Campgrounds - Alaska & Back... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-07-2020, 05:02 PM   #1
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Campgrounds - Alaska & Back...

My wife and I are tentatively planning to take our Escape 19'er travel trailer up to Alaska and back this summer. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to find spots in campgrounds / private RV parks in Canada & Alaska? Does one need to make reservations days/weeks/months ahead of time? Or can one kind of play it by ear?

What's your experience?

Thank you, in advance, for your thoughts.
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Old 03-07-2020, 05:39 PM   #2
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Only reservations we made in our August 2018 trip to AK were Elk Island Provincial Park (outside of Edmonton), Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park, Denali National Park and Yellowstone NP (on the way home).

Getting a campsite at Denali State Park is no problem, but its basically a rest area (with great views of the same mountain of course). Predicting arrival date to Yellowstone was pretty tricky.

The longer the trip, the harder it is to plan the later stages of the trip.


Lots of dry camping along the way. Liard Hot Springs had a dry camp parking lot across the street, we could have stayed there without a reservation.
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Old 03-07-2020, 11:44 PM   #3
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It would depend on when you are traveling. We went up in June and had no problems without reservations but were told by locals that the "grey wave" starts around July 1st, when the flow of campers really start. We did have trouble getting into Liard Hot Springs but did arrive late in the day so we stayed in a private campground across the highway rather than the open overflow parking. On the return trip we arrived at Liard around noon and had no trouble getting in. The hidden gems are the Yukon Territory parks that are well maintained, clean and cheap ($13/night 4 years ago). Just be aware that some Alberta Provincial parks may be closed or privatized this year if the new government gets its way (the fight is on to prevent it). If you are crossing to Alberta at the Coutts/Sweetgrass crossing, there is a very nice campground called Writing On Stone and its just east of Milk River AB.
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:34 AM   #4
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We spent from May 14 to the middle of September, 2018, on a trip to and from AK. 16,334 miles. We had reservations at Banff, Jasper, and Denali NP's. The rest of the time we made use of provincial parks, AK state parks, and pullouts, etc. Only used a commercial park three times overnight while outside the continental U S. Don't leave home without Church's campground guide. We used it much more than the Milepost. We did do short travel days, getting off the road by 2 or 3, most days. Made for a much more enjoyable experience.
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:20 PM   #5
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I took my Escape 15 to Alaska 4 years ago. I had reservations at provincial parks in BC until I was past Prince George. For the rest of the trip, there and back, I had no problem finding a spot in a provincial or territorial campground. Yukon sites are great as the firewood is free (or was). I would occasionally stay at an RV park where I could dump my holding tanks and have access to a laundromat. When in Alaska I stayed a commercial sites, largely because of convenience. Allow your self lots of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery. The 'best' part of the trip was Yukon!
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Old 03-08-2020, 04:40 PM   #6
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We made the trip in late June & July, 2015. Very few reservations other than the Teklanika Campground in Denali. We did sometimes call ahead late mornings to see if there would be sites that night.

Some suggestions - Stop at the visitor center in Dawson Creek (the start of the Alaskan Highway) and ask for their list of campgrounds & fuel stops. This will be the most up to date information available. We also used Church's Travelers Guide to Alaska & the Yukon, and while we also carried the Milepost, I didn't find it as useful as Church's book.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by EscapeBoulder View Post
My wife and I are tentatively planning to take our Escape 19'er travel trailer up to Alaska and back this summer. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to find spots in campgrounds / private RV parks in Canada & Alaska? Does one need to make reservations days/weeks/months ahead of time? Or can one kind of play it by ear?

What's your experience?

Thank you, in advance, for your thoughts.
We never made a reservation in 2008 or 2015 at all. The only place we had trouble was at Denali National Park. Take the phone number for making a reservation and call a week or so ahead. Liard Hotsprings and many other places have overflow parking that is nice. If the sign says full then just go ask. The Canadians were very helpful with sites. We pulled into one campground that said full at Johnsons Canyon and they gave us a handicap site that was empty for one night. Along the parks hwy you cannot camp at pullouts in Canada but in Alaska no problems. In White Horse in the Yukon you can stay in the Walmart parking lot. It is actually marked for that reason. There is a gas station next door that has a dump and water. They just ask that you buy fuel there. They were one of the cheapest stations also. Many people even drop their trailers and go see the sights which are many in that area. Just drive slow and careful and see the animals and sites as you go. You don't want a schedule as you'll want to see a lot. In Haines on the July 4th weekend we got a site in a campground right on the edge of the water. They actually told us to stay for 4 nights for all the festivities. The fireworks over the water were awesome. We used the Milepost since it told a lot of stuff that the Church's Campground guide didn't but the campground guide also helps a lot. Some of the Fred Meyer Stores have places in their parking lots that you can camp in and they provide a dump and water for free. Have a great time.
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Old 03-09-2020, 12:30 PM   #8
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agree with you

Having a small camper give you lots of flexibility. we never reserve matter of fact we never stay at a campground! We boondock along the way and when we get there we boondock.

Lots of folks do it. you will see them at rest areas and other places! I have flown to Alaska with our tenting stuff so were forced to use campgrounds and never had any problems. We didn't use reservations either in these cases we were never turned down. If I recall we stayed at a private campground at Denali and had a spectacular view!

The world is a big place with lots of opportunities.

bob

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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
Only reservations we made in our August 2018 trip to AK were Elk Island Provincial Park (outside of Edmonton), Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park, Denali National Park and Yellowstone NP (on the way home).

Getting a campsite at Denali State Park is no problem, but its basically a rest area (with great views of the same mountain of course). Predicting arrival date to Yellowstone was pretty tricky.

The longer the trip, the harder it is to plan the later stages of the trip.


Lots of dry camping along the way. Liard Hot Springs had a dry camp parking lot across the street, we could have stayed there without a reservation.
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Old 03-09-2020, 12:31 PM   #9
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Hi I would highly recommend that you take the state ferry down the inland waterway , at least to Prince George , on your return leg . It will be somewhat expensive but IMO well worth the cost . The wife and I both agree that the scenery on the Inland waterway was the most beautiful on the whole trip . You will need to make reservations well in advance as the ferries fill up in the summer . If it works for you it would be nice to lay over in some of the coastal cities on the way back . Many of the passengers on the ferry , maybe even most , are locals going to the Alaskan inland waterway cities or to and from the lower 48 . Lee and Norma
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Old 03-09-2020, 01:29 PM   #10
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Camping from Alaska

We've been up and down the highway between Anchorage and the Lower 48 several times, with & without our Scamp. As others have commented, the only reservations we've made were at Banff & Jasper. Lots of campgrounds, some great & at least one awful. Get off the road by the middle of the afternoon and there's rarely a problem getting a site. It can be a different story late in the evening, and it can get very late before you realize it. Do plan to drive the alternate route on the Cassiar Highway in one direction; I would do it northbound. It's a narrower road with less traffic and some really nice Provincial campgrounds. If you want to explore Southeast Alaska and the Inside Passage, you should know that the Alaska Marine Highway (the Alaska state ferry system) is in shambles right now between aging equipment and political wrangling over budget cuts and taxes. There may or may not be service this year. You will need a reservation, especially with a vehicle. Keep checking back with them and have a backup plan!
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Old 03-09-2020, 01:33 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Lee Senn;770433]Hi I would highly recommend that you take the state ferry down the inland waterway /QUOTE]


I'd think hard about that, given that top medical authorities are advising people to avoid cruise ships and a ferry is a mini cruise.
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Old 03-09-2020, 01:39 PM   #12
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Alaska Ferries

Probably another good reason not to plan on the ferries this year!
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Old 03-09-2020, 02:58 PM   #13
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We have been trying to put together an Alaska trip this summer as well. The plans keep evolving from taking the marine highway with or without the car, with or without the trailer, flying and using the train for seeing the mainline, and know looking into driving, again with or without the trailer.

I ordered the Alaska Camping book recommended earlier to help with the planning. Should I drag a 50 year old camper to Alaska? Friends drove a '36 Cord up there and back a few years ago, so it should make it.

Stay tuned.
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Old 03-09-2020, 03:53 PM   #14
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50 year old camper

Dave, what would you be dragging your 50 year camper with? The highway is actually better than most people think. There are a few patches with frost heaves like big speed bumps, and there's always at least one section being reconstructed. But in the last couple of years friends have driven a Pinto stationwagon up and back, likewise an even older MG roadster towing a tiny trailer. There are repair services at reasonable intervals; Fireweed RV in Whitehorse fixed my electrical connection after it was damaged by ice in the road late one September. Per my earlier comment, I don't think I would count on the state ferry system this year.
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Old 03-09-2020, 04:22 PM   #15
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My TV is a 2019 Pilot, so I'm not worried about that at all. I drove the highway southbound in 1986 with a class C and it was in pretty good shape then except for construction zones.

Frost heaves, know them well. My uncle would hit them att 60 and the front end of his class A would go airborne. He lived outside Anchorage for many years and was used to them.

Back to the original subject of camping - we could car camp and would probably make better time without the trailer but would be a lot more comfortable with it.
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Dave, what would you be dragging your 50 year camper with? The highway is actually better than most people think. There are a few patches with frost heaves like big speed bumps, and there's always at least one section being reconstructed. But in the last couple of years friends have driven a Pinto stationwagon up and back, likewise an even older MG roadster towing a tiny trailer. There are repair services at reasonable intervals; Fireweed RV in Whitehorse fixed my electrical connection after it was damaged by ice in the road late one September. Per my earlier comment, I don't think I would count on the state ferry system this year.
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Old 03-09-2020, 07:33 PM   #16
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One thing to remember, GAS. I got the Milepost guide first, then got a local up to date print out at the Dawson Creek visitor center. What neither guide could tell me about were gas stations that were out of FUEL, closed. Oops, I hadn't counted on that. I ended up backtracking 40 miles as I was not positive the next station would have gas. According to my dashboard gauge, I was out of gas the last ten miles. And I put 27 gallons into my 26 gallon tank.

Turned out that next station was out of gas, so I would have had to go another 100 miles, which of course, I did not have that range.

As you get into the northern sections, best to not pass any open gas station. Top off is the prudent approach.
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Old 03-09-2020, 08:38 PM   #17
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Thrifty Bill

Always great advice, Thrifty Bill. Never pass a gas station, a toilet, or a grocery store!
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Old 03-09-2020, 09:56 PM   #18
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About all I can say is spending much time in the Peace River Regional District, British Columbia, Canada. it is amazing area very few cars stunning views on the way to Alaska. I spend much time up there which for me is about 700 miles or two days drive. I've talked with many that have ventured in that direction over the years and to explain to them that the green foliage they see in July will be yellow or gone in 6-8 weeks they seemed surprised. Weather you go to Alaska or the Yukon or northern BC you will have the time of your life.
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:37 AM   #19
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We went in 2015, a 3 month trip, one full month was in AK. We are going again this year because you will never see it all, even if you don't do the ferry system. For us the ferry is out this year due to the unknowns of if it will be available.

If you really enjoy adventuring and exploring do not do reservations. We had no issues in 2015, in the most popular area, Denali, we just called about 3 days before we got there and made a reservation for the time spent there.

Also if possible don't set a firm return date, some days we did not make 20 miles down our route before we saw something that took the rest of the day to explore. Having a reservation ruins that all together due to having to make up time.

We used a 10-2 time frame, usually on the road by 10, and looking for the next stop by 2pm. with unlimited sun it is tempting to just keep going, pace yourself and enjoy every minute.

Pictures in the 2015 album link at Flicker below if interested
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Old 03-10-2020, 08:25 AM   #20
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our experience

Several years ago we flew up there, rented a car very reasonable! We flew our tent with us then, arrived in Anchorage rented our car and first thing was to get a tenting space in the Anchorage camping area it had some homeless people in it. Matter of fact that was the first time we had encountered this! we did talk to them! Oh it was funny to set the tent up and go to bed in the daylight!

We did the Anchorage tour for a couple of days this was also the first time we encountered boondocking. The Sams, Walmarts, Freds all had campers parked on them! All saving money and spending it at these stores! Then we started our tour of the rest of Alaska it was all wonderful and interesting!

We even took our rental car to Chicken to Dawson Canada. On that route we went to the Top of the world it looked funny! We didn't know we could not take that car out of state! On the way stopped at TOK eat dinner and get free camping. First encounter of perma frost by the way!

Found several national parks of course did the Denali thing remember you only see it one or 2 times a year we weren't lucky but what we could see it was spectacular! we did get within 100miles of the Artic Circle most told us not to bother driving there wasn't much to see along the way..

The only wildlife we saw was 2 mooses at the airport when we landed. LOL! I want to go again.. Oh yes the highways. Yes you encounter frost heaves and you might drive a mile on roads you don't think you can while they have it torn up for work but you will make it! Gas we never had any trouble! The roads are not actually paved they are made up of a smashed down chip rock of some sort. I saw people on motorcycles completely covered with some sort of dusty slime on them. Our car was covered up with it when we turned it in also!

We did our trip in July so the salmon were all dying we never saw any bears I guess they were all stuffed by the time. We did get plenty of fresh fish at times it was fresh frozen.

Alaska is the last great frontier that is for sure! Talking to the local trinket sellers same old complaints no one spending any money but they were there trying.

Reservations we never did any primarily because we don't like having to meet time restraints when we travel. Sometimes this results in sleeping in the car no big deal! We have don't this numerous times in Europe and did it 2x our last trip to Israel!

bob



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Originally Posted by TZBrown View Post
We went in 2015, a 3 month trip, one full month was in AK. We are going again this year because you will never see it all, even if you don't do the ferry system. For us the ferry is out this year due to the unknowns of if it will be available.

If you really enjoy adventuring and exploring do not do reservations. We had no issues in 2015, in the most popular area, Denali, we just called about 3 days before we got there and made a reservation for the time spent there.

Also if possible don't set a firm return date, some days we did not make 20 miles down our route before we saw something that took the rest of the day to explore. Having a reservation ruins that all together due to having to make up time.

We used a 10-2 time frame, usually on the road by 10, and looking for the next stop by 2pm. with unlimited sun it is tempting to just keep going, pace yourself and enjoy every minute.

Pictures in the 2015 album link at Flicker below if interested
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