2018 Road Trip To Alaska

Reply

Dec 3rd, 2017, 09:29 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
2018 Road Trip To Alaska

Hi All,

We are planning a 2018 road trip from Phoenix to Alaska. Exact dates have not been determined, so we are looking for suggestions. We are open to traveling during the months of June-September, but assume July/August would be the best months. We’d like to be gone under 30 days, but are open to suggestions to extend the trip. We will be driving our 2014 Toyota Prius and will be staying in motels throughout the trip. We also plan to take a 7-14 day round-trip cruise out of Seattle in 2019 with my brother, so this trip will be mostly to see the interior between Fairbanks and the Anchorage-Homer-Seward triangle as well as some sea activities we might not see on whichever cruise we pick. We’ve looked through a 2017 edition of MilePost from the library and have pretty much planned the routes we will be taking up and back. We plan to buy the 2018 edition when it comes out in March. The thing I’m most unsure of at this point are how far we can expect to drive each day, where it’s worthwhile to stop for more than just an overnight stay and any sights we shouldn’t miss along the way. We're mostly interested in information on the part of the trip through Canada. Obviously, the routes are not set in stone, so suggestions there are also welcome. We are 65/70, so we’re mostly interested in sightseeing/photo ops we can get to by car or short walks from the roadway. Longer walks are okay, but my wife can’t hike due to her knees.

Anyway, I’ve separated the trip into 3 sections; the drive up, the drive around Alaska and the drive back. The cities cited are for Google Maps/Bing Maps routing purposes only, not necessarily for overnight stops.

Section 1:
Phoenix AZ -- Malmstrom AFB MT -- Banff AB area -- Hinton AB -- Dawson Creek BC -- Watson Lake YT -- Dawson YT -- Tok AK

Note: Google Maps will not let you drive directly from Dawson to Tok because the road is closed in winter.
Q: Is it advisable to drive un summer? If not, we would go from Watson Lake to Tok and bypass Dawson.

Section 2:
Tok AK – Fairbanks AK – Anchorage AK – Homer AK – Seward AK – Wrangell-St Elias National Park AK – Tok AK

Q: Worth taking gravel road to McCarthy? Day trip or overnight?
Q: Worth going to Valdez?

Section 3:
Tok AK – Watson Lake YT – Stewart BC – Hyder AK – Prince George BC – Hells Gate BC – Osoyoos BC – Phoenix AZ

Note: May bypass Hells Gate because we will be driving that in 2019.

There you have it. Our hotel preference is the Choice Hotels chain, but we are open to suggestions for local hotels comparable to Comfort Inns and not opposed to lower priced motels comparable to Econo Lodge/Days Inn based on Trip Advisor reviews. We’ve visited Toronto, Montreal, Algonquin Park and Vancouver in the past, all by car, so we’re familiar with driving in Canada. We know to be vigilant for wildlife and we know to dress in layers, but we’re not sure if we need to bring anything special with us. We do not carry weapons.

Thanks for any and all guidance.

Cheers, Dave

NOTE: I also posted this in the Canada forum, but it was recommended that I also post it here because those who have the kind of information I'm looking for frequent this forum.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 3rd, 2017, 02:46 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,516
Go to this site:

http://www.themilepost.com

Get this publication before you go.
emalloy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 4th, 2017, 10:18 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
Thanks, I've been to the site, read through the 2017 edition of the publication and will buy the 2018 edition when it comes out in March. Using the site and maps there, I've been able to determine the routes we plan to take. However, I'm trying to find out if there's something we should plan to stop for on the way up and back. So far, I've been told it's mostly highway lined with trees with the occasional photo op. It's also been suggested that we stop at the Billy Barker Casino Hotel in Quesnel vice Prince George, check out Barkerville, Kluane Lake, Hyder/Stewart and to start our journey though Banff/Jasper from Canmore.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 4th, 2017, 10:44 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,522
About 15 miles north of Dawson Creek on the Alaska Highway - take the short detour over to look at the Kiskatinaw Curved Wooden Bridge. It's quite a sight. You can walk across it, too.

http://celebratealaskahighway.com/se...atinaw-bridge/
sludick is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 4th, 2017, 06:41 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,851
I did an RV trip thatvwent from Iowa tobAlaska. We did about 300 miles per day. Click on my name and find the trip report I wrote
bigtyke is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 5th, 2017, 06:46 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,724
I think you're being very optimistic on how much ground you can cover in the time you have. It might look okay on paper, but in real time you need to factor in things like road construction, unplanned but very rewarding stops to see wildlife or other unexpected things, and just the chance to linger...

It's not clear if you plan to stay in Banff during your pass through the Rockies, nor how long you plan to stay in the various places. Absent a sense of whether your style is zoom-zoom vs. stop and smelling roses, I'd be concerned that adhering to a 30-day timetable would lead you to having to cut out big chunks of the trip in order to keep up the overall pace.

To be frank (and there are plenty of people who will disagree) I don't find the Alcan (or the Cassiar) to be all that special in terms of scenery. Oh, they're scenic enough, but with Alaska/Yukon travel the question to ask is, "What else could I do with those days?" A day driving through the forest in northern BC could be spent seeing whales in Prince William Sound, or in a drift boat fishing for salmon on the Kenai River, or even driving out into the tundra near Nome, maybe encountering muskoxen or bears on the side of the road.

So if it was me (and it's not) I'd start with doing a spreadsheet or some such comparing the "big" options before tweaking day-by-day plans for a road trip. I'd apply some serious cost projections that include fly/drive plans, or a one-way ferry or auto shipping plan, or other alternatives alongside the all-driving plan you currently have.

Not suggesting this per se, but here's an imaginary alternate plan to analyze.

Fly to Whitehorse (around $260) and rent a car. Drive up to Dawson and back to Whitehorse, drop the car, then take the short bus/train combo over to Skagway and take the short ferry ride south to Juneau. Fly up to Anchorage ($170) and pick up a second car there for land touring around Alaska. Fly home from Anchorage; if you want to stop in Seattle en route, most of Alaska Airlines' fares allow a free stopover.

Now this is a major departure from your plan, but in cost terms it might be pretty competitive. Yes, you'll have to pay for airfare and rental car costs, but you'll need far fewer nights' accommodations, wear and tear on your vehicle, and most importantly you'll be filling your days with adventure and scenery rather than long (and I mean l-o-n-g) drives through the woods. I'd do the numbers, just sayin'.

On other fronts...

- You don't need to buy a 2018 copy of the Milepost if you already have the 2017 version. (My own view is that this is something of a scam - things just don't change enough from one year to the next.)

- The drive to Valdez is absolutely "worth it." The drive over Thompson Pass past Worthington Glacier is one of the most scenic lengths of highway in North America, maybe the world (IMO.)

- If you DO drive your own vehicle (or rent one in Alaska or the Yukon that allows gravel roads) then the Top of the World Highway (Dawson < > Tetlin/Tok) is very scenic but slow going.

- If you're visiting Dawson I don't know how many more old mining towns you need; I'd put McCarthy in the "maybe" column. There are atmospheric old near-ghost towns in several more convenient locations.

My final comment is one that doesn't suit many people, but I'll throw it out. In a car you can see a lot in the north, but you're going to be limited to a road system that covers a tiny fraction of the country. If your time and budget allow (and you might be surprised how budget-friendly it can be) I'd strongly urge you to get off the road system and up into the air at some point. A few days in the arctic or subarctic - Kotzebue and/or Nome, for example, or even out to Kodiak or the Aleutians - will reveal a world overlooked by 90% or more of visitors. It can be a real eye-opening experience, one that I'd urge you to explore if at all possible.
Gardyloo is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2017, 09:53 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
sludick - thanks, I will add the curved bridge to our list.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2017, 09:54 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
bigtyke - I will look that over, thanks.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2017, 10:41 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
Gardyloo - thanks so much for your comments. I thought I was clear that the destinations I listed are only for the purpose of defining the routes we're going to take and not distances we intend to drive each day. I had to select those locations to get Google to route us the way I want to go up and back. I'm looking for suggestions on where to stop and where to stop for more than 1 night, if any. Also, we're not limited to 30 days. We're retired, so there is no timetable and we're willing to leave earlier so we have plenty of time to do the things we can by car. I realize we could fly, etc., but I love driving and we've been doing road trips exclusively since I retired in 2009. When I can no longer drive, then we'll consider flying again.

We're going back to both the Banff area and various ports in Alaska in 2019 though, so we don't want to duplicate what we plan to do then, like Juneau and Skagway. We don't want to spend several days in the Banff/Jasper area this trip because we intend to do that in 2019. The reason for going through Banff this trip though is to get a feel for how much time we might want to spend there in 2019.

As for the "other fronts":
The 2017 Milepost was from the library, so that's why I intend to buy the 2018 edition to take with us. I could probably buy a copy of the 2017 edition though and save a few bucks.

I will add Valdez to the list, thanks.

Google won't let me route the Top of the World Highway because it's closed this time of year, but Bing Maps says it's a 4.5 hour drive, so it looks like I should plan a whole day for that segment.

When it comes to McCarthy, we were wondering about it because we watch the series on TV and thought it might be a scenic area. Phlash Phelps on SiriusXM satellite radio mentioned Wrangell-St Elias area, but I haven't checked back with him to find out specifically where he meant. I just saw McCarthy is in that area, but it's not a priority.

I was hoping someone would suggest sightseeing flights that are worthwhile, so I'll look into Nome and Kodiak. We don't have a fear of flying or anything like that, we just like to travel by car as much as possible, even if flying would be cheaper and quicker.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2017, 11:35 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,724
I'm glad know your timing is flexible, and apologies if I assumed you were routing via Banff etc. in order to spend time there.

Miscellaneous -

- Definitely a whole day for the TOTW Highway.

- Flightseeing is pricey but generally very worthwhile. There are times, however, when flying on scheduled services is more cost-effective and can still deliver good value.

- Nome: Look here: http://www.alaska.org/destination/nome/scenic-drives and http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...ewardpeninsula . You'd have to park your own car in Anchorage while you travel up there, but the all-in cost (airfare, local rental vehicle, accommodation) would probably end up cheaper than some flightseeing excursion out of Anchorage or Talkeetna. Nome would certainly qualify as an historic mining town, but one with a lot more going on (including its own TV show, "Bering Sea Gold") than McCarthy.
Gardyloo is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 7th, 2017, 11:47 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
Gardyloo - I should have spelled out my plans for Banff in 2019 better, so no need to apologize. I don't want to do too much before we get to Alaska because going to Banff is something we can do fairly easily any time and driving to Alaska is a one-time thing.

And you're right about sightseeing flights, so I understand what you're saying when you suggest we just take a regular flight to Nome and then rent a car. I need to look at the cruise ports of call again to see if my wife would rather fly to Kodiak vs Nome, though I didn't realize Nome had those scenic drives. Thanks for the links, we intend to spend plenty of our time driving around the Seward peninsula. And we haven't watched Bering Sea Gold, so I set a One Pass and I'll check OnDemand to see if any past episodes are available.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 7th, 2017, 11:55 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
Gardyloo - sorry, I misunderstood the reference to the Seward peninsula, I was thinking Seward the city on the Kenai peninsula.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 4th, 2018, 03:44 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
Gardyloo and others,

I've been doing some work on the part of my Alaska trip itinerary that covers from Peoria AZ to Tok AK. Here are the stops I've tentatively identified, but I think I have too many. I'm pretty set on the portion from Peoria to Hinton because I'd like the extra time from Canmore through the Banff/Jasper area. It's after that where I think I have too many stops planned. For example, can I skip the stop in Dawson Creek and continue on to Fort Nelson? It would be 9:49 (565mi) and that is what we usually drive on our trips in the lower 48, but I don't know if we can make it that far in Canada. The others seem short, but I couldn't find motels at other places along the route that weren't even shorter or too far. As always, thanks for any advice.

Day
01 – 9:21 (610mi) to Sleep Inn, Provo UT
02 – 8:56 (623mi) to Malmstrom AFB MT
03 – 6:17 (389mi) to Quality Resort, Canmore AB
04 – 4:40 (238mi) to Quality Inn, Hinton AB
05 – 4:57 (284mi) to Comfort Inn, Dawson Creek BC
06 – 4:52 (281mi) to Woodlands Inn & Suites, Fort Nelson BC
07 – 6:46 (320mi) to A Nice Motel, Watson Lake YT
08 – 5:36 (291mi) to Sundog Retreat, Whitehorse YT
09 - 7:18 (387mi) to Young’s Motel, Tok AK
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2018, 05:42 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
We decided to skip Banff/Jasper until next year and with some help in the Canada forum and You Tube videos, I think I have the first leg to Tok set with overnight stops in Whitecourt, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake and Whitehorse. Now I'm going to work on stops in Alaska with the help I've been given here and more You Tube videos. We've watched videos for trips taken from May through the end of September and have kind of settled on mid-June for our trip. So far, our planned motel stops in Alaska include Fairbanks (Eielson/Ft Wainright), Denali, Anchorage (Emendorf), Homer and Valdez. Have no idea how much time to spend at each.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2018, 09:00 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,851
I would get the latest copy of the Milepost. Even then some infomwill be out of date. A couple of gas stations listed in our copy ( the latest ) were out of business when we drove by. I'm glad we had filled up earlier.
bigtyke is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2018, 04:40 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 57
The 2018 edition has been ordered and will be shipped as soon as it is released in March.
DoubleDAZ is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:08 AM.