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Old 10-29-2015, 02:11 PM   #1
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Recent Alaska Travel?

We are going to make our first trip to Alaska next summer. I've heard all the horror stories about the road conditions for the last several years, but have heard that they have improved greatly in recent years. The reason for my question, we have a motorhome that is not quite a year old and I've been shopping for new pickup for a toad. My wife is worried about both vehicles, so I may be holding off buying a new pickup until we get back next summer.

I would like to hear from some that have made the trip this summer as to what the roads were like.


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Old 10-29-2015, 02:15 PM   #2
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Having traveled the Alaska Highway back in the 70s, it was largely a gravel road, and the horror stories came from that era. today it's like a freeway (almost). Paved all the way. Last trip back home, in our truck and Jeep, not our motor home, we averaged (don't tell anyone) about 75-80 mph. DO look out for the frost heaves, which are typically well marked with small flags. It's an easy drive these days.

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Old 10-29-2015, 02:59 PM   #3
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Forget the horror stories...they're left over and repeated from years ago.

All the major roads are paved. However, like the lower 48, maintenance and construction is ongoing every summer. There's a particular area around rightly-named, Destruction Bay, that is always in repair because of continual problems with frost heaves. Plan to have a slow day when traveling that area. Then you'll come to your first Alaska town, Tok, to breathe a sigh of relief!

So....you will be driving through some gravel sections. Folks will recommend that your drive slow and that's an excellent recommendation. For us in a 40' motorhome towing our Jeep, even when a vehicle and especially a semi truck heads in our direction, we would definitely pull over to the right as far as possible. If there was no one behind us, we'd even come to a stop until they passed.

One thing we came upon was in Whitehorse Yukon in a RV park, there were a half a dozen motorhomes actually removing their across the rear stiff flap. We talked to them and they showed us their towed vehicles which had a layer of large stones laying at the base of their windshield.

We only had stiff small flaps behind each wheel, not the one across the rear. For the whole trip we received absolutely no damage to either vehicle.

Later on around Salt Lake City on the interstate in pouring rain, for lack of something to do, I observed motorhomes going in the opposite direction. Those with the full rear flap were throwing water high on the towed vehicles' hood. Those without the full flap were throwing water at the tire level. That convinced us about how those flaps work.

Bottom line....if you don't need the new truck now, I'd wait until after your trip.

There's no reason to be hesitant about the trip in general. Thousands of RVers in every kind of RV have made the trip successfully. Just don't try to rush it.
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Old 10-29-2015, 03:11 PM   #4
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I've driven to Alaska twice, in 2008 on a brand new Honda Goldwing motorcycle and last summer in our 43 ft Newmar Mountain Aire. Though you will run into some road construction each year and the proverbial frost heave between Destruction Bay and the AK border, most of the horror stories being told are greatly exaggerated.

This past summer we went up the Cassiar Hwy through BC, along the Alaska Hwy to Whitehorse in the Yukon and up to Dawson City. We travelled over the long gravel Top of the World Highway to come into Alaska through Chicken on May 21st. That was our longest stretch of gravel and other than a rough 30 miles in Alaska near Chicken, it was good road but awfully dusty. Our next section of gravel was north of Fairbanks on the Haul Road up to the Arctic Circle. We left our coach in Fairbanks and took our toad up to the Arctic Circle and that was a good thing as the resurfacing on a part of the Haul Road was extremely muddy and slippery. We had more construction just north of Denali but it was only a few miles long and fine as long as you took it slow, which was mandatory behind a pilot car. The only other gravel we encountered coming south was a 13 mile section of very rough washboard. That section was not fun but it was only 13 miles and we took it very slow at under 25 MPH.
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Old 10-29-2015, 03:56 PM   #5
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We made the trip this summer...
I thought the roads, insects, traffic, weather, campsites were better than expected.
There was a 150 mile section, the last part of the Yukon that they were trying their best to smooth out.
That made the gravel return to Chicken and the Top of the World highway to Dawson a good alternative.
The Cassiar was the worst, big dips but there was so little traffic on it you could travel at 30 MPH, saw about a dozen vehicles on it in three days. The BC parks were fantastic and a good valve for money.
The road from Anchorage to Tok also had lots of big frost heaves and was a 30 MPH drive in sections.
A truck camper would be the ideal vehicle, our MoHo faired well but the drawer framework had to be beefed up when we got home. Some had collapsed.
A truck camper could also use the ferry system without breaking the bank.
We have some tar and rubber to remove. No flats, no cuts in the tires..
The only bad part of the trip was the smoke in the air from all the forest fires.
We took three months, Ontario, Yellowstone, Banff, Jasper, Yukon, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Kenai, Wittier, Vancouver, Vancouver Island and back to Ontario. Fantastic..........12000 miles...
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Old 10-29-2015, 06:19 PM   #6
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I took the trip to Alaska this summer, and IMO, I'd delay the new truck until you come back. I towed a Chevy Malibu, which admittedly is a lot lower than a pickup, but I just got it back from the body shop after repairing $1100 of damage to the front end from rock pitting, and I did remove the full length flap on the rear before leaving. There's about 40 miles of (no) road around Destruction Bay in Canada that was solid potholes and washboard dirt/mud that at 15 mph, the coach was jumping up and down it was so rough. Also, the top of the world highway was very rough and miles and miles of solid dust. There was so much dirt in the engine compartment, the horn would only go "mep".
Also, you'll encounter miles of road that has just been tarred and graveled.
The roads in Alaska were a lot better than the roads in Canada to get there.
That being said, I'd discourage dragging a new vehicle to Alaska and back.
In the end, it was worth every jolt. I'm already longing to go back.....
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Old 10-29-2015, 06:34 PM   #7
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Go to YOUTUBE and find Chris Travels, Chris and G just left AK for the lower 48. They have posted a video just about every day. You can see what the roads are like.
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Old 10-30-2015, 05:22 AM   #8
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We've done the trip twice, and each time we went up early, end of May. Road repairs hadn't started yet. Minimal traffic, beautiful scenery since mtns. were still snow covered, lakes partially frozen, and the animals were out and about. Coming back middle of Sept., no road problems at all. I guess timing is the key.
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Old 10-30-2015, 05:35 AM   #9
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We went to Alaska this past summer (2015). Took the Alcan, the Robert Campbell, the Klondike, and TOW and the Taylor. We had no problems. However, you must drive appropriate speed for the road conditions. The people we saw who had problems were driving to fast and trying to meet a deadline to make it to a certain location each night. Wonderful trip anxious to go again! I would not put off the purchase of a newer vehicle.
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Old 10-30-2015, 06:49 AM   #10
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When are you heading to Alaska Mr. Tarheel?
Good Luck, Be Safe and Above All, Don't Forget To Have Fun
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Old 10-30-2015, 07:03 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bigd9 View Post
When are you heading to Alaska Mr. Tarheel?
We hope to leave NC around June 1, depending on a couple things. Where have you been? Are you back on the road?
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Old 10-30-2015, 12:03 PM   #12
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We make the trip from Alaska to the Lower 48 every other year. We tow a 1994 Dodge Durango and have not had any issues with it. We prefer the older vehicle, just in case there are some problems. If it gets paint dings, no big deal. Yes, one needs to take their time on some sections of the road, but for the most parts it is not bad. We usually leave mid April and come back later May. Generally the weather is OK, even though we have ran in to some good snow storms. The game animals are just getting starting moving and late May the new born young animals are out. We enjoy traveling through BC this time of the year also, as the field are getting green and the baby calves are out every where.
Have safe travels and take your time!
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Old 10-30-2015, 01:25 PM   #13
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We have been everywhere BUT Alaska Dick. I'm glad you started this thread because I already learned a lot from these posters. Next year may work, if any of our planned snow skiing trips don't throw a curve ball in our direction. You know how reckless Sharon is on the slopes!
Good Luck, Be Safe and Above All, Don't Forget To Have Fun
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Old 10-30-2015, 04:05 PM   #14
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I went on a RV caravan in 2014, 24 rigs. There was about 50 miles of our travels that were gravel. There is a lot of Yukon sections where they put down gravel and oil and let vehicles roll it in over time, and that is the section where of 24 two had winshield damage from rocks. No toads got any winshield damage. The winshield damage was from autos or personal trucks traveling the other direction at too high a speed. The persons that had winshield damage were driving 35 mph.

One thing that you can do is put clear plastic tape around the edges of the windshield for that section of the trip, and bring goo-gone or similar so you can pull it off and clean off the residue once you get thru that section.

US Department of Transportation gives funding to Yukon every year to complete the Alaska Highway to be fully paved its entire length thru Yukon, but there will always be sections being repaired each summer that will be the gravel and oil. They are all signed 35 MPH but you can't control what other fools driving on gravel do.

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