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Old 12-01-2015, 07:18 PM   #1
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Alaska Caravan tour

I know this is probably the wrong forum but looking at the list of forums I didn't see one that applied. That said if it needs to be moved, feel free.

We are looking at a Fantasy Tours Alaskan caravan, specifically the "Alaska Your Way" which plans the route and pays the RV camping fees with a few group activities, but largely it's your on your own for daily activities. I like the idea that I'm not paying, or going, on tours and activities that don't interest us.

It's a 62 day caravan, leaves from the US and ends in BC. 35 days in AK in several spots. Travel is on your own or you can go in groups if desired.

Question is has anyone done one of these tours and what are their thoughts? Up side, down side. Since I live in AL, it's a big deal just to get to the start of this. Not yet a full timer and this will be a 4-5 month trip. Maybe I am a full timer and don't know it yet.

For those who have done this and survived, any suggestions for the trip such as a spare MH tire, equipment, tools, etc. Not sure if I'll flat tow the Ford F-150 or dolly tow the Ford Escape. The motorcycle will go on the Hydralift. Bike touring AK will be great. I'll have fresh service on all vehicles before departing so no oil changes enroute.

Appreciate comments from those who have made this or similar trips.
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:53 PM   #2
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Use the search feature to locate the many ongoing Alaska threads.
Personally if I were traveling as part of a caravan, I would be in a caravan for safety and security. Regular caravans have a tail-gunner who assists with problems a member has, makes sure no-one gets lost or needs roadside assistance of any kind.

From your description, I would prefer to not pay that caravan fee and instead find a few others driving to Alaska and make a small group (3-4) traveling together to look after each other.
You'll find several other options in the search result threads. If you are a veteran PM me and I'll offer a cheaper alternative to any for-profit tour company.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:24 PM   #3
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I know you asked about a caravan but here's another option.

Alaska is not difficult to do on your own. It's super easy to plan your route. Not many ways to go especially once you get on the Alaskan Highway.

Everyone goes to the same attractions. You'll meet up with many of the same folks time after time as you travel.

If you have vehicle problems people are so helpful along the way. You'll get the help needed. Even with a caravan they will not wait for you if you have to have servicing done. Yes, they might have a belt or filter on hand but those are things you can bring along for your specific vehicles.

The roads are paved for the most part. You'll come to areas of construction but then, you will also in the lower 48.

Three very helpful things you can purchase are the Milepost for maps and history along the way; Mike and Terri Church's book 'Alaskan Camping' which also includes Canada and the Yukon; and the 2/1 'TourSaver' coupon book. One glacier cruise will pay for the book and you'll want to do at least one.

RV parks are just large gravel lots, not resorts like some in the lower 48. However, there are many public parks to stay which are absolutely beautiful along with boondocking opportunities right along the highway. Those are the kinds of places we stayed.

You don't have to make any campground reservations except for perhaps what we did. We only made two reservations for the whole summer and we just made those a couple weeks prior when we could better judge when we'd be there. One was for the July 4 weekend. Alaskans like to camp, too. The other was for Denali Nat'l Park's farthest campground you can take an RV - Teklanika. We made it for 5 nights. However, we got into the area a little early so on a whim we boondocked at a scenic spot close to the park and the next morning we drove into Denali and easily secured an additional 5 nights in the front campground - Riley Creek for our 40' motorhome. We spent 10 nights in Denali and saw 'The' mountain 7 of 10 days along with every large animal living in the park. It was a fantastic experience. With a caravan you will have only 1 or 2 days for Denali and you'll be staying outside the park on a gravel parking lot and taking the bus ride one day. If you have bad weather you won't see the mountain and the animals won't be roaming around.

Another source you might want to consult is RV.net and go to the Alaska forum. There's an ongoing post of those planning to go in 2016. Also, at the top of the forum page is a 'Sticky' of Helpful Hints for the trip. It was compiled a couple years ago by those going that year. It will give you ideas on what to take, what to do and where to get the best cinnamon rolls!

Have fun planning!
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:19 PM   #4
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Good advice from twogypsies. I live in Alaska and have driven my RV or other vehicles up and down the Alaska Highway many times since the mid seventies. It is not a difficult trip at all and you might want to stop in any number of places to spend a day or two. There is one area in the Yukon that is very rough with construction but over all it is a pleasant drive. Personally I enjoy the whole trip once you get 125 miles north of Dawson Creek BC as it becomes less lower 48 and more what I consider to be like home. In the Yukon and BC if you drive in the evening hours which are light anyway you will probably see a LOT of wildlife.
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:47 PM   #5
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Just did 100 days in Alaska this summer. We did it alone - no caravan. Only way to go! No problems at all. Found accommodations every night. Roads were fine - rough, yes but been on worse in lower 48. We went where we wanted, when we wanted, slept in when we wanted to. We did a Adventure Caravan to Nova Scotia last summer and loved it. But we wanted freedom to do our thing. You will have no regrets on your own. You will be around the caravans anyway! If you feel you are missing something, follow them!
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:42 PM   #6
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Many say forget the caravan and do it on your own. That works well for many people, but there are people who prefer the caravan option, for many reasons. Since you asked about caravans, and Fantasy RV Caravans in particular, I'll sort of address that:

While we haven't done their Alaska caravans (yet) we have done their Washington DC caravan (this past April), and did 2 other trips with their predecessor - Creative World Travels - and they are a first-rate company. The wagonmasters and tailgunners are top-notch people and the RVers you will meet will become friends by the time the first night's welcome meeting is ended. I believe if you're an FMCA member you'll get a discount on the cost as well!
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:16 AM   #7
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Made the trip 3 times once with WIT and twice on our own. We preferred the trips on our own. Re: bike touring, the roads we toured to see the best sites were mostly dirt or cinders. These we did with our tow car after we settled in at a location. Looking back, I cant think of many side trips I would want to be on a bike with. The main roads are no problem but on these roads you will be traveling in your coach. But that's just my thoughts.
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Old 12-03-2015, 12:43 PM   #8
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We did Alaska last June & July - no caravan, but there were two trailers. We only did reservations for Teklanika in Denali. Good that we did - there were signs at the park entrance that all campgrounds were filled, although there were a number of empty sites throughout our 4 day stay at Teklanika. I suspect the low cost of reservations had many that didn't show up.

One additional handy item along with those the twogypsies suggested. Stop at the visitor center in Dawson Creek (the start of the Alaskan Highway) and ask for the campground & fuel stop list. It is fairly up-to-date, free, and shows stops by the mileposts.

Lastly, pay attention to the cones & flags that indicate frost heaves!
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Old 12-03-2015, 07:56 PM   #9
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My brother drove out to Washington state from Kentucky in June a couple years ago and we did a two RV caravan to Alaska. I had been to Alaska twice before, once on my motorcycle, and once on our boat, so had an idea what it was like. Take plenty time to plan and research Alaska. The roads are paved (except for construction areas) and are very rough in some places, particularly from Whitehorse, YT to the Alaska border. You should consider taking the Alcan from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks, then down to Anchorage, visiting Denali on the way, and on to Homer and/or Seward. We intentionally did not take any of the unpaved gravel roads - too many stories from RVers that had made the trip and said they wouldn't do it again and were not excited that they did it the first time!

During our trip, we passed many caravan companies that were covering the same route that we were. As stated in other posts, get a copy of the magazine "Mileposts", along with other see-Alaska type books. It's a great trip and doable on your own, or with a small group.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:00 PM   #10
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I appreciate the many helpful replies. The more I read and research, doing it ourselves seems the best way. This past fall we did a 2 month to Maine and the Maritime in Canada. We made some advance planning a few weeks in advance, others were a day or so ahead. We managed fine.

Looking at the caravan itinerary they stay 2-4 days in places which doesn't seem to be enough time to see things especially with weather thrown in. When you go to AZ you can count on good weather, hot but good. That part of the world will have more storms and rain. We have 2-3 other couples that we might have traveled with so we'll see if a self generated "convoy" is to their interest.

This AK trip will be 4-5 months when we throw in CA, OR and WA. Then returning through MN, WI, MI etc. I reckon that by planning it ourselves we can fund many of the side tours that we would have paid extra for anyway. Besides we may get someplace we really like and want to stay a couple weeks or longer. No decision made yet so please keep the comments and suggestions coming.

Right now thinking about leaving the big motorcycle home and maybe put the Fatboy in the bed of the truck. The touring bike does NOT like dirt roads but I'm not sure I want to be "bike less".
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Old 12-04-2015, 12:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drwwicks View Post
I appreciate the many helpful replies. The more I read and research, doing it ourselves seems the best way. This past fall we did a 2 month to Maine and the Maritime in Canada. We made some advance planning a few weeks in advance, others were a day or so ahead. We managed fine.

Looking at the caravan itinerary they stay 2-4 days in places which doesn't seem to be enough time to see things especially with weather thrown in. When you go to AZ you can count on good weather, hot but good. That part of the world will have more storms and rain. We have 2-3 other couples that we might have traveled with so we'll see if a self generated "convoy" is to their interest.

This AK trip will be 4-5 months when we throw in CA, OR and WA. Then returning through MN, WI, MI etc. I reckon that by planning it ourselves we can fund many of the side tours that we would have paid extra for anyway. Besides we may get someplace we really like and want to stay a couple weeks or longer. No decision made yet so please keep the comments and suggestions coming.

Right now thinking about leaving the big motorcycle home and maybe put the Fatboy in the bed of the truck. The touring bike does NOT like dirt roads but I'm not sure I want to be "bike less".
One thought about taking a mcycle along for touring: There's not a lot of places to "tour" on your mcycle. You are much better off using your toad for that purpose. And, depending on the time of year you go up, the weather can be a BIG factor in getting around on two wheels. When two buddies and I mcycled up, there were several times we wished we had 4 wheels. Also, it can be problematic finding repair parts and a place that knows how to work on a particular brand of mcycle. one of my my buddies had a fuel pump go bad on his Suzuki Cavalcade about 180 miles from Whitehorse, YT. It cost him $300 to get a local resident with a pick-up truck to haul it to Whitehorse where he had to buy an automotive fuel pump and duct tape it to the side of the bike. The other buddy had a flat on the rear of his GL1500 Goldwing and he wound up buying a Harley tire for $350 and spent two days finding a shop that knew how to remove and mount the new tire.

Just my $0.02 worth.
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:18 PM   #12
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We plan to go up next June for the summer. Boon-dock at my sis-n-law in North Pole and hit other parts of AK. till Labor Day. A earlier poster said only making reservations at Teklanika ( Denali ) How far ahead did you make that reservation? I plan on doing that one too.
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:21 PM   #13
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We made reservations for 5 nights at Teklanika which is the farthest campground you can drive to in Denali about two weeks prior for a mid-August stay. As stated in my above post, we also stayed an additional 5 nights without reservations in the front campground Riley Creek. We drove in early morning to get that site. There is plenty to do in both areas of the park.

It's also advisable that if you stay at Teklanika to purchase the TEK bus pass. This will allow you to take the tour bus as many times as you want during your stay. Sometimes we'd go out for the whole day; other times just a few hours in the morning or toward evening. The buses run continuously so you can easily catch the next one coming by. This is the best way to get a chance to see more animals and 'The' mountain.
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
We made reservations for 5 nights at Teklanika which is the farthest campground you can drive to in Denali about two weeks prior for a mid-August stay. As stated in my above post, we also stayed an additional 5 nights without reservations in the front campground Riley Creek. We drove in early morning to get that site. There is plenty to do in both areas of the park.

It's also advisable that if you stay at Teklanika to purchase the TEK bus pass. This will allow you to take the tour bus as many times as you want during your stay. Sometimes we'd go out for the whole day; other times just a few hours in the morning or toward evening. The buses run continuously so you can easily catch the next one coming by. This is the best way to get a chance to see more animals and 'The' mountain.
2X on the bus passes. As to our reservations, we made them in December for a July stay, however as others have stated, you don't need to do it quite that early.
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