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Ferry to Alaska


SWharton

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We are in the beginning of thinking about taking a ferry up the inside passage to Alaska. We read an article in the Escapee Magazine that enticed us to do this next year. One question, though premature, is our residential refrigerator. Should this be empty prior to the ferry trip(6 days)? Can we run the generator? Can we plug in(I doubt this)?

 

How has anyone else handled this?

 

Ideas?

 

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You say it is a 6 day trip. Checking the Ferry Schedule a direct route from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK is 2 1/2 days.

 

However since you are going up the Inland Passage, wouldn't you want to break your trip up into stays at the ports in route? That should allow you to just turn the fridge of for the ferry ride between ports.

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We have just booked a trip from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK via the Alaska Ferry. First, your length, height, and width are important. The limit is 70 feet long - we came in at 69 feet - 65 feet nose to tail on the rig plus 4 feet of bike rack, but then we are an HDT - Volvo 670 RV Hauler modified by Gregg Shields to carry our SMART car and a DRV RSSA38 Elite Suites (38'11" by itself when uncoupled). We were slipped into the "wide" category due to the SMART length. Second, we would have gone to Whittier (that is the 6 day trip) but they were already booked up through July. We booked for Haines with a departure of May 19. There is no electricity on board the storage deck, so if you go to Whittier, yes, you should clean out the refrigerator.They will turn off your propane and seal it; you cannot even bring more than two of the portable gas bottles; those have to be declared and submitted for storage. You will NOT be able to fire up your generator. If you have pets, it is $40 per pet and you must have a health certificate that has been issued within 30 days of departure.Pets must stay in your rig; no pets allowed in passenger areas. You will be able to gain access 3 times daily for 15 minutes and you must be escorted. You can also visit your animals in port. Remember that you will have no hot water and all of your slides have to go in, so plan your pet care accordingly. Sleeping berths fill up fast - you need to book well in advance. Our passage rate to Whittier $8,485.25 - that breaks down to $454 for me, $418 for DH with senior discount (65+), $120 for three cats, $5,589 for "1 high double unit" (truck and trailer plus bike rack), and $507 for a one 2-berth for two with full facilities (that means bunk beds with toilet, sink, and shower, linens provided). Do not expect glam! If you are going to Whittier or Homer, you will pay substantially more. A lot of the price has to do with the size of your rig. You can go on-line and do a pretend booking if your length is 30 feet or less (not sure that counts a tow vehicle or toad). Good luck, and do check all the regulations relative to guns, alcohol, and any driving violations or criminal convictions, even if a zillion years ago, well in advance of booking.

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Thanks for all the info. It's great to have up to date info. We are hoping to do the trip in 2018 providing our house sells. We have normally been out 4-6 months every year but want to full-time for 2-3 years and get some of the bucket list trips completed. We went to Alaska 10 years ago but took a tour. We loved the tour but need to go back and spend some quality time up there at our pace.

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We too read the article at the end of our summer in Alaska. Author went from power pole to power pole. Highest campground price was in Tok. It was a hookup spot and a dump at $32/night. Lowest was zero $ at Fred Meyers in Soldotna, three day max. Next was Ma Ma Yeh's in Prince George, BC for about $12US/night. Homer and Seward are $15/night in the city campgrounds

 

So therefore the premise that the ferry is less expensive versus driving is, at best, unproven.

 

If you go by ferry, then use that opportunity to explore the islands as you go north. You really want to be in Alaska around or just after Memorial Day. According to historical records late week of May and first part of June emcompass the best chance of seeing the mountain, Denali,in all its glory. Met a tour bus driver out of Whitehorse, he had seen the mountain 6 times in 17 years. Skagway is a must see. It is touristy but that's the point, you are a tourist. In Fairbanks you can stay at the Walmart, 15 amp plugs (lots) are live in the summer.

 

So driving north I would suggest starting at Mile 0 in Dawson Creek. Enjoy the drive. Maybe five days to Whitehorse. From there we went to Skagway and ferry to Haines and on to Tok. Fairbanks has Pioneer Park, free. Check out the gold dome building for the Eskimo Olympics videos, Miners Museum and the Pipeline exhibits. Nenana is a barge terminal for the Aluetian Islands and the Yukon River villages with a couple of small but neat museums.

 

We spent a month plus on the Kenai Penninsula. Two weeks in Homer, a week in Seward, a week in Kenai and then Soldotna and Hope.

 

Side trips to Bannf and Jasper NP's, Chetwynd for the wood scuptures.

 

Do take the Top of the World Highway to Chicken and Dawson City. There is a BLM campground a a couple of miles west of the road to Eagle. Trip to Eagle best done in a toad or truck, it is worth the trip to the Yukon River and Eagle cliff.

 

Our average nightly fee was less than $20 night. Not as good as Al Florida data but pretty good.

 

Bill

 

 

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We thought our summer spent in Alaska was very reasonable, excluding fuel. We stayed in public parks or boondocked the whole trip. As far as seeing 'THE' mountain in Denali, we spent 10 nights in the park - 5 nights in Teklanika campground and 5 nights in Riley Creek. We saw the mountain 7 of 10 days - mid August - gorgeous weather.

 

The only reservations we made were for the July 4 weekend - Alaskans like to camp, too, and the 5 nights in Teklanika campground in Denali. For those we just made reservations a couple weeks prior as we were traveling so we could better judge when we'd be in those areas. As it turned out, we were early for Teklanika and on a whim we boondocked near Denali and pulled into the park early morning. We easily secured an additional 5 nights in the front campground, Riley Creek.

 

We went up via the Alaskan Highway and returned by way of the Cassier.

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When we took our tour we did a lot of things that have been mentioned and actually saw Denali(didn't realize at the time mtn. was normally clouded in). This is going to be our last hurrah trip to Alaska and just want to experience the inside passage. Not sure if we will do it or not, may be better to take a small ship up the inside passage and back. We need to cover all bases and then make a decision. I have started a spread sheet with the $$ amounts though that is not going to be the defining factor.

 

Keep the info coming.

 

Thanks.

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Don't forget the Ferry stops along the way. In 2013 we returned south via the ferry system. On our 10 days off and on the ferries, our stops exploring Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau, I found more interesting than "the mountain" that all go to see. By the time we had traversed Icefields Parkway in the Rockies and the Alaska Highway, to me the terrain and wildlife basically looked the same. Our longest ferry leg was 23 hours from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert where we picked up Highway16 headed east to Indiana. Now after the trip, if we go again we would also stop at Wrangel and St Petersburg on the Marine Highway System for a few days each. Our trip was over 15,000 miles and 79 days from start to finish. Also we highly recommend "The Milepost" and Mike and Terri Church's "Traveler's Guide to Alaska Camping" as great tools in planning your trip. We boarded The Marine Marine Highway at Skagway, got off at Haines (saved a couple hundred miles driving and it took only about an hour on the ferry), Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, for a few days each, before ending up at Prince Rupert. The only reservations we had for the trip were for the Ferries which my wife made in February before we left Indiana on May 20th.

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OK. Time to get a map and highlight all the towns, order a Milepost, etc and get a better feel for the roads etc. We may stop and get off the ferry on our way up, seems to be the "thing" to do since we don't want any deadlines during our wandering.

 

Keep the info coming.

 

Thanks.

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According to historical records late week of May and first part of June emcompass the best chance of seeing the mountain, Denali,in all its glory. Met a tour bus driver out of Whitehorse, he had seen the mountain 6 times in 17 years.

 

I guess we must have lucked out. Went in 1998 and again in 2001 and saw Denali both times. I don't remember exactly when we were there, but it was well after the first part of June.

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A must have for an Alaska trip is a copy of the Days End listing available to Escapees members. Days End has an extensive list of free or low cost places to dry camp or boondock. Most with excellent directions to the location.

 

Also if you don't have experience with staying in your RV w/o hookups for a few days, then I strongly suggest you practice before leaving for Alaska. There are many, many beautiful, scenic and quiet places to boondock or dry camp in BC & YT, Canada & Alaska. Much nicer than being crammed in an RV Park.

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We are just starting to boondock. Been to a Welcome Center and a Fairground, no problems at all. We subscribe to Daysend and also use freecampsites.net.

 

Boondocking is so easy in a MH(we moved from 40+ years in a trlr to a MH last year). We just pull in and push buttons. Looking forward to a lot more boondocking.

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About going up on the ferry and stopping along the way. You should not need to make reservations in advance, except for your first leg of the trip. Once you arrive at your first, few to several day stop, check on reservations several days in advance. As long as you stay flexible, you should be able get an open slot without a problem. By doing this it gives you tremendous flexibility to wait out rainy weather for 2-3 days to see what you want to see without leaving early or being forced to going sightseeing in the rain.

 

Always remember, this is not a vacation. You have your home with you. So you can travel when you want to rather than being on a schedule.

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I know this will fly against what a lot of people say, but consider heading north the last couple of days of April or the first couple day of May.

 

I have read blogs of others going up early (none on the ferry though) and they have not had serious issues. Keep in mind you must be flexibly and be able to not travel if you have bad weather. Just another reason to try to not make reservations or not make reservations very far in advance. This is where boondocking and dry camping really comes in handy.

 

In 2016 we crossed into BC at the Sumas, WA on April 27th and had chilly but good weather all the way up.

 

Others leaving in early/mid June 2016 hit washed out roads in the Chetwynd/Dawson Creek area. About May 28th another RV'er got stuck in a snow storm a hundred or so miles south of Laird Hot Springs in early June. They had to get the road crews to tow them to a safe place to park until the roads cleared. I noted the details about these two occurrences in my blog entry here. Scroll down to near the bottom for the details.

 

Around 2010-2012 there were heavy rains going up the Alaska Hwy which stranded folks for several days in late May or into June. I forget the exact dates.

 

Weather is weather, it happens no matter when you go. If you can travel without making a lot of reservations you can have the freedom to move when you want.

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Consider taking a small ship cruise out of Juneau. We did this in 1999 and loved the experience. With the small ship you usually have from 50-100 passengers. You get up close to glaciers caving. You get to do some kayaking, sometimes near some small ice burgs and some hiking in the rain forests. Also lots of seals and whales up close. You will have to leave your RV parked somewhere for a week.

 

Here is a link to one company offering small ship cruises. I know nothing about this company, so do your own research.

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  • 1 month later...
4 hours ago, SWharton said:

Is taking the ferry from Bellingham worth it? I read someplace that you should drive to Prince Rupert and then get on the ferry. Saves a lot of $$$ and you really don't miss much in scenery.

 

Comments please...........

Calculate the fuel, RV parks & food along the way for the 900 miles from Bellingham to Prince Rupert to see how much you save.  On the other hand taking a week or more for the drive with stops along the way to take in the scenery & history would be a plus. 

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5 hours ago, SWharton said:

Is taking the ferry from Bellingham worth it? I read someplace that you should drive to Prince Rupert and then get on the ferry. Saves a lot of $$$ and you really don't miss much in scenery.

I don't know about saving $$, but, I agree. The ferry from Bellingham... 75% of the way is fairly unspectacular while the inland scenery is incredible. If time isn't an issue I would make the drive and hope the ferry in PR. If your time in Alaska is limited then I would just take the ferry up from WA and use that time to rest up.

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I just did a very rough cut of price differential to Juneau from Bellingham and from Prince Rupert. Bel. to J=6037  PR to J=2136

Our time is not limited and I sure could use the $4000 for a lot of other things.

Done with that decision.........................

Thanks everyone................

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