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Old 10-17-2020, 10:42 AM   #1
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Best Time To Drive To Alaska

This year was to be my retirement trip to Alaska. I wailed at our property in OR for the boarder to open but never happened. I want to start my trip early but not to early. I'm not sure if we will drive both ways or take the ferry from Bellingham to? If driving there it's easy to wait if there is a late winter. Have to book very early if taking the ferry and changing dates is probably not possible. I don't mind the cold weather but don't want to have a problem driving around because of to much snow. What is the earliest time to book the ferry ? Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:24 AM   #2
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Most seem to leave early June.
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:27 AM   #3
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I looked into taking the ferry several years ago. Discovered it was pretty expensive!!

Have you priced it?
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:38 AM   #4
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I've only been up to Alaska twice, both times in the Fall, around Labor Day. I think that's the best time to go as the crowds are down, the freezing night time temperatures mean the mosquitoes are gone, and the salmon are running, bringing the bald eagles to Haines and the bears to the rivers to feast - spectacular. Took the ferry from Haines to Bellingham the first trip, not too expensive for me and my motorcycle, but would be very expensive for an RV. Had to make reservations for the ferry several months in advance as I recall.
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Old 10-17-2020, 01:50 PM   #5
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What is the earliest time to book the ferry ?
You'll need to go to the ferry website for the most accurate information on booking time.

I'd recommend driving up. It would be a shame to miss the wonderful scenery in Canada and the Yukon.

Most cross the Canadian border around the 3rd week or last part of May. . any earlier and the lakes are still frozen and not as pretty to view and many things won't be open yet.

The Sumas, Washington crossing is very easy and less congested than others.

After crossing, spend the first night in Hope and stock up on groceries. It's a pleasant little town and the wood carvings along the street are wonderful.

Go up on the Alaskan Hwy. and return on the Cassier Hwy, stopping in Hyder in mid-August to watch the bears and the Salmon run. On your return that would also be a good time to go to Jasper/Banff. Doing so on the way up you'll encounter too much snow to do any hikes.

Get the Milepost book for reading the history as you travel up and also for nice area maps.

Get Mike and Terry Church's book "Alaskan Camping" which includes Canada and the Yukon. Don't rely on the Milepost for campground information. Those are paid ads. The Church's book also gives good boondocking spots. The only reservations we made during the whole summer was for the July 4 weekend and for our Denali stay in Teklanika campground - the farthest campground you can drive in the park. Great place! Get the TEK bus pass and you can ride as often as you want during your stay there. For those two times we made them as we were traveling so we could better judge when we'd be there.

If still available, get the TourSaver 2/1 Coupon Book. One glacier cruise from Valdez or Seward will more than pay for the book and you'll want to do more than one!

Have fun planning! It's an awesome trip and if you have the time, plan to spend 3m doing it. Take it slow and explore along the way.
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Old Yesterday, 07:04 AM   #6
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Best Time To Drive To Alaska

All depends what iím looking to do. I have gone up as early as 3-12 , to as late as 9-22. Just depends what fishing/hunting or what type of sights. Not taking my rv, but have gone up in jan. for the dogsled races. If taking rv, or driving i always take the ferry.
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Old Yesterday, 07:09 AM   #7
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We left South Florida the middle of May and entered the Alaska Highway around the first week of June. Spent almost 10 weeks. This was 2004.
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Old Yesterday, 10:24 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of your reply's. I have no time limits so I plan to stay all summer. Plan on doing a lot of fishing but no hunting. Already have the Milepost so will pick up Churches book, thanks. Called last week and the summer schedule and pricing isn't out yet. Probably 12k or more with a cabin. The ferry sounds like a fun experience and not having to worry about customs twice is a plus (limits and guns). As long as the border is open I will be going.
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Old Yesterday, 10:47 PM   #9
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Iíll never understand why twogysies always pushes the Sumas, WA border crossing. It may be fine northbound, but do not attempt it southbound in a rig with your length. Just look at it on satellite view. The curves are too tight unless the far west big rig lane is open, and itís not always open. I followed twogypsies advice and it was a huge mistake. I was about to have to get out and unhitch my toad when they finally opened the big rig lane.
And make sure to go through the far right truck lane when entering Alaska north of Beaver Creek. The clearance is low on the regular lanes.
And beware of the reservation-shamers on this site. You often do not need a reservation, but without one in the popular destinations you may end up in a crappy park that will affect the quality of your experience.
Regarding the Milepost, keep in mind that their business depends on travelers so they are not always honest about the road quality. They tend to say a particular highway is better than it is. Having said that, we did the drive twice, in 2017 & 2019, and we never got a chip in our windshield. And we had reservations the whole trip, and damn glad we did.
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Old Yesterday, 11:14 PM   #10
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We live in Alberta and when we did the Alaska trip it was awesome driving all through BC up one highway and back the other. Most of what TwoGypsies has said on timeframes and everything else I would 100% concur with.

As for reservations we made zero, although I would recommend highly for Denali if planning on staying there. We loved white water rafting after leaving there it was spectacular scenery.

As you have a ton of time, would highly suggest to start ambling across the border by mid May latest. We enjoyed coming back down and checking out Kitimat and Prince Rupert as well.

If this is your comfort level, we found tons and tons of awesome places to boondock at. We had a black bear come and join us sitting on his haunches eating some easy pickings on the bank, as we all backed up into a group at one river we were at off a spit we camped at. It was not unusual for us at 2am to be staring out the main RV windscreen watching stellar sealion's tossing salmon to get the eggs, and tons of otters on their backs eating crabs. Truly a most memorable experience. I recall the mist was fine most of the time, and didn't realise how wet we were getting most days until it was dripping incessantly off my fringe then.

We easily loaded the RV on and caught the short free boat over to Top of the World, where they golf 24 hours in the summer, and have to admit found that quite hair raising in parts in our 37ft A class, but loved the scenery. Just saying and not sure I'd do it again, albeit if you go slow it is doable. Was interesting crossing into Alaska up there, at time sign read Population 3 (we guessed border agent, wife and a kid LOL). Chicken was odd - Ptarmigans called Chickens? So was Tok we found but it was 13 years ago, and we can't wait to go again just a lot slower and staying longer in each place.

Be well prepared for mosquitos and bugs in July/August time. We loved the Yukon and spent a few hours fishing in a canoe on a misty lake listening to the loon calling beautifully = that was the best. Be prepared that some of the roads are in pretty poor shape. When we were there they still hadn't repaired damage from the earthquake many years prior. Coming back we had a blowout on a rear dually (not uncommon up there or cracked windscreens!), and the nearest repair was several miles away but we were able to limp very slowly and have them put on the spare for us but no replacement tire available until we got well into BC and a busier town.

Whilst I'm sure the experience on the ferry would be fun, you truly do owe it to yourself to spend some serious time and savour Alberta, BC, and the Yukon enroute.

I can't comment on the crossing suggestion but TwoGypsies gave you a lot of good info above.

Enjoy and we'd love to welcome you to Canada enroute as soon as it's safe to do so here.
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Old Yesterday, 11:42 PM   #11
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I’ll never understand why twogysies always pushes the Sumas, WA border crossing.

And beware of the reservation-shamers on this site. You often do not need a reservation, but without one in the popular destinations you may end up in a crappy park that will affect the quality of your experience.
For sure, everyone has different experiences and travels differently.

We didn't have any issue with Sumas with our 40' MH towing a Jeep. We were told by other RVers to use the same.

We never stayed in a crappy park. In fact, RV parks are not our first choice. We love public parks or boondocking in beautiful areas. I stated that one of our two reservations was for 5 nights at Teklanika campground inside Denali Nat'l Park - an awesome place to stay. In fact, we were a little early to the area so we boondocked at a lovely spot just before Denali and drove into the park early morning and easily secured and additional 4 nights in Riley Creek campground in the front area of the park without reservations. We saw 'THE' mountain 7 sunny days out of our 9 in the park and every one of the big animals in the park - more than once.
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Old Today, 12:18 AM   #12
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Although I wouldn't recommend a winter season trip on the Alaska Highway for anyone who hasn't driven it before, right now the main issue is crossing the border. The Canadians have been allowing travelers across their border if and only if they make a beeline to Alaska. No vacationing in Canada or visiting relatives or sight seeing. And there are additional restrictions that MUST be followed. A bit of a pain, but its all doable. This may be a fluid situation since the Canadians are not particularly happy with the U.S. response to the COVID pandemic.

The real trick is getting back into the U.S., either crossing into Alaska or the mainland border on your return trip. With the COVID-19 thing dragging on and on, USCBP is very touchy about letting even card-carrying Americans back into the country.

Even if you're fortunate enough to make it to Alaska, the state is having a significant resurgence of positive COVID cases and the death toll is on the rise. There are significant restrictions, particularly in Anchorage, on gathering places, including restaurants, bars, and other similar businesses. Like the Lower-48 states, there are many who believe their "rights" are more important than public health and safety and are working hard to have all restrictions reduced or eliminated. There is a breakout of the COVID statistics that indicate a pretty good number of the positive cases are non residents. Many of them are workers in the seafood industry and I think the oilfields too. Haven't seen any numbers specifically for tourists.

I could discuss this further but I'm already on double secret probation for making political comments, so I better stop now. Suffice it to say that this is just not a good time to travel to Alaska. Hopefully things will change for the better by next spring, but for now I recommend it would be best to wait until both countries have gained firm control of the pandemic and have issued an "All Clear".
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