Alaska Highway through Canada

Old Feb 7th, 2022, 11:28 AM
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Alaska Highway through Canada

Planning a drive from Alaska through Canada to Colorado in May. We have a camper van and plan to see Jasper, Banff, and Glacier along the way. What advice do you have? How much time to spend? We are hikers and recognize the weather can be iffy. We also live in Colorado and understand the mountains. Besides the big parks, what sights do you recommend? We usually drive 5-6 hours/day. Open to any ideas, knowledge you might offer.
Kathleen
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Old Feb 8th, 2022, 10:41 AM
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First of all... The Alaska highway is not like... urban San Francisco, where IF you find yourself wide awake late in the evening as you pass through central S.F., you can find a place to stay in Burlingame, or in Palo Alto, or San Jose (whenever you start to feel sleepy).

I'm sure the camper gives you more freedoms than are shared by most that way, but if you want amenities... you have to STAY in one of the few spots that have them. (so you plot your daily progress based on those few-ish opportunities)

I felt that the most scenic area of the whole drive was around Kluane Lake in the Yukon... just... west... of White Horse.

The single most amusing moment on my drive there was... after hours and hours of zero radio reception, I finally got within an hour of White Horse... where precisely ONE radio station would come in on the rental car radio... and they were WASTING it on a simulcast of the town's BINGO night!!!

(the worst part was that I paused there (on the dial) to listen to it for a bit) .

Any place with water nearby tends to present impressive scenery... and of course you may come around a bend in the road and see a giant herd of Bison in your path.

I WISH I could offer you ideas from a hiker's perspective... oh, I just thought of something else... Banff and Jasper and the like are gorgeous... BUT when you've just come from Alaska, their splendor is greatly reduced by contrast (which is simply... sad) (cuz if you'd come from Saskatchewan, Banff, Jasper and surrounds would be entirely awe-inspiring).

You will spend hours and hours in places where it is just you, the road you're on, and thick forest all around in every direction... and I suspect that your own hiker's intuition will present you with various spots to stop and at least look around.

Definitely pause in Watson Lake, YK, to look all around at the sign post forest there.


My round-trip up and back was in early April... and two aspects of my timing that I really liked were

A - Unlike on roads in the lower 48... where you round a bend, and see spectacular scenery immediately, only to see a sign that says: "Scenic turnout 800 feet ahead" (where you get there only to find that the view from that spot is markedly less spectacular than what you saw at first)... there were SO few cars on the highway, and it was SO quiet that you'd be able to hear the next vehicle from 5 miles away... which allowed that I could stop right in the middle of the highway and get the precise photo I wanted.

B - Nearly all of the lakes were still frozen, which prrrrrrrrrrrOBABLY added scenic appeal to the photos and views.


I didn't know WHAT to expect in terms of road conditions, but only about 30 miles of 2400-ish had snow/ice on the roadway when I went.

I love that when there is a "bump" in the road (of which there are many!)... they put a little flag RIGHT AT the "bump" spot... (which is better than thinking that little jiggle you just felt must've been the 'bump'... and then bottoming-out when the real "BUMP" arrived)

DO NOT go on that trip WITHOUT HAVING THE MILEPOST guide/magazine in your possession... it covers SO much... and it might be best for you to review that thoroughly before even arriving here with whatever questions remain.

Several years ago I happened upon a young German couple who were planning a fairly spontaneous addition to their North American visit, which was driving to Alaska... and they were getting ready to buy local maps, and seeming very unfamiliar with the magnitude of the task. But I talked them out of buying the maps, instead sending them to a place nearby where they could buy the Milepost... for $35 or $40... and they returned with Milepost in hand and thankful that I'd guided them.

I sense that with your camper and your interest in hiking, it will be your own spontaneity which will make or break your trip. With SO MUCH territory to pass through between the AK/Can border and the (Montana? Idaho?) borders... there will be plenty of opportunity to do all the hiking you could possibly want.


Hope this is some small start...
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Old Feb 9th, 2022, 10:25 AM
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Oh, thank you for taking the time to respond. Yes, I've ordered the 2022 Milepost. Planning ahead is definitely called for, which is why I was looking for input for people who have driven this area. Appreciate your experience.
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Old Feb 12th, 2022, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by klandres View Post
Oh, thank you for taking the time to respond. Yes, I've ordered the 2022 Milepost. Planning ahead is definitely called for, which is why I was looking for input for people who have driven this area. Appreciate your experience.
How are you planning on getting TO Alaska with your camper van between now and May? My only trip to Alaska was flying to Anchorage and renting a car. and flying back.
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Old Feb 12th, 2022, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by klandres View Post
Oh, thank you for taking the time to respond. Yes, I've ordered the 2022 Milepost. Planning ahead is definitely called for, which is why I was looking for input for people who have driven this area. Appreciate your experience.

Why don't you await the arrival of the Milepost, and ... go over it as much as any planner can delve in... and then narrow your scope of any remaining questions and bring more specific questions to the troops here at Fodors...

(those questions will probably be more specific than I could answer, BUT among the masses, there are probably others who can assist you a great deal once you pinpoint what smaller interests are still somewhat unclear)


LOL - while staying at one of the hotels in Whitehorse, I THOUGHT I had landed myself in a world of bedbugs... (as I sat, beneath the covers, with the lights on, and watching TV there, feeling small bite-like pains on my legs every so often). At some point I decided to resign myself to my fate, and I turned off the TV and then the lights...

Only to observe in short order that with each subsequent bite-like pain, came a flash of vivid light/static/electricity from beneath the covers!!!

The climate there was so dry that something unique to my world was to blame.

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Old Feb 13th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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We are booked on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry. Taking the ferry through the Inside Passage and getting off in Haines, Alaska.
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