Alaska highway info needed - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-06-2010, 02:42 PM   #1
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Greetings, I'm doing some planning for a trip from California to Alaska some time in the future. Specifically, I am considering a route that goes from Dawson YT to Tok AK which entails driving through Yukon route 9 and Taylor Highway (Alaska route 5). I understand part of the Taylor highway is gravel. My question is, do I need to be concerned about traveling with a trailer on the gravel parts of the highway? Mainly thinking about risk of trailer damage due to the gravel, flats, etc... Also, if anyone knew the number of gravel road miles and how long it took to drive it, I'd appreciate it... thanks!
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:34 PM   #2
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Thomas,

I pulled a Bigfoot trailer to Alaska in 2004. I can't speak to the specific routes you are talking about but you will encounter lots of gravel on the "paved" roads because of frost damage and the repairs that go on all summer. Alaska is not something you can do on a tight schedule. Being impatient will make you miserable. Get in the mode of enjoying the trip because the driving is part of the experience. You can not count on making time like you can in the lower 48 because of road conditions. There are numerous stops for road crews repairing the highway and literally hundreds of places where you will have slow down to 15 or 20 mph. It is several thousand miles. It would be a very long trip even on a 70 mph super highway.

You need to protect the front of your trailer from gravel thrown up by your tow vehicle. Mud flaps or splash guards will help but they are not enough. You need some sort of protection on the lower front corners and edges of your trailer where the bulk of the road debris picked up by the rear tires of the tow vehicle strike the trailer. I went to Lowe's and got some vinyl flooring, cut it to fit, and used Velcro tape to attach it to my trailer. It looked a little tacky but it worked perfectly. I had no damage at all.

I only had one flat on my trip and that was due to a nail picked up in the Anchorage area. Forget about road service in the remote areas. Have a spare for your trailer and your tow vehicle and the tools and ability to change them yourself. Pepboys sells a portable 12 volt air compressor called the MV50 that works by attaching leads directly to your battery posts. Tire plug kits are cheap and fairly easy to use.

An Alaska trip is an incredible experience.

Bruce
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:11 PM   #3
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Thomas,

I went to Alaska summer of 2006. I don't have a map handy and can't remember the road names or numbers, but here's what I found from Dawson Creek, BC to Tok, AK.

The highway was great and a wide two lane highway for hundreds of miles. Somewhere below the Yukon in Bristish Columbia, I believe, the road narrowed but was fine. (I wish our rural roads here in CA were as good) Sure there were frost heaves here and there but they are all flagged so you can see them as you approach.

The section of road that was the worst was above Haines Juncion from the south end of Kulane Lake to the Alaska border. I'm guessing maybe a hundred miles or more. To many it appeared as though they were working on the road. What I saw was just sweepers, rollers and water trucks. It didn't appear to me that they intended on ever paving that stretch of roadway. It's a pretty cold area in the winter and leaving packed gavel and roadbase makes sense to me as compared to continual road repair with asphalt.

As far as protection for the trailer, I ordered that clear cover they put on new cars for shipping. The first piece I was attempting to put on barely touched it's self and that was it, ruined. It was easy to install, just don't let it touch it's self. I made the mistake of starting at the belly band and going down. I needed one more piece to cover the very bottom 1 1/2 inch. I didn't have time to get more and sure enough my trailer has some road rash in the area that was not protected. Oh, I forgot to mention I went around the curve of the trailer just even with the running lights and that was fine. I also had mud flaps on the Jeep, they really didn' help much.

You said Dawson to Tok. If you are speaking of The Top of the World highway through Dawson City and Chicken.....I didn't go that route.

I was sight seeing so my travel was slow compared to most. I travel with a dog so I stop at just about anything to see and that gives Lily a rest from traveling and a good walk. One day I only went 75 miles, just 'cause. I spent 2 nights in Whitehorse to explore the area and take a day trip down to Skagway, other than that I only stopped for 1 night each place until I got to Tok.

It took me 7 days to go from Dawson Creek, BC to Tok, AK.


The only extra things I took for the vehicles other than their spare tires was; water hoses, thermostat, air filters (which I changed in Tok as the roads improved without gravel and dust) and I took an extra fan belt. I figured if I had a problem with any of those items I wouldn't have to worry about locals having them in stock, if I even had a local close by. Most anyone including myself can change those items.

I was surprised that about every 50 to 100 miles I came upon a small community, usually with a gas station. That eased my mind as it's the unknown of the wide wide open spaces in Alaska that makes a person apprehensive. With the economy I wouldn't be surprised that some of those businesses aren't closed now. In fact, one gas station owner I spoke with said his business with travelers was down about 50%. This was 2006 when we had our highest gas prices until last 2008. My recommendation is top off at every gas station as the one list in the Milestone maybe not be open anymore.

I guess that's it for now.



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Old 01-09-2010, 10:17 AM   #4
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Thomas,

I went to Alaska summer of 2006. I don't have a map handy and can't remember the road names or numbers, but here's what I found from Dawson Creek, BC to Tok, AK.

The highway was great and a wide two lane highway for hundreds of miles. Somewhere below the Yukon in Bristish Columbia, I believe, the road narrowed but was fine. (I wish our rural roads here in CA were as good) Sure there were frost heaves here and there but they are all flagged so you can see them as you approach.

The section of road that was the worst was above Haines Juncion from the south end of Kulane Lake to the Alaska border. I'm guessing maybe a hundred miles or more. To many it appeared as though they were working on the road. What I saw was just sweepers, rollers and water trucks. It didn't appear to me that they intended on ever paving that stretch of roadway. It's a pretty cold area in the winter and leaving packed gavel and roadbase makes sense to me as compared to continual road repair with asphalt.

As far as protection for the trailer, I ordered that clear cover they put on new cars for shipping. The first piece I was attempting to put on barely touched it's self and that was it, ruined. It was easy to install, just don't let it touch it's self. I made the mistake of starting at the belly band and going down. I needed one more piece to cover the very bottom 1 1/2 inch. I didn't have time to get more and sure enough my trailer has some road rash in the area that was not protected. Oh, I forgot to mention I went around the curve of the trailer just even with the running lights and that was fine. I also had mud flaps on the Jeep, they really didn' help much.

You said Dawson to Tok. If you are speaking of The Top of the World highway through Dawson City and Chicken.....I didn't go that route.

I was sight seeing so my travel was slow compared to most. I travel with a dog so I stop at just about anything to see and that gives Lily a rest from traveling and a good walk. One day I only went 75 miles, just 'cause. I spent 2 nights in Whitehorse to explore the area and take a day trip down to Skagway, other than that I only stopped for 1 night each place until I got to Tok.

It took me 7 days to go from Dawson Creek, BC to Tok, AK.


The only extra things I took for the vehicles other than their spare tires was; water hoses, thermostat, air filters (which I changed in Tok as the roads improved without gravel and dust) and I took an extra fan belt. I figured if I had a problem with any of those items I wouldn't have to worry about locals having them in stock, if I even had a local close by. Most anyone including myself can change those items.

I was surprised that about every 50 to 100 miles I came upon a small community, usually with a gas station. That eased my mind as it's the unknown of the wide wide open spaces in Alaska that makes a person apprehensive. With the economy I wouldn't be surprised that some of those businesses aren't closed now. In fact, one gas station owner I spoke with said his business with travelers was down about 50%. This was 2006 when we had our highest gas prices until last 2008. My recommendation is top off at every gas station as the one list in the Milestone maybe not be open anymore.

I guess that's it for now.
My wife and I went to Alaska in 2009 from eastern Canada with our 16' Scamp. Joy's remarks are spot on. 90% of the highways are very good. You will encounter sections of construction/repair....but you'll encounter that on the best highway in North America.
Much of the Alaska Hwy is divided. We did travel the "Top of the World Hwy through Chicken and on to Tok. The Canadian side of that Hwy is supposed to be partically paved. It is really broken pavement and rough gravel. The road is narrow in places but if you take your time it is do able. I would suggest an overnight in Chicken and from there it's only a few mile until you are driving on good pavement again.....what a relief!
There are frost heaves in many stretches, but you are warned well in advance. The most memoriable is the Glen Hwy in Alaska and the stretch from Alaska border into Canada toward Beaver Creek.

The trip is an awesome experience and we wish you good luck.

Jerry & Vivian Cranford




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Old 01-09-2010, 08:29 PM   #5
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Thanks to the OP for a wonderful flashbacks to our Alaskan adventure of 2009. The other posters above were correct about the roads.

My wife and I drove the Top Of the World highway (YT 9 and AK 5) in late July and yes I did cover the front of the rig with protection. I also covered all driver side windows of the Suburban and Bigfoot with thin foam packing by just taping to the window area with wide packing tape. Most all damage is from vehicles passing from the opposite direction. Slow down and move over to the right to give maximum distance between vehicles. Slow way down and give anyone wanting to pass a chance to at the first opportunity. My best protection for the trailer was the long rear wheel mudflaps hanging close (2-3inches) to the ground, they worked great for 12K miles . I carried extra spares for suburban and Bigfoot and did not have any tire trouble. I found the gravel breaks in the YT smoother than some of the washboard in AK. Plan to drive it on a clear day for the scenic beauty and no mud.
It took most of the day to drive from Dawson City, YT to Tok Alaska. We started early from the Yukon River government campground and drove into Tok in the late afternoon. We drove slow and spent time at Chicken.
Always carry some extra fuel (we carried 10 gal) and work from the upper half of your tank. This is the reason why and it can happen at any time or any place, I think this will display what is written on the white sign on the pump located near Toad River on the Alaskan Hiway. Gas was a good bit cheaper at Tok than at Chicken and you can wash your rig free with a fillup. Be sure to stop at Chicken and shop the little store and purchase a Tee shirt and "I drove the Top of the World Highway" bumper sticker.

http://environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca/camping/...ds_2009_map.pdf
http://www.dawsoncity.ca/visitorservices/placestostay/
http://www.chickenak.com/

You are welcome to view the Alaskan pictures in my picture album.
There are many road pictures in the many albums.
Also view my Alaskan vacation blog here, just click on the June time frame.

Happy trails
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:23 PM   #6
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We have been to Alaska twice, the last time with our 17 foot Escape. We saw another egg that had duct-taped bubble wrap to the front of the travel to protect it from rock chips, an easy and effective fix. Take along some bug and tar/grease remover. We never had trouble finding places to gas up. Always top up at every opportunity. The Milepost travel guide would be an invaluable purchase.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:20 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for all the tips, especially the advice about covering the lower front of the trailer to protect against gravel impact. I'll probably use waterproof duct tape to put something on temporarily when I make the trip. Yes I was specifically asking about the "top of the world" highway. Since no one mentioned I'm assuming no one got flats just from traveling on gravel. I know some folks recommend carrying 2 spares but that would entail me buying another wheel/tire assembly. I'll probably get a 12 volt tire inflator and some tire plugs as a backup to the standard single spare, and carry a gas can just in case.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:27 AM   #8
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Remember, the main reason for flats is sharp stones that actually puncture the tire. Over inflation can promote these stone punctures. Maintain proper inflation and do carry tire plugs and air compressor. This being said, the Top of the World is not considered to be high on the list of sharp stone flat causing roads. As I mentioned above in my post, I had no flat problems. While you are in Dawson, observe the local's vehicles that are covered with special grill guards and other temporary window covering. I talked to a traveler in a SUV that lost a driver side window to a rock hit.

Be aware that the Poker Creek border Station closes at dark and does not open till morning. You can not cross when closed.
If your travel is either early in the season or late, check at the tourist information as to road conditions and fuel availability.

I am happy we traveled the Top of the World Highway, it is just stunning. We spent 5 days in Dawson City, very historical gold rush town.
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