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Old 09-22-2015, 02:16 PM   #1
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Our first Alaska Trip, looking for comments on our itinerary!

We are planning our first trip to Alaska and wanted to run our basic itinerary by some more experienced visitors. We will be traveling from the southeast US and spending the coming winter in AZ/CA/OR/WA, ending up in Seattle in the spring. Then we will head up to pick up the ferry in Prince Rupert, and then to Haines (maybe stopping in Juneau), then up the Haines highway to the Alaska Hwy and then to Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks, then back down through Calgary to Montana and the Dakotas, then home. Maybe 10k miles, whew. But no schedule so no rush. Vehicle will be a 25' Winnie View, carrying bikes but no toad.

Some questions:

1. We don't mind traveling in the cusp season and value smaller crowds over better weather. Is April to early to head up or must we wait until at least May?

2. Is a stop in Juneau worth it or should be just go straight to Haines?

3. Worth a day trip to Skagway? (would leave the RV in Haines and hoof it in Skagway if practical.)

4. We hate being tied down with long advance reservations. As long as we are flexible with our schedule can we travel with maybe a couple of weeks advance notice?

Any thoughts on these questions or any other comments you may have are greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-22-2015, 02:29 PM   #2
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[QUOTE=smiller;2754661]We are planning our first trip to Alaska and wanted to run our basic itinerary by some more experienced visitors. We will be traveling from the southeast US and spending the coming winter in AZ/CA/OR/WA, ending up in Seattle in the spring. Then we will head up to pick up the ferry in Prince Rupert, and then to Haines (maybe stopping in Juneau), then up the Haines highway to the Alaska Hwy and then to Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks, then back down through Calgary to Montana and the Dakotas, then home. Maybe 10k miles, whew. But no schedule so no rush. Vehicle will be a 25' Winnie View, carrying bikes but no toad.

Some questions:

1. We don't mind traveling in the cusp season and value smaller crowds over better weather. Is April to early to head up or must we wait until at least May? April will probably be too early...May would be better.

2. Is a stop in Juneau worth it or should be just go straight to Haines? Not only stop in Juneau, but also stops in Ketchakan and Sitka would be worth several days in each.

3. Worth a day trip to Skagway? (would leave the RV in Haines and hoof it in Skagway if practical.) Yes, a day in Skagway and ride the White Mtn railway trip.

4. We hate being tied down with long advance reservations. As long as we are flexible with our schedule can we travel with maybe a couple of weeks advance notice? Two weeks notice should be just fine.

Any thoughts on these questions or any other comments you may have are greatly appreciated![/QUOTE

See notes in red above....


I see that you don't have the Kenai Peninsula on your schedule. Stops in Seward, Homer, and Kenai will be well worth the time and $$. In my opinion, big mistake as there are lots and lots to see and do.

We did this trip but just the reverse of yours and have wanted to go back again ever since.

Have a great time.

Ron
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Old 09-22-2015, 04:33 PM   #3
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Several years ago, after spending time in the interior of Alaska, including the Kenai and Seward area, we camped for a week in Haines. The campground, Oceanside CG I think was the name, was right on the water and was great. We were there for the 4th of July celebration that year and had a wonderful time. Tight spots, but terrific never the less.

While in Haines, we drove over to the Alaska Ferry terminal and spoke to an agent. She arranged a 4 ferry trip down the inside passage, ending in Prince Rupert, BC. I made no advance reservations and had not trouble putting together a 3 week trip, with stops at Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. Juneau was very nice; Ketchikan was our least favorite and Sitka was our favorite. We had overnight accommodations on two of the ferry legs, but had to get up in the middle of the night to attend to the dogs needs down on the car deck. Our ferry trips were the highlights of our months in Alaska and Canada, followed closely by the Kenai peninsula and the Ice Fields Parkway in Alberta.

I hate schedules and, except for an advance reservation of one day in Haines, made no reservations during the entire trip in Alaska and the lower U.S. We did reserve a couple of days in advance at a campground in Canmore, AB.

While in Haines, you can take a day trip over to Skagway to ride the railroad, but advance reservations are a must, especially with all the cruise ships making port calls there. The nice thing about taking time to spend several days on each stop, is that you can do all the sights and visit the same places that the cruise ship passengers go to, but you can do it on your own schedule, especially when the ships are not in port. If we ever go back to Alaska and take the ferry, we will be sure to include Wrangell in our itinerary. I understand that it is a great stop.

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Old 09-22-2015, 05:23 PM   #4
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X2 on the comments so far. I suggest using Juneau as a base for a few days. You can make a side trip to Skagway either with the RV or just the bicycles (we did it with our bikes). Take just enough in a backpack to stay a night or two. We did the same to Sitka, which I would highly recommend.
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Old 09-22-2015, 05:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the comments. It appears that the ferry runs between Haines and Skagway only in the middle of the day so it doesn't seem possible to do a single day trip, but looks like there are some RV parks so maybe we will take the RV over for a few days or stay the night in a hotel. Looks like the Kenai peninsula is getting a lot of love as well. You guys are going to tire me out
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Old 09-22-2015, 05:56 PM   #6
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If you do your trip early May June you will have more rain and miss the Salmon run. We left Arizona the 10th of June and crossed back into Washington the 15th of August. Had hardly any rain and saw everything. Drove the Alcan Hwy up and the Cassier back. The Ice Field Parkway in Alberta is a must. Take your time and have fun
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:32 PM   #7
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Make sure to schedule Denali National Park and plan to stay at the campground in the interior (minimum 3 night stay), and ride the green bus to the visitor center and on to Wonder Lake. We rode the bus 2 times and really enjoyed it, the bus driver provided very colorful commentary. We then spent another 3 or 4 days at the campground at the entrance.

We spent a full month in Alaska from when we cross the border to the day we came out, could have spent more time for sure.

We did not take a toad and drove a ~40' DP so we couldn't get off the beaten path too far, in a smaller rig you might be able to take the path less followed.

We did not really make any advance reservations, just played it by ear and didn't really have a problem.
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smiller View Post
Thanks for all the comments. It appears that the ferry runs between Haines and Skagway only in the middle of the day so it doesn't seem possible to do a single day trip, but looks like there are some RV parks so maybe we will take the RV over for a few days or stay the night in a hotel. Looks like the Kenai peninsula is getting a lot of love as well. You guys are going to tire me out
There are tenders that run between Haines and Skagway throughout the day
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jacwjames View Post
Make sure to schedule Denali National Park and plan to stay at the campground in the interior (minimum 3 night stay), and ride the green bus to the visitor center and on to Wonder Lake. We rode the bus 2 times and really enjoyed it, the bus driver provided very colorful commentary. We then spent another 3 or 4 days at the campground at the entrance.

We spent a full month in Alaska from when we cross the border to the day we came out, could have spent more time for sure.

We did not take a toad and drove a ~40' DP so we couldn't get off the beaten path too far, in a smaller rig you might be able to take the path less followed.

We did not really make any advance reservations, just played it by ear and didn't really have a problem.
Denali park is usually a must for early reservations, they fill up pretty quick. We spent three days there. Could have easliy made it a week.
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:24 PM   #10
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AK trip

I agree with the other comments, especially the ones about including Seward, Homer...When we went on our first trip, we flew to AK, Anchorage and rented a car to do our traveling about. But wanted to ride the train to Seward, since we'd heard so much about this scenic trip and it did not disappoint. Then drove to Homer and absolutely fell in love with the sense of community there and the halibut is scrumptious! Did a bear tour as well that is pretty different than most in that we were practically the only ones out there and got to see the bears up close and personal within a safe distance of course.. Since that 1st trip, we have RV'd it 6 more times in the Summer and flown three times in the Winter...when we RV we go across the lower 48 from Md.to Ohio to a western route before heading up to Montana to cross the border then on the ALCAN to Tok. Then on to the Denali Hwy via Paxson or Cantwell depending on which one we decide to take . Both are different and lots of places to stop and camp. We go to The Alpine Creek Lodge at Mile 68 Denali Hwy (one of the places we stayed that 1st trip) and loved the owners and theor son so much we go there each Summer for 2-3 months to be staff. This place is a must for travelers who like being off the grid with activities like fishing, wildlife viewing, gold panning, riding throuh the dense woods, lakes, streams, in ATVs, hiking, All 3 meals are included with the room (unless you want to eat around 4 hrs away) and are family style which gives you the opportunity to meet and talk with other travelers from different states and many times countries. We have also RV'd down the Dalton Hwy., so another must when you visit Fairbanks. Of course you won't want to miss Denali National Park and on your way do yourself a favor by stopping at Jeff King's Dog Kennel to hold the puppies, listen to a nice introductory/welcome outside then a talk by Jeff all about dog sledding and the Iditarod. Also while around the Dalton Hwy (Ice Truckers Hwy) check out the Ice Museum and Hot Springs at Chena Hot Springs. In Anchorage be sure to take in the Aurora documentary at the Performing Arts Center created by Dave Parkhurst, a renown Aurora Photographer. Sorry I'm jumping around. I get so excited while talking about AK. and especially RVing to, in, and from AK. It has been the highlight of our RVing so far. We first took a Winnebago ERA and now the VIA and think it's the only good way to travel to get to see places and enjoy the outdoors being with other like-minded people. Oh, don't leave out North Pole...lots of fun for young and old alike. Next Summer I think we will travel more along Rt. 66 and drive up through Canada entering the Northwest side closer to Seattle. Maybe even do like you and take the ferry and visit Juneau as well..haven't been there yet. Before going get your Bible: The MILEPOST and hats with netting and take plenty of mosquito spray I would definitely go in early May...still snow in April..but maybe the end of April. Have a wonderful time.
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:31 PM   #11
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Anyone else here ever camp at Fielding Lake on the Richardson?

I love that place.
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:38 PM   #12
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AK trip...Fairbanks

I should have included more about the Dalton Hwy...we took the ERA there and I can't emphasize enough that this Hwy. was the most beautiful, serene, and spiritual roads I have ever traveled on. Unfortunately due to a time contraint we didn't get to travel another 2 hrs to get to Deadhorse. We both would love to travel it again. We didn't have any problems with "flying rocks" or flat tires so we were very lucky. Camped in Coldfoot 2 nights...Attigun Pass gorgeous!....
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:11 PM   #13
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Definitely make all the stops along the Inland Passage. The ferry does stop at those places and the time allotted for the stops was plenty for us. We loved Ketchikan, didn't like St. Petersburg, had plenty of time for the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, otherwise we don't really get into cities. The ferry has a bus waiting to take you to Mendenhall. One we didn't do was Sitka and I think we'd like it. We got off in Skagway.

We took the ferry on May 15 and had awesome weather and no rain. The waterfalls were full and running fast and many bears were seen along with their young along the shoreline. Lots of whales. I wouldn't leave any sooner that that.

Skagway has some very interesting history and the National Park Service in town even has some walking tours. The cruise ship folks take over the tiny town when they arrive so having a few hours to yourself in early morning is ideal for touring the town. We didn't do the train ride because we were driving out from there and it follows the same route.

Another time we drove from Arizona to the Seattle area and crossed the border at Sumas, Washington - a small, easy crossing on May 20. We spent our first night at Wild Rose RV in Hope, B.C. They have gorgeous huge wood carving along the streets and it's a neat little town - even a Japanese Garden. We stocked up on perishables and went to the bank to get some Canadian cash (best rate). We planned to use public parks for the majority of the trip and many just have a drop box so you'd need cash. Also, for laundry, etc. We got $300 in cash and it lasted the 3-month trip. We used our credit card as much as possible and had one that didn't charge an exchange rate.

The only reservations we made - even with our 40' motorhome towing the Jeep - was for the July 4 weekend and for our 5-night stay in Denali's Teklanika campground (highly recommended). For those we only reserved about 3 weeks prior when we could better judge where we'd be. As it turned out we were in the Denali area a little earlier so on a whim we boondocked at a lovely spot close to the park the previous night and pulled into Denali early morning as folks were leaving. We easily secured an additional 5 nights in Denali's Riley Creek Campground without reservations. We found enough to do in the park for the 10-night stay and saw 'The Mountain' 7 of 10 days and saw all the big animals.

The Kenai Peninsula is very busy July 4 weekend so we stayed in Palmer and went to Seward and Homer after the holiday. We stayed at the waterfront public parks and really enjoyed our stay.

We drove every possible road and had no repair issues to either vehicle. We just drove slow and took our time.


Drive on the top half of your fuel tank because distances can be great.

I'd suggest you purchase 'The Milepost' for history and maps, Mike and Terri Church's book, 'Alaskan Camping' which includes Canada and the Yukon, also. It's much better for campgrounds than the Milepost. Also purchase the TourSaver 2/1 coupon book. One glacier cruise - a must- will pay for the book. We did the Stan Stephens out of Valdez and it was great. We also did one out of Seward.

We drove up on the Alaskan Hwy and returned on the Cassier. We crossed back over just west of Glacier Nat'l Park in Montana. From Arizona we put on 10,200 miles and spent $7400 (6 years ago). This includes camping, dining out, groceries, entertainment, Jeep and Motorhome fuel, laundry, propane and misc. We had absolutely perfect weather all summer - very little rain meaning very few mosquitoes. Each year is different for weather so take raingear and layers of clothing. Also prepare some blackouts for your window so you can sleep. We shirred heavy black fabric on a small tension rod that fit inside the window frames. Then we could easily put them up and take them down during the day.

By the way, over on the Woodalls.com Alaskan forum there will be an ongoing post from now until May for those going in 2016. Also on the top of that forum page is a 'Sticky' of Helpful Hints for the trip. It's a worthwhile read on what to take and what to do. Have a great trip!
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:34 PM   #14
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Thanks so much for all the comments. I'm beginning to realize how much my preliminary planning has only scratched the surface.
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