Can You Drive To Juneau, Alaska?  

can you drive to juneau alaska

Nestled at the heart of the Inside Passage on the Gastineau Channel, Juneau serves as Alaska’s picturesque state capital. Unlike other state capitals within the United States mainland that enjoy expansive road access, Juneau offers a uniquely detached experience. This south-central Alaskan panhandle cannot be directly reached by road. So can you drive to Juneau, Alaska?

Where is Juneau Located in Alaska?

Juneau sits on the mainland of Alaska itself, on the North American continent. However, its positioning within the Alaska Panhandle places it far away from the state’s main road networks. The closest stretch of roadway lies almost 800 miles to the northeast.

Several aspects explain Juneau’s isolated accessibility. It faces the water rather than recognized state land borders. The area also contends with inhospitable terrain not conducive to ground transport routes. Features like steep coastal mountain passes, deep fjords, rivers, and icy glaciers surround its location. This geography makes building direct roads cost-prohibitive.

can you drive to juneau alaska

The inaccessibility highlights Juneau as the remotest state capital in the U.S., yet a launchpad to immense wilderness adventures. It also means you cannot just hop in your car and drive to Juneau freely like other cities.

Can You Drive to Juneau, Alaska?

Majority of visitors cannot drive directly to Juneau, Alaska. Currently, no roads lead either to or from Juneau allowing vehicle access. The only way to reach Juneau by car would be via a ferry system or barge. These water vessels can ship automobiles as cargo. But roads simply dead-end with nowhere forward.

So Juneau itself remains completely isolated with no highways extending out. To travel to Juneau, you require complex logistics of reaching suitable docks by road first. Then transferring cars and passengers onto boats sailing to Alaska’s gorgeous capital.

How to Drive to Juneau, Alaska from Mainland USA

While not fully drivable continuously, it is possible to embark on an epic road trip to eventually wind up in Juneau behind your wheel. This route entails crossing half the width of Canada first.

can you drive to juneau alaska

Here is how it works:

From a suitable U.S. starting point like Seattle, head north entering Canada at a border crossing like British Columbia. Drive on available highways as far as Haines Junction within Yukon Territory. Then cut west reaching Haines, Alaska. Haines has ferry access where you load your vehicle for ocean transit to Juneau.

In total, expect this voyage to clock over 2,000 miles before disembarking in Juneau itself. Driving will account for around 1,700 miles combined with a picturesque ocean-faring stretch to conclude. For convenience and comfort, take a ferry from Bellingham to Juneau. 

So technically, yes – you can find a way to drive yourself right into Juneau. It just takes prior planning, international travel clearance documents, and settling into serious road trip mode for this once-in-a-lifetime trek.

How Do I Get My Car to Juneau?

For visitors starting from other Alaskan entry points, options also exist to eventually transport your car to scenic Juneau. While cumbersome, it comes down to advanced logistics using a special combination of ferries and highways.

can you drive to juneau alaska

For instance, driving from Anchorage via Tok Cut Off and entering the mainland U.S. briefly through Hyder, Canada delivers you to a ferry terminal in Prince Rupert. From Prince Rupert, you sail to Ketchikan before catching a final ferry reaching Juneau by water with your vehicle in tow.

Alternatively, the Alaska Marine Highway runs reliable vehicle transport ships directly from Bellingham, Washington up along the coastline. This includes calling right into Juneau. You just drive your car onto designated vehicle levels before disembarking.

Several resources, including Alaska’s official ferry line at, detail how to coordinate traveling between Southeast Alaska ports while bringing your car. Permits, fees, and reservations apply to all vehicle passengers and owners.

How Long Does it Take to Drive to Juneau, Alaska?

How long it takes to drive to Juneau depends on your starting point within the U.S. or Canada. As Juneau lacks direct road access, tack on substantial buffer time for portions involving ferries or barges transporting your vehicle.

can you drive to juneau alaska

Originating from Seattle, budget 10 full days of solid driving and rest stops. This factors in the U.S. or Canadian border crossing plus traversing the Yukon until catching the final ferry leg into Alaska’s capital. Adding extra padding means not rushing delicate northern roadways where weather or mechanics might hamper tight schedules.

In comparison, driving from Anchorage to Juneau taking the “Top of the World Highway‟ into Canada can take around one week. Visitors continuing north from Vancouver can foresee reaching Juneau in 5-6 days.

Confirm specifics using mileage charts and ferry crossing durations when plotting your unique trip timeline. Expect driving days of 8+ hours not including overnight breaks or potential road delays.

Which Ferry Port Should You Arrive at in Juneau, Alaska?

Juneau welcomes ferry arrivals at two discrete docks along the vast Gastineau Channel fronting the city and neighboring Douglas Island.

can you drive to juneau alaska

The primary marine port lies just southwest of the capital’s core downtown area. The Intermediate Vessel Float, managed by the City and Borough of Juneau, services boats like small cruise ships and private yachts. This locale places vehicles within a quick 15-20 minute drive into Juneau’s urban capital hub once disembarked.

Four miles farther south, the second option is Juneaus Ferry Terminal which handles vessels operated by the Alaska Marine Highway System. This strip along Aurora Harbor directly transports cars as freight cargo onboard. Familiar ferry lines docking include routes from Bellingham, Prince Rupert, Haines, and Skagway.

Passengers driving towards Juneau long-haul should identify which port their booked ferry utilizes when wrapping up reservations. The Auke Bay Ferry Terminal concentrates infrastructure for vehicles, while the Intermediate stop sits closer to the city center, downtown hotels, and tourist attractions.

Things You Need to Know About Driving to Juneau, Alaska

Attempting an epic driving voyage into relatively isolated Juneau comes loaded with considerations beyond simply pointing your car north.

can you drive to juneau alaska

Fundamental realities confronting road-trippers who want to get to Juneau include:

  • International Border Crossing: Reaching Juneau by road first involves entering and later exiting Canada (bring passports!).
  • Ferry Logistics: Secure vehicle reservations aboard Alaska Marine Highway System ferries sailing into Juneau well beforehand during peak season.
  • Limited Roadways: Juneau lacks highway access so moderate driving expectations once arrived. Focus more on outdoor escapades.
  • Climate Extremes: Prepare for remote conditions like ice, snow, sleet, or landslides impacting driving plus freezing ocean stints.

Yet the rewards offset the obstacles of driving oneself right into Juneau. Exploring axe-throwing venues, walking along alpine trails, and listening to glaciers crackle rewards motivated road warriors going to great lengths traversing half a continent just to motor Alaska’s singular capital.

Things to see once you reach Juneau, State of Alaska

Fully appreciating Juneau’s diverse urban attractions and sprawling wilderness beyond requires days if not weeks. Top sights and activities to immerse in across town and surrounding Tongass National Forest include:

Natural Wonders

  • Perseverance Trail: Trek along this hearty, 3.4-mile trail netting prime views overlooking impressive Gold Creek Valley aided by vantage points through mature trees.
  • Mendenhall Glacier: Alaska’s famous drive-up glacier flows from majestic Mount McGinnis, offering breathtaking natural beauty and diverse wildlife just minutes from downtown.
can you drive to juneau alaska

Historic Gems

  • Alaska State Museum: Get insight into the state’s past spanning early explorers up through Alaska’s 1959 induction into the union at this top-rated destination.
  • Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway: Ride a cable car high up for panoramic vistas over Juneau, Admiralty Island, and Lynn Canal from its lofty 1,800-foot summit perch.

Tasty Treats

  • Alaskan Brewing Company: Tour America’s northernmost major brewery crafting beers like Amber, Pale, and Alaskan Stout alongside other limited small-batch beverages for sampling.

Alaskan Fun

  • Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure: Ramble along wildlife-rich rainforest trails before grabbing a memorable meal with a view at the Glacier Gardens restaurant.
  • Humpback Whale Watching: Embark on boats venturing into nearby inlet fjords seeking spectacular sights of bubble net feeding groups or tail breaching of the planet’s most wondrous mammals.

Best Time to Visit Juneau Alaska

can you drive to juneau alaska

Peak visitor season aligned with warmer weather runs from May through September, with July-August the warmest. However, rainy weather still frequents this northerly Inside Passage capital even in mid-summer. Plus prices and crowds swell accordingly.

For clearer skies, fewer ships docked yet before the bitterest cold arrives, target late spring (May/June) or early Fall (September). Light jackets and layers still prove indispensable when exploring Juneau’s Carvers Wharf downtown, the immense Mendenhall Glacier, or mountains like Mount Roberts. Locals live by the adage that if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.

Visiting America’s most remote state capital and accessing unbelievable wilderness scenery becomes the trip of a lifetime. Just be sure to gas up wherever possible before returning stateside!

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