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Old 01-20-2015, 10:50 AM   #1
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Consensus Needed re: Drive to/from Alaska

We are planning to go to Alaska summer 2015. We're getting a bit freaked out about the tales we've been hearing about vehicle damage. Our MH is a diesel pusher and one tale we heard was about rocks getting kicked up into the engine and into a fly-wheel (my husband isn't here to remind me of what its called), that causes extensive damage. We have a couple things we can do to help protect our toad so we're not too worried about that, but the coach is another issue.

What have been your experiences in driving to and from Alaska? What kind of damage did you suffer, or not? Tell me what you know even if I haven't thought of the question. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Many thanks.
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:00 PM   #2
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No damage to the coach itself, other than a couple of rock chips in the windshield, which were easily repaired. I think most problems are with radiators and maybe the fans. Ours is a side radiator, which is VERY heavy duty. Some people have rock guards made to protect the radiator, so you might want to look into that.

We went in '10, and there were only a few sections of bad surface road on the Al-Can. Just go slow. DW drove most of the bad sections because it was making me nuts going 15mph. She didn't mind at all.
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Old 01-20-2015, 03:21 PM   #3
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We went to AK in 2009. Had a rock hit the windshield and a crack started to propagate up the middle quickly, we went to a glass shop in Fairbanks and they drilled a small hole to terminate and then injected resin which lasted until we got home.

Some motorhomes are more susceptible to radiator damage then others. Ours is a side radiator, no problems. Rear radiator is more prone, some manufacturers put screening across the bottom and when we were preparing for our trip I found posts where people had rigged up their own.

Portions of the Alcan can be very rough, this is where the permafrost heaves the road. When we drove it they would put flags where the road was heaved but sometime one would not be flagged. If you take it slow in these areas you should do fine.

Enjoy the trip, I know we did.
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:32 PM   #4
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We went last year. We had a broken windshield and dent on the hood of our truck. It occurred on good roads and came from a truck hauling uncovered big rocks. We did run into some really bad sections of road. We just drove sensibly and had no issues except for lots of dirt on both the RV and truck.
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:36 PM   #5
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WE went and got a broken headlight while going through Canada
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:02 PM   #6
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Don't believe all the horror stories. Yes there are bad sections of roads but if you take your time it's not that bad. If you see a big rig (semi) headed your way, try to slow down and get as far to the right as you can without going off the road. Most of the damaged windshields come from trucks running the opposite direction. Watch you fuel, diesel is plentyful but that next station might be closed, out of fuel, or out of power to run the pumps.
We were there this past summer with an RV Tour group, 24 rigs in all. Yes a few broken windshields and one MH did hit a Moose and did major damage, but the guys duct taped it together and they finished the tour.
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:44 PM   #7
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I think that most of the kind folks giving the bad information are well meaning folks that have never driven the roads there themselves or did so 50 years ago, As others have said, drive sensibly, take your time and ENJOY THE RIDE. Alaska is to be seen and not at high speeds. Have a great safe trip, I envy you going this year. Maybe I'll hit the lottery and go again before I too old to drive. LOL.
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:34 PM   #8
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I totally agree that you shouldn't be worrying over your trip. Those tales are from years ago and they get passed down and embellished.

Have you ever driven through a construction zone in the lower 48 that has gravel? That is what you'll probably encounter a few times. Summer is their time to do repairs. There is also an area around - get this name - Destruction Bay, and there you will have a longer period of time on gravel.

There are some areas that get frost heaves and usually they'll be marked with a orange cone but sometimes not if they're new heaves. You'll soon learn to decipher when one is approaching and you'll definitely slow way down - or else.

The key is to get in the mindset that this is not a fast interstate-type trip. There will be few places where you'll go past 55 - or I should say - where you shouldn't go past 55. Many times we drove 40 mph or even slower. Just take it slow and you'll probably have no damage. As stated in an above post, if you see a truck approaching from the opposite direction, pull over to the far right and many times we would even stop if no traffic behind us. The trucks do like to drive fast.

We left Arizona with a crack in our Jeep's window but decided not to fix it thinking we'd just get another on the Alaska trip. We returned to Arizona with the same crack and no more. We had no damage to the motorhome either.

In Whitehorse Yukon we did see some folks removing their stiff 'rock guard' from across the motorhome. We saw that they had a layer of rocks at the bottom of the towed vehicle's window by rocks being thrown. We have no rock guard and didn't get any rock damage.

The roads are mainly paved nowadays except in construction areas. They are no worse than some we've driven on in the lower 48. No need to worry endlessly. Enjoy the trip!!
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:50 PM   #9
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I don't see your location, so I offer this as an East Coast starting point option: dreading the drive, we took a flight and rented a car for a 9 day DIY tour. Prices are reasonable before/after tourist season (we went in mid Sept).
Flew to Anchorage and toured from Seward/Homer Spit thru Fairbanks/the town of North Pole.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:39 PM   #10
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We made the trip in 2012 with no trouble at all. Good road all the way! The Al-can hi way was in very good shape. Very little construction. I appreciated how the road crew placed red flags on the spots where the hwy. had buckled from the winter freezing. The flags give you time to slow down for the damage. We did have one detour that put us on the old Ak. Hwy. for a couple of miles. We enjoyed that because we were able to drive on part of the original road! I don't remember any flying gravel, no rock chips or cracked glass. We went in the middle of May, the weather was a little cool, that can be remedied with a medium weight jacket. We never made reservations until mid afternoon for a campground. Not to say we did find campgrounds not yet open for the summer season. We always looked for fuel when the needle got close to the 1/4 on the gauge. The trip will always be no.1 on our list.
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Old 01-20-2015, 10:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhs4771 View Post
Don't believe all the horror stories. Yes there are bad sections of roads but if you take your time it's not that bad. If you see a big rig (semi) headed your way, try to slow down and get as far to the right as you can without going off the road. Most of the damaged windshields come from trucks running the opposite direction. Watch you fuel, diesel is plentyful but that next station might be closed, out of fuel, or out of power to run the pumps.
We were there this past summer with an RV Tour group, 24 rigs in all. Yes a few broken windshields and one MH did hit a Moose and did major damage, but the guys duct taped it together and they finished the tour.
They duct taped the moose? Did he have a flying squirrel with him?
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:12 PM   #12
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Consensus Needed re: Drive to/from Alaska

We are going to Alaska from San Diego leaving May 1. Going to Kenai Peninsula to spend the Summer. The first grand baby is due early June. We had the same worries. However most horror stories were from people that traveled there 20 years ago. We are camping by a former minister of tourism in BC Canada and he says well be find, take it slow and enjoy. We were thinking a few friends traveling together would be fun, we just don't know anyone else that is going. :-)
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:27 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by CasaLinda View Post
We are planning to go to Alaska summer 2015. We're getting a bit freaked out about the tales we've been hearing about vehicle damage. Our MH is a diesel pusher and one tale we heard was about rocks getting kicked up into the engine and into a fly-wheel (my husband isn't here to remind me of what its called), that causes extensive damage. We have a couple things we can do to help protect our toad so we're not too worried about that, but the coach is another issue.

What have been your experiences in driving to and from Alaska? What kind of damage did you suffer, or not? Tell me what you know even if I haven't thought of the question. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Just my opinion but I think you are worrying to much. We have driven an RV to Alaska twice without major problems - small chips in the windshield was the only problem. Oh, we did have to have the windshield replaced after returning from our last trip (August 2014) to Alaska because of major rock damage BUT the damage was on I-5 north of Sacramento.
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:38 PM   #14
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Driving to Alaska couldn't be any worse than driving to Los Angeles, in fact AK might be the easier trip....
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