Oct 3 2004, 02:52 PM
We're planning a trip to Alaska for next year and have several questions, including (1) What is the best time of the year to go? (2) Is a guided caravan/tour best or is independent travel best? (3) Should we take our toad or leave it and, if we take it, what extra protection is necessary?? Would appreciate any advice or input from those of you who have gone, and information on your experience in travelling to
Oct 4 2004, 09:15 AM
We did it in 2000 and started out going it on our own, met up with some fellow Escapees in Dawsons Creek and we decided to tag team our way up to Tok. That turned out to be fun as we used the CB radio to call out animal sightings and generally gush about the scenery(OH MY GAWD IS THAT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL .......YOU EVER SAW!!! LOOK AT THAT!!!) Well you get the picture.
We parted company at Tok and crossed paths while up there and emailed each other things we thought each other shouldn't miss. So it was fun to hook up with someone else going and share the trip in a way. But we also experienced the caravans in that they would come roaring in, load up the campground, have their tailgate meetings, head out for scheduled events, roar out the next morning on to the next scheduled place........it was very busy and hurried.
When we found a place we liked we stayed longer, if a place didn't appeal to us we passed it up or only stayed overnite. We love the flexibility of choosing our own time schedule. And with our Escapee stickers of course we found new friends as we travelled.
We have a Class A motorhome, so the Toad was a necessity. It's rainy and misty up in Alaska a lot, especially the Kenai peninsula. Running errands like groceries or checking out a town required a car as far as we were concerned. There are many side trips that can be taken in a toad while your rig is homebased.
As for when, we crossed the Canadian border around the 15th of May. Took just about 3 weeks to get to Tok. We stopped for several days in Dawsons' Creek and stocked up and checked out the town. Stopped for several days in White Horse again to stock up and rest. When we got to Tok we had to wait several days for the mail to catch up with us and then we were off. I think we got into Tok around June7-8th. That made us early before the caravans and crowds. It was an awesomely beautiful trip as snow still covered the mountain peaks and there was ice in the lakes, but the roads were clear. Construction is just getting started in April on the Alaska Highway to fix that years' frost heaves and pot holes, so you take it easy. Red flags and cones are placed to advise you or road breaks and pot holes. 45mph might be considered the average speed. At times you go much slower and at times you can comfortably go 60. It requires attention to the road at all times, especially since you are unfamiliar with the area. That includes coming around a mountain curve and confronting a herd of mountain goats who think they own the road.
I'm sure there are many others who have made the trip more recently than ours but what I read each year the advice is similar.
If we go back it will definitely be early again, once the caravans started coming in late June, everything got more crowded and reservations started becoming a must.
We headed home the last week of July.
Oct 5 2004, 07:19 PM
I agree with many of the things that Sunflyer mentioned. We also went in 2000 but arrived in Alaska in mid-June and had to contend with many caravans. If you like to have everything planned for you - including where you stay, how long, when you depart, etc. etc, caravans are great. We prefer to plan our own trip so that we can stay as long as we wish in each place.
One thing that I would strongly recommend is to purchase a great book written by Mike & Terri Church, called Alaskan Camping and published by Rolling Homes Press. You can find it in Barnes & Noble I believe. We used it every day of our travels to decide where we did and did not want to camp. I believe this book is a "must" for Alaska and in fact, we will be using another of their books, Mexican Camping, on our trip this winter. Also, when you are in Whitehorse, be sure to see the "Frantic Follies" - it was a great, funny show.
As far as taking your "toad", I believe you should, by all means. There are so many things to see in Alaska that you will be sorry if you don't.
Have a great time.
Oct 6 2004, 10:52 AM
Oh I'm so glad homeq mentioned the Church's book and 50 lashes with a wet noodle that I forgot.
We used it extensively for picking great campgrounds. Milepost was good for locating services but the Church's book gave you good objective comments and descriptions to help making decisions. I'm not sure how often they update it but it sure is a great guide.
I am so glad others are using Mike and Terri Church's book. In three trips to
Alaska and after buying more materials that I could absorb this is still the best.
We did NOT take a toad and we were driving a 36' diesel pusher. There were a few side trips we couldn't take but I just didn't feel like towing my Jeep 7M miles
to drive it 3-400 miles. It's sure a a matter of personal choice.
The greatest amusement is seeing the variety of home made protection devices that people put on their toads. Some of them look like they would make a great chicken yard. I would suggest some variation of the "underskirt" as the most
simple and effective protection for your toad.
Above all you do NOT need to join a caravan unless you get VERY nervous traveling alone. You will get to know folks along the way that are traveling the same roads at about the same pace you are and you will find yourself camping in the same campgrounds along the way. You will recognize the rigs and the people coming into the campgrounds and most are more than ready to visit.
Although I would personally prefer to carry "heat" and have a permit, don't try it
going through Canada. It is not worth it. If you absolutely feel you want a sidearm while in Alaska you will have to either buy one when you get there or ship
one ahead and pick it up after you enter Alaska.
Traveling Alaska is not much different than traveling Montana, Wyoming, North or
South Dakota except there are no interstate highways. You have to plan ahead a little for fuel stops and food stops and the mosquitoes are bigger and closer together. It is a fantastic experience.
Jul 10 2005, 05:44 PM
We went in 2004 and found that the "Milepost" book for the Alaskian Hwy. was a great help.
I really liked being independent and not being with a caravan. You will be amazed at how many times you see the same people in such a large location.
Don't miss Denali National Park--
Have a great time.
Jul 13 2005, 11:00 AM
We traveled to Alaska in 2002 and are going again in 2006. We went with another adventurer the first time and have 3 different rigs going next year if all goes as planned. We found the only place and times we had to make advance reservations at campgrounds was in Alaska because of the many caravans and small campgrounds. We didn't plan anything much in advance (called a few hours to a day in advance for campgrounds) because we like to fly by the seat of our pants on what we want to see and how long we are staying in one area.
Because we are spontaneous fulltimers, we do not care for caravans which has everything preplanned, but traveling this way is not for everyone. We spent a total of 3.5 months on our first journey and remember that there are great things to see throughout Canada as well as in the state of Alaska.
We have a 5th wheel so we had our tow vehicle to drive to explore hidden places and there are places that your motorhome can't travel, so the choice will have to be yours rather to take your toad.
Enjoy, you will have great memories and stories to share when you return
Jul 21 2005, 06:41 PM
We had the same questions as you and have figured out that we want to go by ourselves. With the help of the Milepost and a great video by Bob and Judy Howen (Alaska by RV) on traveling to Alaska I figured if they did it so well, we sure could. Yes, we're taking a toad since there are so many things to see from what we've discovered that it will be useful. (Besides...the Howen's had a major breakdown, so they just left their rig for repairs and took the toad for some travels they wouldn't have done otherwise! )
We're planning to cross the "first" Canadian/US border by about May 15...miss the crowds they say, and wildlife is more prevalent.
See you on the road!
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