Alaska is a bucket list destination for many adventurers to visit. However, some travelers scrap the idea once they calculated the distance to drive to Alaska and the rumored high gas prices. If you’ve recently added Alaska to your travel calendar, it’s best to look at the current gas prices while you’re making plans to properly budget your trip.
Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about gas prices in Alaska before you set out on your adventure. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Is Gas Expensive in Alaska?
- What Is the Average Cost Of Gas in Alaska?
- Why Does Gas Cost So Much in Alaska?
- Where Does Alaska Get Its Fuel?
- How Can I Spend Less Money On Gas for My Alaska Road Trip?
- How Do I Get the Best Gas Mileage On the Highway?
- Will the Gas Prices in Alaska Go Down?
Is Gas Expensive in Alaska?
If you hope to escape expensive gas prices by heading to Alaska, you’ll be disappointed. Gas can be costly in Alaska. The state typically has an above-national-average price for gas.
And the prices rise the further you venture from the more populated regions of the state. Some remote locations can be $.50 to $1.00 more than the national average. For example, we found our most expensive fuel on our Alaska trip in Coldfoot along the Dalton Highway.
Additionally, your fuel stop options can get few and far between on some of the remote highways to the Last Frontier. So it’s not like you can strategically plan to stop at the cheapest place in town. Fuel-price apps like GasBuddy aren’t going to save you much if there is only one station available.
However, when we drove to Alaska in 2019, we found that many of the fuel prices we experienced in Canada and Alaska were actually cheaper than in California.
What Is the Average Cost Of Gas in Alaska?
Gas prices in Alaska are almost always above the national average. AAA’s database indicates that you can usually expect to pay $.30 to $.60 more per gallon in Alaska than the national average. For example, in April 2022 the national gas price sits at $4.074, but Alaska’s average is $4.665 per gallon.
However, while gas may be expensive in Alaska, diesel is often right at the national average. In April 2022 the national average was $5.012, but Alaska was $5.100. In April 2021, the national average for diesel was $3.078, and Alaska was actually slightly cheaper at $3.011.
Why Does Gas Cost So Much in Alaska?
Despite Alaska having a tremendous amount of oil, they cannot refine it. Instead, they send oil via the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, AK where most of it is shipped to the lower 48 states. There, refineries handle the refining process. The finished product is then shipped back to Alaska. These added processes increase costs, which means higher prices at the pump.
You also have to consider that Alaska has pretty intense weather. This can lead to severe delays, especially in the remote portions of the state. This often means the supply can be inconsistent and insufficient for the demand. A low or irregular supply with a constant demand is a recipe for expensive gas prices.
The fuel price only really makes a big impact if you’re driving to Alaska. We tacked on over 10,000 miles in Alaska and Canada, so fuel was a large percentage of our total Alaska trip costs.
Pro Tip: Gas prices not stopping you from exploring Alaska? If you’re ready to hit the road, read our Complete Guide to Alaska RV Rentals to make your planning process easier.
Where Does Alaska Get Its Fuel?
Alaska has three small oil refineries in the state. They’re in the cities of Kenai, North Pole, and Valdez. Alaska Oil and Gas Association’s President and CEO Kara Moriarty said, “Our in-state refiners create jet fuel, gasoline, diesel, heating fuel, kerosene, asphalt base oil, marine diesel, and ultra-low sulfur diesel. JP-8, and JP-5.”
However, Alaska relies on fuel imported from refineries in the lower 48 states. This is a critical factor in Alaska’s high gas prices.
How Can I Spend Less Money On Gas for My Alaska Road Trip?
No matter where your travel plans take you, here are a few ways you can spend less on gas on your next road trip. Let’s get started!
Use a Gas App
If you have yet to install GasBuddy on your phone, you’re likely paying more than you need to for gas. GasBuddy can use your phone’s GPS to show the prices reported by other users at fuel stations near you.
You may not know that a station around the corner is considerably cheaper. This is also extremely helpful when filling up your tank in an unfamiliar area. However, as we mentioned before, some places in Alaska are so remote that you may not have too much of a choice.
Watch Your Cargo Weight
If you want to increase your fuel economy, it’s best to lose weight. We’re talking about your vehicle’s weight, not your weight. You can slightly increase your MPGs by removing anything heavy or unnecessary from your car or RV. Lighter vehicles get better fuel economy because their engines don’t have to work as hard.
While this may not make a big difference over a weekend or a week, a multi-week or month trip covering hundreds or thousands of miles can save you some money.
Pro Tip: Pack up your RV and take it to a CAT scale for an accurate measurement of its weight, then unload any unnecessary items to reduce that number.
If you’re planning a road trip to Alaska and are wary of high gas prices, avoid packing non-essentials. They’re going to weigh you down and kill your fuel economy.
Maintain Your Tire Pressure
One of the easiest ways to spend less money on gas is to check your tire pressure. Underinflated tires can cause premature wear and tear and are awful for your fuel economy. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3% by keeping your tires at the appropriate pressure.
Pro Tip: Make checking your tire pressure on your road trip easy by using one of these Best RV Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.
How Do I Get the Best Gas Mileage On the Highway?
If you have a lead foot, you’re not going to like our answer. Obeying the speed limit helps keep you safe and increases your fuel economy.
Hard accelerations at green lights and excessive speeds can also use much more fuel. Keep your speed in check, use cruise control when appropriate, and avoid stop-and-go traffic to get the best gas mileage.
Will the Gas Prices in Alaska Go Down?
There’s no predicting the future of gas prices in Alaska. We would love it if we had a crystal ball and could tell you that gas prices will drop, but we don’t. We can tell you that from our experience, gas prices typically take much longer to go down than they do to go up in price.
If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, or any road trip soon, it’s a good idea to build a buffer into your budget. It would be better to budget too much for gas than not enough. If you find you’re not spending as much as you planned, you can buy a souvenir or a meal with the extra money.
Don’t Let Gas Prices Stop Your Trip To Alaska
Should you let gas prices stop your trip to Alaska? In our opinion, NO! Alaska is going to be a big, amazing trip, and there really is no good way to do it cheaply. Check out our Complete Guide to Planning Your Alaska Trip to put everything in perspective.
But if now isn’t the right time for you, that’s fine too. We hope you don’t give up on the dream. If you haven’t already, check out our Go North Alaska Travel Video Series to see what we mean!
Have gas prices in Alaska caused you to change your travel plans? Share your experience in the comments!
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