Guidebook: On the Roadhouses

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Getting there: From LAX, connecting service (change of planes) is available on Alaska. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $552.20.

Where to stay: In Fairbanks, a comfortable jumping-off point is the 7 Gables Inn & Suites, 4312 Birch Lane; (907) 479-0751, fax (907) 479-2229, http://www.7gablesinn.com. Big, quiet, modern and immaculate. Breakfasts included. Doubles begin at $90 from May 21 to Sept. 1, the high season.

Individual log cabins on the Gulkana River can be had at Paxson Alpine Tours and Cabins, Milepost 185.6 Richardson Highway, Paxson; (907) 822-5972, http://www.alaskan.com/paxsontours. Doubles, $120.

Gakona Lodge and Trading Post, Milepost 2 on the Tok Cutoff just off the Richardson Highway in Gakona; (907) 822-3482. The lodge has eight small but clean and cheerily restored original rooms--with two bathrooms down the hall--starting at $90, double.

In the tiny Athabascan town of Copper Center, the restored, 1932 two-story log Copper Center Lodge, (907) 822-3948, (907) 822-3948, often described as the "jewel" of the remaining Alaskan roadhouses, is experiencing a change of ownership. It was reopened year-round on June 15, including the restaurant. Restaurant serves mainly American food 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; $7 for breakfast, $15 for dinner. Twenty rooms with private, shared or down-the-hall bathrooms, doubles starting at $99.

Where to eat: In Fairbanks, a diner near the university, Sam's Sourdough Cafe, 3702 Cameron St., (907) 479-0523, is justifiably admired for its breakfast--particularly the wonderfully tangy sourdough flapjacks.

The Chowder House, 206 Eagle Ave., (907) 452-2882, a casual latte-and-sandwich emporium served an interesting halibut corn chowder, though I later heard that the locals prefer the New England clam chowder.

What to see: Rika's Roadhouse & Landing, Milepost 275 Richardson Highway, (907) 895-4201, http://www.rikas.com. Free museum, shopping and park buildings open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily May 15 to Sept. 15. Tours every two hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sullivan Roadhouse, in the center of Delta Junction. Now a tidy, free museum of artifacts from the early years, run by the Delta Chamber of Commerce; (907) 895-5068 or (907) 895-4415. Open Memorial Day to mid-September, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Black Rapids Roadhouse, 40 miles south of Delta Junction on the Richardson Highway (Alaska state route 4, Milepost 227.4), (907) 455-6158. For more information: Delta Junction Visitors Information Center, P.O. Box 987, Delta Junction, AK 99737; (907) 895-5063, fax (907) 895-5141.

Alaska Travel Industry Assn., Visitor Information Center, Dept. 3126, P.O. Box 196710, Anchorage, AK 99519-6710; (907) 929-2200 or (800) 862-5275, fax (907) 561-5727, http://www.travelalaska.com.

Michael Parrish

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