The Top of the World Highway, 127 km or 79 miles of unknown road conditions, roads that change from year to year, season to season and take many hours to ride. A road that many set out to conquer…
Things you will want to know about the Top of the World Highway before riding it.
- Road conditions, is there construction?
- Where does it start and stop?
- What kind of motorcycle is best to ride on it?
- Is it open all year? Is there much traffic on it?
- How fast can you travel?
Why is it called Top of the World Highway?
The obvious reason; it is one of the most northerly highways in the world at those latitudes and the other reason you will see when you ride it. You ride along crest of hills looking down towards valleys, making you feel on top of the world, just spectacular!
Road Conditions and Construction
This is the toughest thing to find out about Top of the World of Highway, so many factors come into play. Depending on the winter, the weather, the amount of traffic, if construction is budgeted for the coming year will dictate the road conditions.
We talked to several other riders who have rode it previous years and they told us …
- They are not in great shape in places
- Do NOT ride it if it is raining or has rained
- Take your time and watch out for RV’s
- When you can pull over and take a break, it can be hard on your body
What we found out is that it for the most part..
- it was better than we thought, at least half of it was OK
- lots of washboards, ruts and spots we had to dodge around
- fastest we went about was about 60km/hr(35 mph)
- the construction section was toughest to ride through, soft loose clay/dirt
It was a warm sun shiny day, Thank Goodness, as it took us close to 5 hours from starting point at Dawson City Yukon to Tok Alaska. So to answer your question, yes you will need to have some experience riding on gravel, yes you will need patience, yes you will need a sense of adventure and not afraid to get dusty! But the rewards of riding this amazing road will allow you a memory that will never leave your soul. That is biking!
Where does it start and stop?
The starting point, from the east, is at Dawson City Yukon, where you take a short ferry across the Yukon River. The ferry is open 24 hours a day during summer and closed in winter. The first 10 KMS were some sort of pavement, shocked and thought GEEZ everyone must be so wrong about the roads… the mindset was short lived as the good pavement turned to gravel. The Top of the World Highway ends at the Junction of Taylor Highway which is near Tok Alaska.
The good news is there is only 10kms(6 miles) of gravel once you leave Chicken Alaska heading west and the pavement from this point, to the junction is good, use caution as there are frost heaves, patched pavement and usual wear and tear of a highway. Not so good news if you are heading east… as there is lots of fun gravel ahead.
Can any type of motorcycle ride Top of the World Highway?
It would be fair to say of course any motorcycle can ride the Top of the World Highway, there are some bikes that would make the ride more enjoyable and safe if it was a rainy day. There are more adventure touring motorcycles on this road than V-Twin cruisers, yet our 4 V-Twins managed perfectly, no issues at all. It would likely be more comfortable riding an adventurer bike as you can stand up and take some of the shock in your legs.
Is this a Seasonal Highway? What is the traffic like?
The road is open for summer months only, as is the US/Canadian Border crossing (Poker Creek) from 8-8 (Alaska Time). There is quite a bit of traffic during the summer, a lot of RV’s, vehicles, motorcycles and many local ATV’s ripping up and down the road. The reality TV show Yukon Gold is still being filmed so lots of “crew” using the roads as well.
Click the button below for more info about Alaska. We know you are somewhat interested that about 5 percent of Alaska is covered by glaciers, but we cover more motorcycle friendly tidbits here.
Alaska: What You Need to Know