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Old 03-09-2012, 11:11 AM   #1
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Alaska Bound

I am an avid reader of this forum and I thought I would solicit opinions regarding an upcoming trip to Alaska. We plan on leaving the first part of June from my home in Missouri. Our coach is a new 2012 Itasca Suncruiser 35P w/ the 24000 lb chassis. I tow a 2010 Ford Edge with a Blue Ox Aladdin. The coach is stock. My question is are there any modifications I should consider to the coach before I embark on the journey? Any advice and gas money would be appreciated.

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Old 03-09-2012, 11:17 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum!

I'm sure some of our Alaska experts will be along shortly to offer advice.

Best of luck and travel safely.


Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:06 PM   #3
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We did it in 2010 and had a wonderful trip. Here's my two cents worth.

1) Buy the "Milepost". Look at it over the next few months. Good info on campgrounds and restaurants and gasoline stops. But, do not over agonize over the descriptions of "long winding grade, steep drop-offs" and so on. Wife was really anxious as we approached those mile markers only to find they weren't nearly as bad as advertised. We finally put it away after the third day.

2) Bring plenty of money. Gas is expensive, so is everything else except campgrounds.

3) Figure out in advance what to do about cell phone coverage. Verizon charges a lot more for Canadian coverage, and they won't tell you in advance that it doesn't work in the Yukon Territory which is about half of the Alaska Highway.

4) Towns are about 250 miles apart. Travel is slow, our moving average was about 45mph on good days. So town to town is a full day.

5) Watch out for Road Swells. They will mostly be marked by orange flags and you need to slow way down for them. They really get bad after Watson Lake. They warned us there that the next 200 miles would be bad. At the very first Swell we came to there was a Fifth Wheel parked with the axles torn out from under it.

6) Wal-Mart in Whitehorse allows camping, closes at 9pm and the parking lot is nearly full of campers. Wal-Mart in Fairbanks also allows camping and will have 50 units on any night.

7) Speaking of towing, the caretaker at the campground in Fairbanks told me that a guy pulled in earlier that summer and found that his Escalade was no longer on the back of his coach. Highway patrol, mounties, etc. looked for it and it was never found. Check your hitch, tow bar, safety chains and breakaway brake system religiously.

Enjoy it. It will be the trip of a lifetime.
John McKinley
2007 Damon Daybreak 3060, Ford 16,000# Chassis,
Ford C-Max Hybrid Toad , Suzuki V Strom 1000cc
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lancer63 View Post
Our coach is a new 2012 Itasca Suncruiser 35P My question is are there any modifications I should consider to the coach before I embark on the journey? Any advice and gas money would be appreciated.
Maybe you have already but I would suggest spending as much time as possible in the "new" mh prior to a trek like this just to get most of the new motorhome bugs resolved.
Jim with Judy
2017 Newmar Ventana 4369, 2005 Jeep Wrangler (Rock Crawler), 2016 Jeep Wrangler (Mall Crawler)
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:27 PM   #5
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One thing we found on our trip to a Alaska a couple of years ago was a local publication had coupons giving 5 cents a liter discount on fuel (Well memory being what it is maybe it was more and maybe less). At one of fuel stops in Canada the "pump jockey" asked if we knew about the discount and we didn't so he got us the magazine. That was great because every penny saved on fuel was spent elsewhere on the trip. We did a lot of dry camping along the highways without problem or concern. As mentioned the Milepost is valuable source of information. People along the way very helpful and informative. We are planning on another trip but not this year. Lots to see and do and it's almost a trip of a lifetime.
Safe Travels
Bob, Sandi & Marmaduke the Big Pug
SW OREGON 2004 Journey 39K, 330 Cat
If towing: a 2006 Mini Cooper or 2015 RAM Limited 4X4
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:55 PM   #6
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Having visited AK. 5 times to visit family (non -RVing) in the Fairbanks area during Aug., I would notice the campgrounds were never full. So much to see. so little time...I hope to retire in 4-5 years. That is going to be my first trip to AK. RVing. I plan to spend 2 months or more....Last time we spent time in Denali....Here are a few AK. pixs
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:56 PM   #7
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Thanks all for sharing. I will for sure be buying milepost. The coach has been down to Florida so most of the bugs have been worked out. Guess I'll just prepare for the trip, learn all I can and save money for fuel.
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Old 03-09-2012, 07:04 PM   #8
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Thanks for the photos Superslif. I'm planning on a couple of months. No big hurry.
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Old 03-09-2012, 07:13 PM   #9
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Protect A Tow would be my first priority. We still had some dings to the Jeep's W/S and a few chips in the grill. With the harsh winters in Canada and Alaska, the gravel breaks are unavoidable. Even with the protect a tow, I'd still consider some sort of protection for the Ford's W/S. Also check the RV's rear bumper rock shield's ride height. You need at least 4 inches clearance from the roadway, otherwise the shield will make road contact and kick up a lot of stones/gravel found on those gravel breaks.

Good advice on the those 'swells' in the road(Frost Heaves), they will launch you into the stratosphere if you try to drive like we all do here in the lower 48. All in all, the roads are not the horror stories one hears about...there's always going to be construction SOMEWHERE in CA and AK so one does need to use caution. I'd guess any real hardships some people encounter was partly their own doing...like trying to drive too fast for the conditions. It is the last frontier after all. Bob

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Old 03-09-2012, 07:13 PM   #10
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Do some gold panning, berry picking, hiking and just sit back and take in how large the place is....Watching Gold Rush on Discovery Channel right now...I have the gold fever...I'm drawing up a mini gold sluice so I can take one with me....about 15 miles north of Fairbanks there is a public (free) panning area.
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Old 03-09-2012, 07:28 PM   #11
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I told my wife I wanted to go join the Hoffmans next year. I could be the camp cook!
Get that sluice built. If you're successful you may just move up thar'.
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Old 03-09-2012, 07:35 PM   #12
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First off I would sat enjoy your trip and you have a fine coach to make the trip.

A few things that I would consider other than buying Milepost which is a must is carry a spare tire if possble and it doesn't have to be on a rim although that would be better as tires up North are expensive.
Set up with Verizon to alow you to use your cell phone without incuring overseas rates and they will do that. Coverage is weak in the Yukon as previously stated. We used verizon with no problems.

If you don't have one get a Capitol One credit card as there is no charge for transactions involving changing currency. They are the only ones that don't charge a fee. I used it exclusuively especially for buying gas. Yes carry some cash but you can use your credit card most anywhere.

Finally like previously stated, drive slow and head warnings of Frost Heaves plus if it is raining don't take the top of the world highway.

We enjoyed our trip and took 3 months driving 11,361 miles. Oh yes I almost forgot you will probably need an oil change along the way. I did mine myself and carried all the neccessary items to do it other than the oil which I purchased at Wal mart. I stayed in a few walmarts including one in Calgary and one in Wasilla. Didn't have any problems with campgrounds as most of them were great and didn't make any reservations. THe only place we had problems with campgrounds was in Anchorage as that city is not rv friendly and there are only 3 campgrounds there. You can also stay at Fred Meyers in Seward and they allow you to stay for 3 days plus they have water and a dump station. You will also need some darkening material for your windows as it is sometimes daylight at 2 AM.

Enjoy and take your time to take it all in as the scenery is gorgeous.

2014 Winnebago Adventurer 35P,Ford F-53, V-10
2011 Ford Escape,2000 Roadmaster Tow Dolly
"Have a Great Day, Enjoy RVing."
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:43 PM   #13
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I don't know if you can still do it but you used to be able to buy a 4x4 truck in the lower 48, drive it to Alaska and then sell it for more than you paid for it.

In 1971 we drove a 1971 Dodge Challenger Convertible pulling a home made trailer made from a pick up truck bed to Alaska. I believe at the time there were 1,500 miles of dirt/gravel road. We took our time and didn't have any problems. The main thing back then was do not pass a gas station because you didn't know when you would find another one that was open and had gas.

It was a nice drive with a lot of great scenery. We did get a chipped windshield but that was in Canada on a freshly graveled asphalt road before we hit the ALCAN.

So take your time, take a lot of pictures and enjoy it.

Jon & Sue Francis (Retired U.S.A.F.)
Lil Girl-Rescued, Abby Rescued, Peaches Rescued
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:59 PM   #14
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Drive slowly from Kluane Lake to Anchorage. Get rid of the hangy-downy mud flaps and spray guards. They will bottom out when you hit the bump too fast and will spray gravel all over everything. And you will hit a few too fast. If you need something get an underskirt. Expect construction zones. If it is dry there will be a lot of dust. Close all your vents tightly each day before you start. If it is raining there will be a lot of mud spray. Active construction uses a lot of water trucks to wet the surface, so expect to be pretty muddy on the sides. There are wash pads in Tok.

Been driving that road since 1969 and there have been a lot of improvements, but there remain issues. So far we have had one flat on the truck on the Cassiar, changed tire and got a repair in Whitehorse, and one trailer tire cord puncture so we put on the spare and got a replacement in Soldotna. No significant glass damage, and no radiator damage. Consider putting some window screen fiberglass mesh in front of the radiator, easy to shake off the bugs and keeps them out of the radiator cooling fins.

Fuel has been running $1.19 to $1.39 per litre, 3.8 liters the gallon. Plan on $1.60/litre and you should be fine. Last year diesel was $4.79 in Alaska, likely higher this year.

The Yukon Motel in Teslin offers a discount on fuel if you stay there. Contact Creek is cheaper than Watson Lake for fuel.

The speed limit is usually 62 (100Km/hr) and drops in the Yukon. Take your time and enjoy the drive. And be sure your brakes work for those little red and orange flags along the shoulder.

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