen to be mayor). As for The Milepost, the town maps (as they note) are not drawn to scale. At all. Like not even close. One small town we went into was so wildly wrong, the map confused us more than simply driving around. 

You’ll still need it. Despite the book’s few shortcomings, it is a must-have for the Alaskan road traveler as it contains 90% of what you need to know from road conditions to animal warnings. (True stories: One entry said the pull-off where we camped had a wolf pack in the area. Around midnight wolves howled back and forth across the lake, right on cue. The next day, as we drove, we saw a porcupine trundling along the road. The next road sign? Porcupine Creek.) As always, talk with the locals, check in at the travel centers for latest road conditions, and take your time. 

One thought on “The Milepost

  1. The only copy of The Milepost I ever bought was in 1981, when I headed north to Alaska as a 19 year old knucklehead seeking adventure in the Far North. I found it- and a whole lot more. Since then, been over pretty much every mile of “roads” throughout this grand state, and haven’t needed a Milepost. Most of us have discovered that running under the radar and word of mouth suffice just fine- and add a few more friends along the way.
    Cheers Volkswageneers!

    Like

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