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Alaska 2016


Al F

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It is almost 2016, time for everyone to start serious planning for your 2016 travels to Alaska!!

 

If you have comment or questions about traveling to Alaska in 2016 please post them here to have a central place for 2016 info.

 

In past years there usually has been an Alaska 20xx Topic started for everyone to ask questions and to post their travel plans and as they travel to Alaska to post significant events as they occur.

 

Here are the last two years topics:

Alaska 2015

Alaska 2014

 

I guess the Alaska 2013 & Alaska 2012 topics have rolled off the forum archives. I believe there have been topics like this dating back to about 2009.

 

This year the HDT (Heavy Duty Truck) community created an Alaska 2016 topic aimed specifically toward people with large vehicles.

 

For those looking for more info and to read about the experiences of others who have traveled in their RV’s to Alaska I have included a number of links to their blogs below.

 

The links below usually go to the start of their trip, as they cross into Canada. To continue reading the blog, somewhere in the blog there will be a link to newer posts. Click on that link to follow their journey.

 

The first 4 links are general interest blogs to get you started on reading about travels to Alaska.

CoolRVers On the Road: Border Crossing to Cache Creek

Tiltons Travels: Canadian Border Crossing

Crossing into Canada - May 21, 2009 - Sumas, Washington, United States

Gypsy and the Mariner's RV Adventures: Entry into Canada

 

These next links cover the travels of three couples who primarily dry camped or boondocked. These are a must read if you are interested in staying at scenic camping spots rather than in RV Parks.

Ron & Elena N

DIVERSITY Start of AK Trip

Scratching the Itch N

 

For anyone interested in taking their RV on the Haul Road (Dalton Hwy) to Prodhoe Bay this blog is a must read:

Prodhoe Bay Side Trip Ron & Elena

For more info about Dalton highway go Here and Here

 

For another adventure here is a blog about going up the Dempster Hwy from Dawson, YT to Inuvik, NWT

Diversity--Dempster Hwy to Inuvik NWT

For more info about the Dempster Hwy to Here , Here and Here

 

Lots of great wildlife and scenic view pictures in this blog.

 

Several more general interest blogs. Lots of good info here.

Myths Versus Reality – Driving Your RV to Alaska | The Snowmads

On Our Way to Alaska, At Last! - May 31, 2012 - Hope, British Columbia, Canada

Alaska Bound 2009

Wright's TrailsEnd: Start of AK Trip

Doing It On The Road(Part II): Crossing the Border, Red Deer

BirdingRVers: Oh Canada!

 

I know there are a lot more blogs out there. In fact I have bookmarked 30 to 40 over the last 6-7 years. If you know of a good Alaska travel blog, please post a link to it in this topic.

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Boondocking on "Top of the World Highway" from Dawson, YT to Chicken, AK.

 

I don't remember reading a blog where someone actually spent a couple of nights boondocking along the "Top of the World Highway". Almost everyone seems to rush across the 90-100 miles of the this mostly gravel road. The views are reported to be fantastic. I have often wonder why noone stops for a night or two to enjoy the view.

 

Here is a blog of someone who spent several days boondocking along the Top of the World Highway. Lots of great scenic photos and fantastic wildlife photos. The link goes to the start of his travels on TOTW hwy, at the bottom of the website page is a link to the next entry.

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We were some of the folks who drove the TOW in 2012. If there were beautiful views they eluded us (at least me). When we got to Chicken, we both commented that the views didn't make the trip worth it. Trying to maneuver that road with steep drops and soft shoulders along with oncoming tour buses didn't provide a lot of enjoyment either. We'll drive it again this summer, but it will be in the Jeep, not the coach. Dawson City, on the other hand, is worth the trip. So is Keno City.

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We were some of the folks who drove the TOW in 2012. If there were beautiful views they eluded us (at least me). When we got to Chicken, we both commented that the views didn't make the trip worth it. Trying to maneuver that road with steep drops and soft shoulders along with oncoming tour buses didn't provide a lot of enjoyment either. We'll drive it again this summer, but it will be in the Jeep, not the coach. Dawson City, on the other hand, is worth the trip. So is Keno City.

Yep, I have read a LOT of negative comments from RV'ers who have driven the TOW hwy. The negatives seem to far out way the positives. However the positives do talk about the very nice views.

 

The pictures of the views from the blog I posted above, sure look great to me. But then he did have good weather and stayed for several days along the TOW highway.

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Making the trip next summer. First was in 2001. Fairly short trip as it was during the summer school vacation. This time we are leaving south Texas mid April and anticipate Denali NP first week of June. We will be returning via Bremerton, WA for a submarine crew reunion in mid September. Then back to south Texas by mid October. Valdez for 4th of July. Tanana Valley Fair first part of August. Then starting the drive south via the Cassair.

I know its a little early to start north but I'm sure the traffic will catch up with us.

Using the Milepost, Church's Alaska and Northwest camping guides, Days End and Elks Lodge Guides as references for camping spots.

 

Bill

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Bill, I hope you're not making reservations this early. Since you have the whole summer I'd highly recommend you play it by ear for the most part. You could possibly be delayed because of fires and road problems. It seems to happen every year. The only reservations we made for the whole summer were for the July 4 weekend and for 5 nights in Denali's farthest campground you can take an RV - Teklanika. For those two we only made our reservations three weeks prior when we could better judge when we'd be there.

 

For Denali we were in the area a little earlier than our reservations so on a whim we boondocked nearby at a lovely place and drove into Denali early morning when folks were leaving. We easily secured another 5 nights for our 40' motorhome in Denali's front campground - Riley Creek. Our 10 days in the park were full - lots to do in both areas. Plus, we saw 'THE' mountain 7 of 10 days and every big animal that lives in the park over and over again.

 

Along with Mike & Terri Church's book 'Alaskan Camping' which includes Canada and the Yukon, definitely get the Milepost for history and maps. The other thing you need to purchase online before your trip is the 'TourSaver' 2/1 coupon book. One glacier cruise will pay for the book and you'll want to do at least one. It's worthwhile.

 

We didn't make any special preparations to our motorhome or Jeep except for new tires in Oregon (no sales tax). We didn't have any mechanical issues or damage to either. Just plan on driving slow in construction areas especially when you see an oncoming vehicle. Quite often we pulled over to the side as far as we could and just stopped to let them pass. Have fun planning the trip!

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2gypsies,

 

No reservations made. Notified friends along the way to expect us when show up. We try to let them know about when to expect us.

Denali - I was thinking maybe a week to ten days ahead for reservations for Teklanika as our tentative plan has us there about first week of June. Resaervations probably for Fairbanks as we want to see the Fair, first part of August. Other than that strictly as the road takes us. Have the 2015 Milepost. Will indulge in the 2016 Milepost when published.

All good thoughts. Thanks

Bill

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Bill, Your plan sound good. Teklanika in June will be early for most travelers so you should be good. Be sure to purchase the TEK bus pass at the Visitor Center before you get to the campground. From the campground you can ride the bus as often as you want during your stay with the pass. Sometimes we'd go out just in the morning, sometimes around 4pm and once all day - to Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake is o.k. and it's a very long day but we actually saw more animals way before getting there. We also got off the bus and just walked along the road for a while and then caught the next bus coming by. The silence is awesome when you're out there by yourself.

 

Also, you really don't need the 2016 Milepost if you have the 2015. They change very little year to year. You'll mainly use it for history and the maps and they won't change - just the advertising. :)

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I agree Teklanika fills up early and it is a good idea to book as early as possible. However I have read in 2-3 blogs over the last few years people have had good luck getting a spot by looking for an open site 2-3 weeks before arriving. Of course that is based on being willing to take whichever dates are open some 2-4 weeks in the future.

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Milepost guide information is a year old when the current issue is published. This is because their "scouts" drive the road each summer and visit shops, eateries, filling stations, etc. That information is correlated and published in the next edition.

We bought the 2012 edition for our 2012 trip, and found many businesses closed since publishing date.

The downturn in economy hit CA just as hard as the U.S.A., causing many(as most are) tourist-dependent businesses to close for good. If you must know for sure, phone before showing up.

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Milepost guide information is a year old when the current issue is published.

 

 

We have 1st hand knowledge of this. When we motorcycled to Alaska I had all my gas stops planned out. Well lo and behold one of the places I was going to get fuel was all boarded up, and I didn't have enough fuel to reach the next stop. Luckily I heard a chainsaw off in the distance and got two gallons of unmixed gas from a wood carver. It's a story we still talk about from time to time.

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Mariner, on 11 Jan 2016 - 06:12 AM, said:

 

 

We have 1st hand knowledge of this. When we motorcycled to Alaska I had all my gas stops planned out. Well lo and behold one of the places I was going to get fuel was all boarded up, and I didn't have enough fuel to reach the next stop.

 

We do this anyway, no matter where we're traveling, but it's even more important when traveling to Alaska: Travel on the top half of your tank. While normally there isn't much more than about 100 miles between fuel stations on the Alaska Highway, as Mariner found out, any particular one could be closed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We are returning to Alaska this summer having enjoyed an entire summer exploring the state in 2009. We had traveled with 2 other couples in "09" and did take the TOW route. We got very little to view due to low clouds and rain. I don't recall seeing many places where you could pull off and boon dock. We expect to enter BC around mid May and depart Dawson City around late June. We will leave via the Cassiar around September depending on the weather. We were one of the regular contributors to the Alaska 2009 blog in which most of us met up in Talketna for the Moose Dropping Festival. We only made reservations for the 4th of July week and when we were going to the Denali area.

 

Everyone will tell you to purchase the Mile Post, which we totally agree with, and we also found the Tour Saver coupon book to pay for itself almost immediately. I also recommend you read James A. Michener's book "Alaska". It is quite long but excellent background info before going into Alaska. The best recommendation we can make is to not be in a hurry. That's where most of the vehicle damage occurs is to those that are on a short time schedule.

 

We hope to see some of you this summer as we make the trek. We do have some opinions about where and how to cross the borders, what you can or shouldn't take, etc. Feel free to contact us if it looks like we might cross paths.

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We have 1st hand knowledge of this. When we motorcycled to Alaska I had all my gas stops planned out. Well lo and behold one of the places I was going to get fuel was all boarded up, and I didn't have enough fuel to reach the next stop. Luckily I heard a chainsaw off in the distance and got two gallons of unmixed gas from a wood carver. It's a story we still talk about from time to time.

Alaskans have an unwritten law. You always stop for someone stopped along the road, just in case they need help. Being stranded can be life-threatening there.

While our 5er was broken-down half-way to Chicken from Tok. I came upon a man towing a TT stopped along the highway to Tok. He was out of gas because where he planned to re-fuel was boarded up. I had a gallon of genset gas in the truck-bed. It was enough for him to reach Tok.

Driving off the top half of the fuel tank is prudent, regardless of where you find fuel. There were times I re-fueled while at 3/4 tank of diesel simply because it was there and so was I.

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It looks like we will need to return to Ohio for a family event in April before we head to Alaska in May. (This is assuming we go to Alaska this year.) With Ohio as a starting point, I am wondering if it would be advisable to take a route up through Minnesota to Winnipeg on route to the Alaskan Highway vs traveling west through the US? We have some stops we want to make along the way, so we would likely reach Winnipeg about June 1st.


If we did travel through Winnepeg, then would anyone advise going through Calgary, or a more northern route through Saskatoon and Edmonton? Is there anything particularly worthwhile to see east of the rockies along either route?


We want to visit Banff and Jasper NP's sometime, but I don't want to shorten our time in Alaska too much to do so. We are also planning on being in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta in early October, so we may need to head back south earlier than we want as well. Should we just plan on making the Canadian Rockies a separate trip another year? Which may make the northerly route through Edmonton the better route this year going to Alaska?


All advice welcome. Thanks!


Jim

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Consider going to Missoula and taking 93 north. It will take you to the TransCanada in Banff-Lake Louise. A bit west on the TransCanada and 93 goes north to Jasper. Go east toward Hinton, AB and then north to Grande Prairie and on to Dawson Creek and Alaska. The same route could be used going south if you wanted to do it at the end of the trip. By early June there will be enough remaining snow on the mountains (not the road) to get a better feel for the Icefields Parkway (92 to Jasper), Depending on what you try to see, it would add maybe 2 or 3 days to the trip. It may work better for your southbound trip, in which case it is almost the most direct route, but we think the scenery is better in June.

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It looks like we will need to return to Ohio for a family event in April before we head to Alaska in May. (This is assuming we go to Alaska this year.) With Ohio as a starting point, I am wondering if it would be advisable to take a route up through Minnesota to Winnipeg on route to the Alaskan Highway vs traveling west through the US? We have some stops we want to make along the way, so we would likely reach Winnipeg about June 1st.
If we did travel through Winnepeg, then would anyone advise going through Calgary, or a more northern route through Saskatoon and Edmonton? Is there anything particularly worthwhile to see east of the rockies along either route?
We want to visit Banff and Jasper NP's sometime, but I don't want to shorten our time in Alaska too much to do so. We are also planning on being in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta in early October, so we may need to head back south earlier than we want as well. Should we just plan on making the Canadian Rockies a separate trip another year? Which may make the northerly route through Edmonton the better route this year going to Alaska?
All advice welcome. Thanks!
Jim

 

It is tempting to want to see everything while you travel though or near an area, it is hard to see it "all". Banff is a days drive from the US border so it is easy to access any time you are in the Montana area so I would suggest to leave Banff & Jasper for another time. The other thought is to just drive though Banff & Jasper, only spending a day in each park. Although that is not the way I like to visit an area.

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Cathy & Jim: Keep in mind that fuel will be a lot cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada so I'd recommend staying in the states as long as you can before heading north from Ohio.

 

If you were planning to be in Canada by June 1, you will have plenty of time to take in Jasper/Banff and still do all you want in Alaska to be in New Mexico by October.

 

We crossed the border the end of May and returned to Montana by Sept 1. Three months is plenty of time to see everything and we didn't do any rushing.

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I would tend to stay on the US side of the border until being further West due to higher fuel costs in Canada. We are looking to visit Banff and Lake Louise but will catch them on the way out. We are told that there would still be a good chance of catching snow if we went there in May. You should still be able to catch Albuquerque for the balloon fiesta as the weather may drive you South out of Alaska in September.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Al Florida, thanks for this post. I posted a new topic question in "About discussion forums" asking "May we please have a "Travel to Alaska" forum under "RVing forums"?". I've noticed other clubs setting Alaska out as a structured forum, so that folk's individual topical posts are more discoverable and organized. I can't see how a topic of this magnitude could reside in a single post given the softward constraints, so we'll see I guess.

 

Anyhow, I'm in the planning stage now for an extended 2016-2017 Alaska trip. The conceptual plan is to leave Seattle in early May 2016 and return around October 2017. I plan to use Seward, AK as a home base, because I want to fish, kayak, glacier hike, hike, backpack, ice climb, whale watch, paddle board, and do some mountain biking. Kenai seems like the best place to do all that. Did I say I want to fish......lots of fishing! I'm going to rent a furnished apartment or home and stay in Seward through the winter.

 

At this point, I'm planning on going in/up the shortest route including the Cassier. Coming back; not sure. I may leave Alaska earlier so I can meander a more easterly path down through Jasper/ Calgary. I don't plan on going off the routes shown in the Milepost, at this point.

 

As a Floridian, this will be my "epic tour"!

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If you are leaving Seattle, you may find the shortest route is to cross at Sumas, stay on the freeway to Kamloops, go north to 16, east thru Jasper to 40, north to Grande Prairie, then NW to Dawson Creek, and on to Alaska. That has been our preferred route for the last 7 years, due to low traffic and good roads.

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