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Old 08-28-2016, 01:37 PM   #1
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Location: Lexington, SC
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Questions for seasoned rv"ers

Especially experienced Alaska travelers.

I have a few questions for seasoned Class C RV owners, especially those who have made the trip to Alaska. First, a little background info: We retired in 2010 and took up RV' ing as our principal pastime. We began ambitiously with a 42' Keystone Raptor Toy-hauler thinking that we would have a lot of company. We matched that with a Ford F350 Dually Diesel and I became pretty proficient at driving it. The problem was, we didn't have the company,we were restricted in many places as to where we could get into. I didn't feel comfortable hauling this for great distances so our longest round trip has been probably 1600 miles. I had about 3 years experience with it. This year was our 50th anniversary, I offered DW a cruise to Alaska in celebration, but her, having a morbid fear of boats, stated that she would prefer to drive in an RV. We sold the Raptor and the truck and ordered a new FR Forester 3011DS which just arrived in July. So far we have taken one 8 day shakedown cruise to learn the ropes and make sure everything is working properly. We are planning our next trip next week and when we return, we will add hardware for a Toad (baseplate to our Jeep Patriot and Tow-bar, Patriot Brake System). I have never flat-towed a vehicle before. We are beginning to plan that trip to Alaska next year. My questions:

How critical is the experience factor on a trip like this? Are we being overly ambitious to plan a 10,000 mile or so round trip (we live in SC) with our experience level?

We don't know what we don't know and are planning the trips that we can, before an upcoming winter and an early spring to gain more experience, particularly over mountainous terrain. In your opinion, should we defer this trip an extra year in order to acquire more smarts?

How late would be too late to make this trip during the summer? We would like to sightsee for a week or so.
We welcome any and all replies from our RV family. Thanks!

We are in our early 70's and in relatively good health. My only concern is my road knowledge.

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Old 08-28-2016, 02:15 PM   #2
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We don't have a class C, but we do tow a 31' overall travel trailer with a F150 Ecoboost. My wife and I are now fairly seasoned RV'ers in my opinion, but of course are still learning. We will both turn 70 next year and are planning a to pull our TT from Florida to Alaska and back next summer. There are several very good vlogs and YouTube videos on traveling to and around AK, some with trailers and some with MHs. Long Long Honeymoon has a couple of good videos concerning the Alaskan Highway and Alaska. I think we will leave FL mid-to-late June and plan to be on our way back home by late August or early September.

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Old 08-28-2016, 02:52 PM   #3
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If you ever have the opportunity to take this road trip -- do it! We are retired and have made the trip in 2014 and again in 2015 from west Georgia. In 2014 we did it in a truck camper (too small) Last year we traded our rig(s) in and did it in a small class A. With the class A in 2015 we pulled a toad on a dolly.

The roads are all relatively easy and doable. In the Yukon and Alaska you will run across a few patches where they have removed the pavement in prep for resurfacing. No problems at all with that. The trick is to just go slow on those sections-- a good many of them have pilot cars that take you along at a safe pace. Probably 98% of the roads are just like any 2 lane major highway you'll see or have experienced here in the US- but the scenery is spectacular!

There will be frostheave's in the Yukon and Alaska (That's seems to be a word used to describe a wave made out of pavement just like you'd see a wave with water in the middle of the ocean--- never heard that word before here in the south). As long as you see them and and slowly cross them they are no problem at all. A good many of them are well marked but a few are not.

We learned to always drive on the top half of you fuel tank. Fueling stations are VERY spread out so don't drop below half a tank.

Get ahold of the version of Milepost for the year you are traveling. It will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know by each mile of the trip. Best investment for the trip!

Its important to pace yourself. We could not do more than 300 miles a day and more often than not it was 250. Your speeds will be lower. But that's a lot of road to cover in a day up there.

We are convinced that the best time to do the trip is to hit Alaska about August first and be back south of the border or at least in lower Canada by the 3rd week in September (beat the snow). The roads are getting pretty well fixed up by August from the previous winter- and a lot of the crowds are southbound. We learned early on to plan on Alaska being rather busy with tourists through July.

We did the round trip in 6-7 weeks each year and found it an enjoyable pace for us. We did about 20+/- days up and 15 +/- days back and a couple of weeks up there.

Its the most wonderful road trip you can imagine and the is nothing to be intimidated by any of it. Just a little bit more preparation than normal. Do it it by all means and have fun.
Joe a/k/a "Americanrascal"
2016 Winnebago Adventurer 38Q +tow dolly
8th RV to sit in our driveway in 35 years
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Old 08-28-2016, 05:15 PM   #4
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The above post gives a good description of what to expect.

Don't think of it as a 10,000 mile trip. Break it down in chunks - daily or every couple days. Then it won't seem so long. We never drove 250-300 miles/day once we crossed the Canadian border. Many days were 50-100 miles. It doesn't make sense to backtrack to see things. Tour as you travel.

Along with the Milepost, purchase online Mike and Terri Church's book 'Alaskan Camping' which includes Canada and the Yukon. It's all you will need for finding every campground, RV park or awesome boondocking spots along the way. They lived in Fairbanks and traveled back and forth so they know everything out there.

Your last purchase should be the TourSaver 2/1 coupon book (online). One glacier cruise will pay for the book and you'll want to do more than one!

The Milepost is good for history and maps. We had it open on our laps daily and read to each other as we'd drive. Don't rely on it for campground information because there are lots more that aren't mentioned. Try to pull into a site by 2pm and you'll get a site easily.

There is so much to see in Canada and the Yukon before even getting to Alaska so don't rush through. Their Provincial parks (similar to our forest service campgrounds) are wonderful. You'll find that RV parks are not like you are used to - they are very basic, not 'resorts' even if they call themselves that.

As soon as we crossed Canada we stopped in the first town and picked up some fresh groceries. We went to the bank and got $300 in Canadian - that's where you'll get the best exchange. That money was used for Provincial campsites as some just had a dropbox for payment. It was also used for laundry and other incidentals. Upon return we used what was left on fuel, restaurants, etc. We used our credit card for a lot of things. We had one with no added foreign exchange charges so you might check yours. American Express is not widely accepted so have another. Before crossing the Canadian border check online for the recent border crossing information on what you can bring across. It changes all the time in terms of fresh food products. Answer their questions with a short 'yes' or 'no' and no 'smart/comical' answers. Be honest and don't try to hide anything. They can pick it up easily.

The only reservations we made for the whole summer was for the July 4 weekend (Alaskans like to camp, too) and for 5 nights in Denali's farthest campground you can drive - Teklanika. For those we only made them about 2-3 weeks prior when we could better judge when we'd be there. As it turned out, we were early for Denali so on a whim we boondocked nearby at a lovely spot and early the next morning we drove into the park and easily secured an additional 5 nights in the front campground - Riley Creek with our 40' motorhome. We spent 10 nights in Denali and saw 'THE' mountain 7 of 10 days and saw every one of the big animals residing in the park - more than once. Some short-term visitors never see them.

As stated, gas/diesel is available but they will be farther apart than you're used to so drive on the top 1/2 of your tank. This is no place to wait for the best price.

There are still old road report horror stories floating around out there. That's history. The roads are mostly paved by now. Yes, there will be areas of construction just like you have in the lower 48 and summer is the only time they can do it. You definitely won't be driving normal highway speeds in many places. The key to not getting damage is to take it slow.

Since you're retired I'd recommend that you plan to cross the Canadian border the end of May, first week of June and plan to return mid to late August. Things start closing down in September.

You'll meet up with the same folks over and over again. The travelers are all going on the same few roads and to the same places. You won't be alone out there. Also, fellow travelers and the locals are extremely friendly and helpful if you should need any kind of help.

Your wife was wise to suggest this trip over a cruise. Your age and RV don't matter. You'll see everything up there! Check on other forum sites for more Alaskan information, especially after January. That's when folks start getting antsy to get on the road. We took turns driving daily so the other could really see the countryside and watch for critters. Hope your wife can do the same.

There aren't big mountains to cross like crossing the Rockies in Colorado. They are so gradual that you won't even know you crossed them! Have fun planning. It's an awesome trip!
Full-timed for 16 Years
. . . Back in S&B Again
Traveled in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Diesel
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Old 08-28-2016, 05:48 PM   #5
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Ditto what twogypsies said, EXCEPT for the big mountains. We have made this trip from TX 3 times and believe me there are some steep long grades on the Alaskan Highway. There are a couple that will range between 8 and 10 degrees for 2 - 3 miles. Definitely not a problem if you take your time especially going down.

If you have concerns about doing the trip solo check into going with a caravan. There can be safety in numbers, especially on your first trip up the Alaskan Highway. We have always made the trip solo but we are pretty independent! Also the cruise up the inland passage is very comfortable as you are always close to shore and usually don't see a lot of rough water. We really enjoyed our cruise too, but it doesn't compare with doing it in an RV.

We have left TX in mid April, late April, and late May. Mid April was our best trip North as we saw a lot more animals along side the roads because the snow had only melted along side the road. We return sometime in Sep. Just watch the weather in the Canadian Rockies to miss the snow storms. We like to spend at least 3 months in Alaska as there is a lot to see and we don't like to be rushed.

I would suggest getting your towed set up and make a couple trips through the mountains in your area to verify you have the power to make it to the top and are able to control your speed going down the other side.

We found that 90% of the roads we drove on Route 66 were in as bad shape as most of the Alaskan Highway.
Robert & Leslie
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:51 AM   #6
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We made the trip 5 years ago in a 15 year old Toyota Dolphin micro that we bought specifically for this trip.

Set your fears aside regarding the Alcan (Alaskan Highway). I wrote a short article call: "Not your Fathers Alaskan Highway"

Not your Father’s Alaska Highway | Alaska

We also kept a daily blog on our travels. I'd recommend take a lot of photos, and if able, keep a blog so others can follow your journey.

Alaska | Alaska Trip Log
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Old 08-29-2016, 07:20 AM   #7
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We made the trip back in 2009, we had just bought our current coach and soon after I got laid off from my job so we took the opportunity to do the +3 month 15K mile trip. We meandered out way out west and visited the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier taking out time. Same thing as we headed up through the Canadian Rockies, awesome.

We arrived in Alaska on July 8th and left Aug 8th, a month was really not enough time in Alaska. We also didn't have a toad which really limited our ability to see everything. I would suggest looking at the routing of some of the caravans and look at what attractions they stop at, then plan on seeking out others along the way. Take your time and soak it all in, it is a great trip.

On the way back, on a whim, we took the Cassiar Hwy in west British Columbia and then went to Hyder AK to see the bears. And then headed down to Vancouver and then into USA and drove the Pacific Coast from Wa to Napa Valley Ca.

I hope to do the trip again.
Jim J
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:18 AM   #8
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Bought a new TT in April 2006. May 8th I was on my way to Alaska. Just me and the dog. I still want to go back.

Just do it. You will never regret going it.

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