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Old 08-04-2015, 03:07 PM   #1
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Planning CA to Alaska via Or, Wa and BC

Hi...
My family and I are planning a trip from SoCal up to BC mid August. We have a 2002 Holiday Rambler in pretty good condition (tends to run hot on lots of hills) and are trying to determine the best route based on dangerous roads (coastal) and length of time. (We don't have a set schedule but would like to get there sooner than later to take advantage of the last of the warmer weather). We want to focus more on BC and Alaska rather than WA and OR so we are looking for the best options for the latter states if we only have time for a few stops. Does anyone have information on best roads/best route, weather and road conditions, campgrounds (national or state) general info or must see and do's? We will probably limit our US stops to the educational or absolute don't miss places.
We are traveling with our two children (9 &5) as well as our dog. So these are items to consider!
We were thinking the 5 and sea to sky highway into Alaska after Vancouver... But we really have no idea where to start or what to see in BC. We would also like to know if there are any known events or festivals happening in areas around our travel time through September especially things like where to be during autumnal equinox or to see the northern lights...or even just good ol fashion Funtime festivals /fairs or cultural events. Pretty much..whatever you know...please share! Thank you so much!
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:11 PM   #2
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Here's a great place to start:

The MILEPOST: Alaska Travel Guide and Trip Planner

It will provide you with a mile-by-mile description of the road and things to do along the way.

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Old 08-04-2015, 03:41 PM   #3
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If you wanna spend less time driving and more time to explore AK and BC then you are best to just run right up the I-5. The 101 is a nice drive but its slow, and with the hills and turns burns alot of fuel.

Hop of the I 5 and head north. When you hit Bellingham Wa hang a right onto the 539. This will take you to Sumas, Wa. Its a small boarder town. I have never had to wait more then 10 minutes to cross here. If you take the main I 5 crossing it could be a few hours.
Once across the boarder after like 2 blocks you will see the Canada Highway 1. Hope a right on there. Once you hit the 97 turn left. Unless you wanna detour and go thru the big cities in BC.
After a good while on the 97 you will have a choice at Prince George. You can go left on the 16 and take the Cassiar or keep going on the 97 for now. The cassiar is about 70 miles shorter then the other way. but its slower and fuel is more expensive in the smaller towns. If you stay on the 97 in Dawson you have to hang a left to stay on the 97 headed north. Jsut after Fort Nelson you take another left headed west to stay on the 97. This will take you thru one of my favorite places, Liard. At Watson lake you will have another choice. stay on the 97 that now turns into the "Alaska Highway 1" or go right for the 4. the drive on the 4 is fun if you wanna take your time and hand out on a few off the path lakes. if you stay on the alaska highway you will cruise thru teslin and whitehorse in no time. The 4 and the alaska highway meet back up in Carmacks. If you take the 4 know now you will either have to backtrack to white horse to get back on the alaska highway. Or keep going north on the 2 and take the "top of the world highway" This takes you thru Dawson and requires a ferry ride across the river and some quite narrow hillside roads. If you take the alaska highway its a breeze thru destruction bay and beaver creek. Then you will be at the AK boarder.

I highly recommend the Mile Post. I have this drive atleast once every other year for the last 14 years. And buy a new copy every time. They update all the info every edition and no matter how many times I have made this trip, I always learn/see something new.
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Old 08-04-2015, 07:18 PM   #4
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Imurphy907, has some good information. We also travel to the 'lower 48' every other year and if I want to make time, we travel from Hope BC to Cache Creek, Dawson Creek, FT Nelson, Haines Junction, Beaver Creek then to Alaska. On the way up stop at Watson Lake an see all of the license plates in one of the centers. At Muncho Lake, there is a nice log lodge there that is also worth looking at. If you have time stop at Laird hot springs. In the section of road, between Burwash landing and Beaver Creek, take your time as the road is just a 'little' rough here. Once you get into Alaska and go to Fairbanks, stop at the museum at UAF. It is well worth going through. A side trip to Chena Hot springs can be fun/interesting. Then depending on what you plan on from there, there is lots to do.
Have a safe trip and have fun!
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Old 08-04-2015, 07:43 PM   #5
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Posts 3 & 4 are good advice. Choices, Choices, Lots to see.
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:30 PM   #6
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Posts 3 & 4 are the routes we took - crossing Washington at Sumas.

Are you planning to leave mid-August of THIS year? This is late to begin your trip to Alaska. Things close down after Labor Day and the weather can ease into winter in September....or it could be nice. However, plan on not finding some parks open on your return and drive on the top half of your tank. Don't try to wait and see if you can get a better price. Many stations close down when their summer fuel runs out.

Good luck!
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Old 08-05-2015, 08:45 AM   #7
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Yeah I thought the same. Kind of late, but doable with planning. I wouldn't worry about seeing things in BC til on your way back. SoCal to Anchorage is about 3,500 miles one way, no little trip around the block. Keep in mind also you won't be high tailing it on the Alaska hiway, and daylight will be getting shorter. Depending on how you drive, it'll probably take you anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks. And probably the latter, if not longer. We've done the trip twice, but never this late of a start. We were usually starting our trip south about the third week of Aug. My advise would be wait til next year and start north in May. There's sooo much to see & do to be rushed. Good luck. It's a trip that leaves you wanting more.
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Old 08-05-2015, 10:14 PM   #8
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On the 27th I am flying to Texas to pick up a new truck and 5th wheel. I don't anticipate any issues on the way home.
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Old 08-05-2015, 10:59 PM   #9
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Welcome to iRV2.
As others have said you're leaving kind of late in the season , Northern BC & the Yukon have had the last of the warmer weather for the year. The good news is that the storms in the last week have helped ease the wildfire situation in that part of the province. Still tinder dry here in the south with most areas with a camp fire ban.
For info on bringing pets into Canada visit this site.
Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) - Plants - Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Click the " Travelers " drop box on the left side of the page.
Just for your information , B.C. is over twice the size of CA. and the roads north to south aren't freeways, so travel is considerably slower.
Using the Sea to Sky as a start off route on the trip north could cost you a days travel easily, because to get from the border to the start of that highway means travel through the biggest metro area in western Canada.
If there was a way for me to avoid driving in Vancouver , I'd take it in a heartbeat. The Sea to Sky is a mountain road, really most every road in B.C. is a mountain road, if your coach has a heating problem , there are a lot of roads in B.C. that could kill it.
JMHO: Fix that heating problem before you leave.


EDIT: For more info including weather .
http://www.drivebc.ca/
http://www.511yukon.ca/
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Old 08-08-2015, 09:28 AM   #10
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Great advice

Thanks for all the great advice. It all seems to be within the range of what we
We're planning good to know we weren't too far off of things! The links and info are perfect!!! Thanks again so much...keep it coming because we can never have too much info!!
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Old 08-08-2015, 11:19 AM   #11
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tlynt, We traveled to Alaska in 2012 starting north from Glacier and returning through Seattle. Hope it gives you ideas for your travels. We also used Adventure videos to help our planning ideas. Below is their web site.

RV Adventure Videos with John Holod Productions

Safe travels and THE JOY IS IN THE RIDE
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Old 08-09-2015, 05:30 PM   #12
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Thanks again, everyone...we've played around with all the info and decided we will only go as far as Kechikan, AK. Soooo...my question is now...does anyone have any further advice on getting to Kechikan? Travel routes? We are considering making the actual stay in kechikan just an overnighter...so if you have any suggestions on what might be the best thing to do as far as park the coach in a safe place instead of paying the high ferry fees for such a short visit. Also, is it best (or is it our only option) to go in through Prince George or can we drive straight to Prince Rupert and take ferry from there? If we cut our trip this way we can still see some of Alaska without risking the bad weather yet still take some time to visit BC. We just won't go too far North (or west)! I guess we will save that for another year! Any new info you might have to offer is, as always, GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:54 PM   #13
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Just a quick thought, not so much on places but roadways.
Get your coach height , and convert the measurement into metric, then post that number on your dash board.
Nothing worse for a first time traveler through Canada, to see signage that's only in metric for a low clearance , and not know if you will clear or not.
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Old 08-09-2015, 10:29 PM   #14
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Several years ago, we did an Alaska trip via Prince George and Prince Rupert. The Marine Highway stopped briefly in Ketchikan. We exited for a few days in Juneau, then continued to Haines. After visiting Anchorage and Fairbanks, we cam back the AlCan.

If you don't want to go through Prince George about 1000 miles from Seattle), there is a ferry from the north end of Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert. you can get to Vancouver Island from Anacortes WA or a couple of ports in BC.

If your main destination is Ketchikan, you might consider leaving the RV in Bellingham and taking the Marine Highway from there. You will trade some very scenic areas of BC for the gorgeous views of the inside passage.

Lots of options depending on time and budget.
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