Alaska travel tips from 2015 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 01-24-2016, 11:09 AM   #1
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Name: Claire
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500
British Columbia
Posts: 261
Alaska travel tips from 2015

This past summer we took 7 weeks (middle of August to middle of September) and had an incredible time in BC, Yukon, Alaska, and Alberta.
We went up the Fraser Canyon to Prince George and then west and up the Stuart Cassiar Highway to the Alaska Highway. From Whitehorse, (with a train trip to Skagway) we went north to Dawson City and took a day trip out to Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster. Then we went across the Top of the World Highway, over to Tok, and Fairbanks. We then headed south to Denali and on down to Palmer and Anchorage, before heading east along the Glenn Highway, with a short side trip down the Haines Highway to Dezadeash Lake. From Whitehorse (second time through) we went east through Watson Lake and down to Dawson Creek before heading south to Calgary, Alberta. We returned home across the bottom of BC on the number 3. We prefer to camp without a hook-up.

The following are points we would like to share with others thinking of taking this trip:

• Before embarking on a long trip, it has been recommended to us that you establish a line of credit for “just in case” scenarios such as a major breakdown, accident or medical problems. We now agree.
• This is a big area with a lot of driving and a lot to see. Book more holiday time then you think so you can enjoy it.
• Drive the road, not the speed limit.
• Black circles on the road surface are pot holes that might be filled or maybe 6 to 8 inches deep
• Red/orange plastic bags, or flags on the side of the highway indicate that there is, or was, a road hazard, so slow down.
• Double black lines (picture two sets of two stripes going with the road) 4 or 5 feet apart across your lane are made my semi trailers. The second set of tires hits the top of the frost heave while the first sets are at the bottom. Slow down for a bump.
• The Stewart Cassiar has less traffic and a more peaceful feeling than the Alaska Highway.
• The Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to half way to Muncho Lake is HEAVILY used by the oil and gas industry. They know the road and they usually drive aggressively, well over the speed limit. If it is raining the road can be very muddy as most of the access roads are mud. The road tends to be narrow with little or no shoulder, so pulling over to let others pass is not always an option, but the locals will pass anyway, which can be very scary.
• There are few vehicle repair facilities east of Whitehorse, so major problems are taken to Whitehorse. If you break down north of Muncho Lake, they tow you to Watson Lake, and then if necessary on to Whitehorse. If you are South of Muncho Lake, they take you to Fort Nelson or further south.
• Cell phone coverage is limited to town. Thankfully people are very helpful if you have trouble.
• Tow trucks in the north have sleeper cabs; do not let that alarm you.
• If you are staying in a non-commercial campground, carry your own water, regardless of what the Milepost says.
• Asking people about road conditions provides you with information based on what the other person is used to traveling on. So use it as a guide.
• 1/3 of the yearly Yukon Highway budget is spent on the stretch of the Alaska Highway between Beaver Creek and Burwash Landing. 90% of the dirty vehicles we meet picked up their dirt on this stretch.
• Public Libraries will let you use their computers for internet access or emails, and they often have WiFi. Just let them know that you are visiting and would like a visitor pass.
• Doing laundry late at night might allow you to see the Northern Lights.
• Top of the World Highway can be dangerous in the rain as the surface is more clay and mud than anything else. (we had sun and dry conditions, but we sure heard some horror stories)
• Rental units tend to crowd the center line as they do not know where their edges are. Stop so they have to go around you.
• The food allowed across the border varies depending on the location of the crossing and what the current concerns are. We lost our eggs coming back into Canada, but only our firewood going into Alaska.
• Fill up when you see it. (Most expensive gas on our trip was $1.98 a liter at Muncho Lake)
• Stop often and look around. We had our best moose sighting while pulled over to let traffic pass. A big bull moose down in the swap eating weeds.
• Take a bug proof enclosure for meals and relaxing.
• Just in case you are wondering what happened, our sienna van died, and repairs exceeded the value of the vehicle, so we had to buy a new tow vehicle to get home. When in truck country buy a truck.)
• Most important of all - remember you are on holiday.

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Old 01-24-2016, 11:36 AM   #2
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Name: Mon
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Sounds like a memorable trip, for oh, so many reasons!


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Old 01-24-2016, 11:49 AM   #3
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Great information, thank you!
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:19 PM   #4
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
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A Toyota... died? That's not supposed to happen! (said the Highlander owner)
How to prepare Tofu
Step 1: throw tofu in the trash
Step 2: grill some meat
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:00 PM   #5
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Name: David
Trailer: 1998 Casita 17 SD
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You just about summed it up very well. Missed a couple
-Yukon territorial camp grounds are clean, well looked after and CHEAP at $12 with free firewood (stayed at 3 of them). Usually small but nice.
-must stop at Liard Hot Springs but try to arrive at the park early if you are staying.
-When you are walking down to a beaver dam and see 2 bear cubs go up a tree, look for momma bear while you are exiting stage left
-gas up in towns(and not the first gas station), not at at lodges(one was $1.70/l)
-Stop at Braeburn Lodge and get a cinnamon bun and sandwich(one sandwich will feed a family)
-The Canadian Park pass will get you into a lot of the stuff in Dawson City for free as well as the paddle wheeler in Whitehorse( we had a yearly pass.
_if you gas up at a cardlock and it doesn't work, check you credit card when you get home($250 billed to it)
-watch out for bison, moose, deer, bears, tourists
-buy the Milepost
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:38 PM   #6
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Name: Jim
Trailer: 16' Scamp
Washington (dry side)
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Great information. Thanks.
I'm hoping to make the Alaska trip in 2017 with a Honda Odyssey pulling a 16' Scamp. Is this realistic?

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Old 01-25-2016, 08:28 AM   #7
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Alot of big hills to climb and descend and the Odyssey is not known for having a good transmission. I think it would be quite a stain on it pulling the Scamp. Some of the hills were a real strain for my 4.6l F150 and 17' Casita.
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Old 01-25-2016, 11:40 AM   #8
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Name: Marilyn
Trailer: 13 ft 2005 Scamp Deluxe; 2002 Subaru V6 Outback
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Traveling with a dog

I've been intrigued by this trip's on my bucket list. Not sure if my 2002 Subaru Outback can take it? But more concerned about traveling in big bear country with my dog. Has anyone taken their dog on this trip?
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Old 01-25-2016, 03:36 PM   #9
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Name: Kathleen
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Hi, Marilyn, well, if my dog looked like your dog (your icon picture IS your dog, right?) I wouldn't worry too much about bears. Clash of the Titans! 8) =) :-)

But...maybe you have a different dog now?

We once had a 14-pound terrier that had a total, kill-the-bear instinct; he could not be calmed down, but bellowed and bayed and screamed and clawed until we drove far, far away.

As John Steinbeck said in Travels with Charley, you never know if your dog is a "bear dog" until it's too late.

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Old 01-25-2016, 06:05 PM   #10
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Name: Jim
Trailer: Scamp 16 Ft layout 6
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Alaska in 2016

Good info. Planning on leaving for Alaska with our Scamp 16 ft this July. Pulling it with a 2014 Acaida which be a easy pull. Looking forward to more good info on this trip.
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Old 01-25-2016, 06:46 PM   #11
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Name: Sam
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We took the trip in 2014 - 13' Scamp & Highlander. Also traveled AK Hwy, Cassiar, Stuart/Hyder Hwy, Top of the World & Tombstone. Fortunate to have no problems, not even the flat tire everyone warned us about. Spent 3 days in Tombstone, which I highly recommend. It was raining when we traveled the TOTW to Chicken, muddy, narrow in AK, but no problems - it was awesome. Sept 1 is a perfect time in that area for golds & reds & a bit of snow in the high elevations. But the advice to be prepared for anything is good counsel. Sam in West Bend, Wisconsin.
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Old 01-25-2016, 06:46 PM   #12
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
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I've done the drive between Alaska and California seven times now, most recently last fall, and most of them towing a Bigfoot. I really can't recommend light-duty vehicles on this journey. Too many things can go wrong, and there isn't much help over a large portion of the route.

I have brought my two dogs on every trip. If your dogs are well behaved and aren't prone to wandering or chasing wildlife, you will be fine. I worry less about bears and more about moose and porcupines. Just be aware that if something happens, you probably won't be near anything resembling a veterinarian.

The best gas tip I can give is to look for a wide spot in the road at Contact Creek, 36 miles above Watson Lake. The "lodge" there consistently has the cheapest gas in the YT. Also, when heading north, the last Costco is Prince George, BC until you get to Anchorage, AK. Be prepared for sticker shock at the pump elsewhere although after driving through Canada, you'll be elated at the inflated prices in Tok, Alaska, the first town after crossing the border. By U.S. standards, the prices are outrageous, but after spending three+ days in Canada, you'll be glad to pay it.

Also, your mileage may vary, but just about every time I've stopped in Watson Lake, whether for gas, food, lodging, whatever, I had some sort of bad experience. I will now avoid stopping there at all costs. Something about that place just doesn't work for me. I now make sure I can reach Contact Creek for gas so I can just pass through Watson Lake without stopping. The only thing I like about Watson Lake is seeing it in my rear view mirrors. LOL!

The Cassier Highway is pretty but narrow, curvy, and slow. It's not an ideal road for towing but doable. Just be prepared to not make great time and in the off season, bring lots of fuel as there are almost no open gas stations for hundreds of miles.

The egg and chicken ban at the border has been lifted.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:55 PM   #13
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Name: Marilyn
Trailer: 13 ft 2005 Scamp Deluxe; 2002 Subaru V6 Outback
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My icon picture is a lion cub I photographed in S. Africa last summer. My dog is a small pitbull that used to be my icon. We like to hike and don't want to be stuck in camp...but bears don't like dogs. While I've been to Alaska twice (once renting an RV,and once sea kayaking Glacier Bay), I've yet to see a moose. Just real leery about hiking alone with my dog, even with bear spray.
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Old 01-25-2016, 09:50 PM   #14
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Name: Dave (and/or John)
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Great info. Hope to make the trip either this summer or next.

John-Dave and Marilyn
Sharpsburg, GA
04 Dodge Dakota V-8 and 17 Dodge Durango V-6
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