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Old 08-06-2019, 03:36 PM   #1
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2016 28' Pendleton
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Alaska 2020 Epic Trip (We hope)

My wife and I are planning our first Alaskan Trip next summer. We're accessing the Yellowhead Highway out of Winnipeg, through to Edmonton, and then Highway 43 into Dawson Creek where we'll get on the Alaska Highway to Tok, AK. How bad/good are the highways and road conditions, specifically along the AlCan? What would be an average driving distance we could expect to achieve in a day (assuming that's all we'd be doing for 6-7 hours)? Are there any particular campgrounds to recommend along this route? Has anybody made the return trip when leaving Alaska around the middle of September with respect to the weather conditions we might encounter? We have a 27' Pendleton . . . what kind of beating can we expect it to receive? Should we expect road tar? Are flat tires more of the rule rather than the exception? Does anyone do anything to protect the AS front shields? Anything else we should be prepared to deal with? I'll certainly appreciate any and all suggestions, comments, and personal learning experiences! Hey, Thanks for any and all help!
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:09 PM   #2
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I followed this tread by Tincampers on their trip last year. Entertaining, well documented with pictures. Felt like I was along for the ride.

They were in an Interstate class b, but most will apply to you I think.


http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ka-178650.html


Blog here:

https://www.tincampers.us/2018/06/heading-out.html



Photos here:

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...s2XzRhVHFkaFdR

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...hRM1h1VEs1b0t3
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:44 PM   #3
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I’m on that trip now. Here are a few general notes on the drive:

North of Jasper, AB is where the roads start getting worse. The Alcan doesn’t start until Dawson Creek, as you know, and it’s OK for a good long while. It’s when you get into the upper reaches of BC and Yukon that the road conditions worsen sharply.

It’s all doable and I’m told time of summer makes a big difference. I intentionally arrived in Jasper mid-July so road crews could get a lot of their annual fixing done before we headed up on the Alcan. Still, there were long stretches of construction. Construction means gravel of varying quality, narrow lanes, and soft or no shoulders. On dry days it’s dust and on wet days it’s mud. It’s always prudent to go slowly; frost heaves and large pavement shifts can catch you off guard if the sun’s position doesn’t make them apparent.

I resigned myself to a replacement windshield and maybe a window or two on the Airstream. Nothing so far, but I still have to drive back. I did see many totally wrecked windshields and on one stretch, a bunch of broken axles on vehicles that were pushed to the side of the road. I’d worry less about the damage to your rig (which you can’t really control except to be prudent) and more about staying safe. You can fix almost anything or have it fixed. But you can’t buy an experience like the trip we are on.

I did the trip up alone with two kids and gave myself 7 nights. I don’t know what our average was—our long day was 380 miles and our short day was 110. It was all gorgeous and only parts of it were truly unenjoyable. This is for all intents and purposes our first trip in an RV and my first time to Alaska—a place I’ve wanted to go my whole life.

If you have specific questions let me know.
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcwall View Post
My wife and I are planning our first Alaskan Trip next summer. We're accessing the Yellowhead Highway out of Winnipeg, through to Edmonton, and then Highway 43 into Dawson Creek where we'll get on the Alaska Highway to Tok, AK. How bad/good are the highways and road conditions, specifically along the AlCan? What would be an average driving distance we could expect to achieve in a day (assuming that's all we'd be doing for 6-7 hours)? Are there any particular campgrounds to recommend along this route? Has anybody made the return trip when leaving Alaska around the middle of September with respect to the weather conditions we might encounter? We have a 27' Pendleton . . . what kind of beating can we expect it to receive? Should we expect road tar? Are flat tires more of the rule rather than the exception? Does anyone do anything to protect the AS front shields? Anything else we should be prepared to deal with? I'll certainly appreciate any and all suggestions, comments, and personal learning experiences! Hey, Thanks for any and all help!
We did the trip in 2016. The last 100 miles before the Alaska-Canada was the roughest. The highway is built on permafrost and this stretch in particular sustains winter damage. You may find 30 mile stretches of muddy washboard during the summer road repairs. This can occur in other stretches in the Yukon and in Alaska. No tar issues but plenty of mud. Check the screws in you bath and kitchen cabinets.

Most in our group of seven trailers Gorrilla taped yoga mats to our front and street side windows and rock guards during our stop in Whitehorse. We noticed rock cuts on the mats when we finally removed them later in the trip.

No one in our group had tire issues. Most of us had new or recently installed tires on our TVs and trailers. We carried a spare Airstream and a RAM tire and wheel.

Canadian Provincial Parks are the best. We returned on the Cassiar Highway. A beautiful drive on good roads. Almost 500 miles without cell service.

Have fun and don't be in a hurry.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:42 AM   #5
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We did this trip in 2016 as well and had no damage. We traveled into late September and saw the northern lights!

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:44 AM   #6
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Old 08-07-2019, 02:18 PM   #7
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We just made this trip and have returned to the US last week. From our home in Atlanta, we left on May 15. Our route was through Wisconsin, MN, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, Alberta with slight detour to Lake Louise, and started Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek. Then took Klondike Highway to Dawson City and Top of the World back to Tok and on to Fairbanks. We took a day trip from Fairbanks without trailer to the Yukon River Bridge on the Dalton Highway along the Pipeline. We left rig in Fairbanks and flew home on June 15. We returned on July 10 and visited in order, Denali NP,Homer and day long bush plane trip to Katmai NP to watch bears, Seward with day boat trip to Kenai Fjords NP, then long drive back through CA to Haines, AK. We were supposed to take Alaska State Ferry to Juneau but plans were upended by a strike which shut down the ferry system. We left rig at Chilkat SP near Haines and took commuter plane to Juneau and on to Gustavus. We spent a night at Glacier Bay Lodge and had day long boat trip to Glacier Bay NP before flying back to Haines. Because of ferry strike, we then drove the Cassier Highway back through BC to Seattle where we are now. We head east tomorrow planning to be back in Atlanta, August 22.

Our lessons:

1. The Alaska highway is not as bad as advertised. We had no tire or mechanical problems. Even the Top of the World dirt road is a speed limit run. The only tire problem we had was a broken tire stem on an interstate in Indiana. The worst part of the highway is from Haines Junction to Tok. Lots of frost heaves but just take it easy and you will be fine. Northern part of Cassiar Highway is narrow and rough but smooths out in the lower half.
2. No worries about running out of fuel. Refill at 1/2 full if you get anxious but we never came close to running out.
3. Very little cell phone coverage but never felt we needed it except we missed our online world. Cell phone data plans in CA are expensive anyway.
4. Although done out of necessity, the short flights in SE panhandle on Alaska Seaplanes was one of the highlights of the trip. Particularly from Haines to Juneau. These flights are less than 30 minutes but at an altitude of 2000 ft you have spectacular views of the mountains and glaciers. Not that expensive either.
5. There is always some road repair going on. Some stops were as long as 20 minutes. Nothing you can do so patience is required.
6. Groceries are about 30% more expensive in Alaska. Gasoline is 40% more expensive in CA particularly BC even with the favorable currency.
7. Make reservations ahead of time for anything from June 15 to July 31. Shoulder season seems to end around June 15 and begin again August 1.
8. There is wildlife everywhere.
9. Campground quality varies wildly. Best campgrounds were KOA in Homer, AK (unbelievable location on a cliff overlooking Kachemak Bay) and Haines Hitchup in Haines. Worst was at Pink Mountain. We dry camped in Liard River Hotsprings, Denali, and in Chilkat SP.
10. Stuff will happen. Worst thing that happened was that when we left our truck (not the trailer) at long term parking at Fairbanks Airport for three weeks, some miscreant disconnected the gasoline fill pipe in an attempt to steal gas. Fortunately we discovered before it was too late but had a scary trip back to Fairbanks from Denali to a Toyota dealer with no way to refuel. In BC on the way back, we ran into a road closure on the BC highway 97 south of Quesnel in pouring rain causing us to backtrack to an RV park. The next day 1:40 to cross border.

I am sure I have left out a lot. It really is the trip of a lifetime.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:32 PM   #8
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Following thread ...

Following thread to get ideas for our 2020 Alaska trip. Thanks for starting it.
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:44 PM   #9
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The roads in Canada and Alaska are in great shape and paved, mostly. The worst road and the best road is the Richardson HWY between Glennallen and Valdez. At least 4 stretches of repairs with pilot cars. Last one the flagger told us the wait was at least 15 minutes. Time to walk the dog and meet all the Streamers from Houston behind us. At times we were doing 65 mph and then under 40 mph. Depends on the lumps and bumps. Heard of hobby horsing? I tend to watch the outside white striping for whoopdeedos.


Big rumor this trip is the Tok Cutoff is the worst road conditions. We will find out tomorrow.



Only damage we have is small rock damage on the curved plexiglass. South of Whitehorse. Windshield and paint damage for sandstorm in AZ. No tire damage. No axle damage. Never use your trailer and you'll never have a souvenir.


It's the trip you will never forget.


Carolyn and John
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:49 PM   #10
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The roads in Canada and Alaska are in great shape and paved, mostly. The worst road and the best road is the Richardson HWY between Glennallen and Valdez. At least 4 stretches of repairs with pilot cars. Last one the flagger told us the wait was at least 15 minutes. Time to walk the dog and meet all the Streamers from Houston behind us. At times we were doing 65 mph and then under 40 mph. Depends on the lumps and bumps. Heard of hobby horsing? I tend to watch the outside white striping for whoopdeedos.


Big rumor this trip is the Tok Cutoff is the worst road conditions. We will find out tomorrow.



Only damage we have is small rock damage on the curved plexiglass. South of Whitehorse. Windshield and paint damage for sandstorm in AZ. No tire damage. No axle damage. Never use your trailer and you'll never have a souvenir.


It's the trip you will never forget.


Carolyn and John
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ASfromAustin View Post
Big rumor this trip is the Tok Cutoff is the worst road conditions. We will find out tomorrow.

I have recently heard this as well from several locals. Iíll be heading back up to the Alcan (and eventually down the Cassiar) in a few weeks from Valdez. Without exception they advised me to stay on 4 up to Delta Junction and head east from there and avoid the Tok cutoff.

That said, in a few weeks construction on the cutoff might be done. On my way into Alaska a couple near Muncho Lake was grousing about having their windshield cracked in four places one week prior due to construction gravel on one stretch of the Alcan near Watson Lake. When I drove through the section they mentioned, construction was done and it was one of the nicest portions of road on the whole drive (though there were plenty of not-so-nice sections to make up for it).
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:43 AM   #12
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A must have for anyone going to Alaska, is a copy of the latest Milepost. The Bible on every road including Canada.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:35 AM   #13
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Also going to Alaska in 2020

Our plan is to head up through Montana and then make a side trip to Banff and then to Skagway. We are interested in parking the camper in Skagway and taking the ferry to Juneau/Sitka/Gustavus. If not the ferry potentially flying to one or all 3 of those places depending on the ferry schedule.

Has anyone done that? Did you feel safe leaving your camper in Skagway for 6-7 days? Where did you park?

Thanks, I will be also following this closely.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:42 AM   #14
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Following this thread (from Montana) to determine whether we want to join you or not next year. Laurel thinks we should rent a camper and save the AS. LOL!

Mike & Laurel
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