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Old 01-07-2011, 05:14 PM   #1
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Alaska, BC, Yukon: Side Trips?

This is our Alaska year - the one we've been looking forward to since we first retired 10 years ago.

We're taking two months to complete the trip. Most of the major planning is done - our route is pretty typical - the major destinations are also typical. At this point the destinations where we will spend a fair bit of time are: Dawson City/Tombstone Territorial Park, Denali, Homer/Seward, Haines/Skagway. Most other stops are overnighters en route with perhaps an extra night if a minor destination.

Through another website we're getting a good (great) handle on dinner theatre and local performances.

But what we're missing - and wondering about - are those unsung side trips .... the "one-off" destinations, excursions or activities that don't make their way into the marketing brochures ..... that get you out of the tourist traps ..... that you'd never hear about unless you asked ..... and that can really contribute to that once-in-a-lifetime holiday .....

Looking forward to your advice.

Thanks,



Jay
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Old 01-07-2011, 05:29 PM   #2
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Go up via the Alaska Highway, come back on the Cassiar. Hyder, AK and its sister city, Stewart, BC.

Become proficient at dry camping so you can do up to 3 nights or so without hookups. Get a generator (a quiet one, of course). The Provincial Parks are in beautiful places; you can back up to any number of lakes. If you go to Denali, arrange to camp at Teklanika, which is 30 miles or so into the park - but is dry camping only.

I'd also try to visit Banff/Jasper/Icefields Parkway one way or the other. Or both ways, actually. That place blows us away.

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Old 01-07-2011, 05:54 PM   #3
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Jay,

I don't think I'm coming up with stuff that is a secret, but, these are some things we have really liked:

Seward has boat trips to a national park where you pass an area with many birds including the strange looking puffin. There's also a glacier just north of town (Exit Glacier?) where you can park and walk to it. So many national parks, the name is elusive, maybe Kenai Fjords.

Cordova. It's a blue collar town reached by Alaska State Ferry from either Valdez or Whittier. Bring your truck (you can rent a wreck there if you can locate the woman who rents them) because even though it will cost more, you will have a dependable vehicle. Drive out (about 45 miles) to the Child's Glacier along the Copper River and spend many hours just staring at it as it calves. You can't get closer to a calving glacier.

Kennicott mine. Part of Wrangell-St Elias NP, a lot of the old mining town is as it was when the mine closed in the '30's. There are a number of ways to get there—drive, van, fly. Best to read up on the various ways.

Eagle, once Alaska's largest town, hardly that now. On the Yukon R. and a long drive from Chicken. I wouldn't want to take the trailer north of the junction with the Boundary Rd. as the rest of the road has a gazillion blind curves and can be very narrow in places.

Brooks Range and North Slope. You can drive the entire Dalton Hwy, or go part way and stay at the Marion Creek CG just north of Coldfoot. Then drive through the Brooks Range and onto the North Slope, maybe going to Deadhorse.

Inuvik, NWT. A dirt and gravel road (Dempster Hwy) about 500 miles north of Dawson City. Beautiful and if it's raining, wait. Road turns to grease. They maintain it well, so it'll be re-graded right away. From Inuvik you can fly to the Arctic Ocean, Tuktoyaktuk on the McKenzie R. Delta and other places. There are several free ferries where you have to get on and off carefully so as not to injure trailer, but skid plates should help, especially with a Bambi.

Homer is well known. Take the boat trip across the bay to Halibut Cove, have a great lunch or dinner in a very unique little town, see birds too.

In Denali, get reservations at the campground furthest in—it's quieter and you'll save a lot of time on the busses because you are closer to everything. You buy one round trip on the bus and you get to use it everyday you are there for free after the first day.

Most of the campgrounds in Fairbanks are not good. Santaland in North Pole is the best with all amenities. There's a city park near downtown with very cheap spaces in a parking lot, but no amenities. There's a Chinese restaurant at the North Pole exit (just west on south side) that is very good.

Manley Hot Springs. I got loaded (that happens once every 10 years and only takes 3 beers) at the Roadhouse with locals, some Swiss tourists, a yodeling Indian woman who claimed to be an Eskimo princess and others. There is a hot spring, but we were being eaten by mosquitos so we didn't stay long.

Just north (a couple of miles) of the Yukon R. bridge on the Dalton Hwy, on the left, is the Hot Spot Cafe. Good food and insults are free.

Take Cassiar Hwy one way and Alaska Hwy the other. Side trip to Telegraph Creek (don't take trailer!) to a funky little town on the Stikine R. There are trips on river available. Another side trip is to Steward (Toaster Museum or Cafe—seems to have changed) and Hyder, Alaska.

If you are there late enough in the summer, you can see the Aurora some nights. A good place is Yellowknife, an interesting place in its own right. I don't think there are any RV facilities in NWT, but you can check on that. They may be visible along the Dempster Hwy and other place far north. September is dark enough and possibly late August.

Gene
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Old 01-07-2011, 06:48 PM   #4
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Thanks lots,

Pat: we must have been brought up in the same camping tradition! - we shy away from RV parks and seek out provincial, state or national parks whenever we can - we deviate from this on occasion - but not by choice. Our 1000 Yamaha is a piece of machinery that I fell in love with 5 years ago - we use it regularly - and we love getting to places we otherwise wouldn't if we did not have it. Our route to Alaska is up the Cassiar and back by the Alaska highway - and your endorsement of Hyder/Stewart is one we will take advantage of and look forward to!

Teklanika is incredibly attractive as a destination - this might sound kind dumb - but we've waffled on it pretty much daily because of rules around dogs - "Attica" goes everywhere we go - and we're not fussy about locking her in the trailer during a full day on the buses - I guess one choice is to board her out in town while we're in Teklanika - but we haven't come to that decision yet ..... I'm sure we will ... but what can I say ..... we inherited her from our oldest son ..... and ...... we're starting to think she's the closest we're ever going to get to a grandchild ..... she gets spoiled accordingly .... and I'm a wuss ....

Gene: this is exactly what we were looking for! We've always shied away from the "traps" and sought out the places most will not see - among other suggestions you've made I can see us making a choice to go to Manley Hot Springs - if only to hear about stories about a guy getting loaded on 3 beers!

I will be pasting this thread into our trip file - and will undoubtedly be following tracks already blazed by yourselves!

Thanks,



Jay
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:49 AM   #5
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Alaska

Don't miss the refreshing stop at Liard.

BC Parks - Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, Alaska Hwy, North British Columbia

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Old 01-08-2011, 03:44 AM   #6
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My wife and I are also dreaming of doing an Alaskan trip. My Parents did it in 1974 in a VW bus with me and 2 dogs. Drove from Sarnia Ontario to Fairbanks and the Kenai area. They then drove down the west coast to Baja. The thing that saved their bacon and made the trip easy and enjoyable was a book called "The Milepost". It is a mile by mile detailing the Alaskan Highway. It has been in print for many years and well worth the thirty dollars or so to buy it. The book has its own website...www.themilepost.com....check it out. Have a great trip!
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:08 PM   #7
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Jay, do you like Thai food? There's a good Thai/Asian restaurant in Skagway. We think it has "Star" in the name. The Chinese restaurant in North Pole is The Pagoda.

Teklanika is the campground I referred to. The town, often called Glitter Gulch, didn't look like there'd be a kennel, but I'm sure you'll check thoroughly.

The U. of Alaska has a very good museum in Fairbanks. Whitehorse has lots of stuff because it is the biggest town around. There are usually good restaurants there, though they seem to change often. There's a museum along the highway—it's about Beringia and is interesting. Watson Lake has a aurora borealis center which I though was overhyped for what they had. If you've seen the aurora, I think there's no need for this unless you want to take a nap (several of us did).

At Teslin, right after you cross the bridge going north, on the right is a gas station, etc. They have a small museum of stuffed wildlife. It's free.

Atlin: this is a side trip to a little town on a big lake. It's pretty there and few tourists to be seen. This is off the Alaska Hwy in Yukon and takes you south into the extreme NW corner of BC.

If you get to Chicken, Chicken Gold Camp is the better RV CG. Limited services, but a small restaurant and good people though overworked. It can be difficult to find boondocking sites in many remote places, so I mention the CG's.

We like Haines because it's not as touristy as Skagway. We found a decent Mexican food restaurant there and the Hammer Museum. The ex-mayor, Fred, runs a jewelry shop near the parade grounds of the former fort, and is an interesting character. You can take the fast ferry (private outfit, not the state ferry) to Juneau for a one day excursion and get to look around a bit. There's also a fast ferry to Skagway from Haines. Of course every time you enter the US you run the risk of being inspected by the US Fruit Police.

Homer—the restaurant we like best is the Fresh Sourdough Express—good natural good, very popular amongst locals. It's on the way to the spit on the left. I think there are RV spaces on the spit with minimal or no hookups.

I'm sure you've heard of the Top of the World Hwy. The views are spectacular between Dawson City and the border. Some say the road is awful, some say it's a typical gravel road. We last drove it in 2002 and the road was fine then. When in Dawson, there a road up to the Midnight Dome just outside of town—great view of the area from there, don't bring trailer although you could, just more work.

Chitina is a small town on the way to Kennicott. There are a few basic and primitive CG's. You can drive to the McCarthy footbridge but we were so tired of driving on narrow dirt roads we took a van. Tour books make the this road sound much worse than it is. There are also plane flights. McCarthy is very funky place. From there you take a small bus 5 miles to Kennecott (the mine and the town are spelled differently, I can't remember which is which). There are lodgings in Kennicott and McCarthy if you want to stay over. There is a semi-secret auto bridge into McCarthy, but only locals can use it.

Stewart is a very clean Canadian town. Hyder is a typical end of the road town. Since alcohol and cigarettes are much cheaper in Hyder, Canadians try to bring them back home and there is a vigilant Canadian customs station at the border to protect you from yourself. There's a bear viewing platform just past Hyder if you are there during the salmon run. Continue on that road many miles and you climb into the mountains crossing the border several times (no customs), passing some mines and finally coming to a place to see a glacier.

Gene
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:51 PM   #8
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Wow Gene - thanks so much - you really went above and beyond the call of duty here! - and yes - we've got a line on a dog kennel - looks like they might be the only one in the area - and pretty much specialize in offering services to folks doing exactly what we're doing - spending a few days in the Denali interior.

Thanks again,


Jay
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:11 PM   #9
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Side Trips, BC, Alberta

Hope this works.
SORRY, THIS DID NOT WORK, WILL TRY SOMETHING ELSE. STAND BY!!!!!

This is a PP show and may take a moment to load. All pictures in the the BC, Alberta district, and as you drive the area, you will recognize many of the shots. A lot of the scenes are viewed from the TCH, Yellowhead, and Ice Fields Parkway.

If you have never been to the ROCKIES, then this will hook you on making it a MUST GO TO area.
Bring you AIRSTREAM, and enjoy.
Dave
The above did not work so as a consolation prize try this link from Lake Louise.
YouTube - Lake Louise Views

If you would care to see the original PP show I will try forward it to you if you send me a PM.
Dave
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
Hope this works.
SORRY, THIS DID NOT WORK, WILL TRY SOMETHING ELSE. STAND BY!!!!!

This is a PP show and may take a moment to load. All pictures in the the BC, Alberta district, and as you drive the area, you will recognize many of the shots. A lot of the scenes are viewed from the TCH, Yellowhead, and Ice Fields Parkway.

If you have never been to the ROCKIES, then this will hook you on making it a MUST GO TO area.
Bring you AIRSTREAM, and enjoy.
Dave
The above did not work so as a consolation prize try this link from Lake Louise.
YouTube - Lake Louise Views

If you would care to see the original PP show I will try forward it to you if you send me a PM.
Dave

Thanks - great little clip - looks like you might have done some serious hiking that day! I'll send you a PM with my E-Mail address.


Jay
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerJay View Post
This is our Alaska year - the one we've been looking forward to since we first retired 10 years ago.

We're taking two months to complete the trip. Most of the major planning is done - our route is pretty typical - the major destinations are also typical. At this point the destinations where we will spend a fair bit of time are: Dawson City/Tombstone Territorial Park, Denali, Homer/Seward, Haines/Skagway. Most other stops are overnighters en route with perhaps an extra night if a minor destination.

Through another website we're getting a good (great) handle on dinner theatre and local performances.

But what we're missing - and wondering about - are those unsung side trips .... the "one-off" destinations, excursions or activities that don't make their way into the marketing brochures ..... that get you out of the tourist traps ..... that you'd never hear about unless you asked ..... and that can really contribute to that once-in-a-lifetime holiday .....

Looking forward to your advice.

Thanks,



Jay
Just want to let you know that I will be doing the same trip. Solo, of course. I plan to cross the border from Great Falls, MT into Alberta around June 1. I am also going to do some of the same stops. I plan to stay on the major routes--with the exception being Calgary to Jasper. Other than that, I will be traveling the main routes. This is my bucket list trip. Friends will be joining me at some destinations. They will be flying in to spend one or two weeks...but for the most part...I will be doing it solo. Maybe, we will cross pasts. I am reading the Milepost as we type. LOL! Have a safe trip.
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:07 AM   #12
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Just want to let you know that I will be doing the same trip. Solo, of course. I plan to cross the border from Great Falls, MT into Alberta around June 1. I am also going to do some of the same stops. I plan to stay on the major routes--with the exception being Calgary to Jasper. Other than that, I will be traveling the main routes. This is my bucket list trip. Friends will be joining me at some destinations. They will be flying in to spend one or two weeks...but for the most part...I will be doing it solo. Maybe, we will cross pasts. I am reading the Milepost as we type. LOL! Have a safe trip.
We're going to be running a bit behind you - not planning on leaving home till mid-July (ish) and back around mid-September (ish). I think I have pretty much memorized the website version of the Milepost - and have the 2011 print edition on order. We're really looking foreward to the trip - but those mid-winter temperatures and the amount of snow on top of the Bambi still make it feel a long way off!

Like others - we never pass an Airstream without an enthusiastic wave or frantic flashing of the lights - see you on the road.

Thanks,


Jay
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:37 PM   #13
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I didn't notice what months you were leaving, but if you have the chance go in July and August. Less skeeters and less rainy days. Also the Okanagan Valley in Canada is worth about 2 weeks stay. Of course, no guns, but pepper spray and a zapper can work.

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Old 02-06-2011, 04:48 PM   #14
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I didn't notice what months you were leaving, but if you have the chance go in July and August. Less skeeters and less rainy days.
But no-see-ums! How can you defend yourself when you can't see your torturer? I think their bites are worse than mosquitos. As the mosquitos die off, the no-see-ums show up—sometime in July.

Rain happens a lot. Of our 3 trips to Alaska and NW Canada, on 2 of them we have had weeks (and weeks and weeks) of rain. One was June and July, the other late August to early October. On the other it was sunny most of the time—that was from late May to early July.

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