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Old 10-18-2012, 11:11 PM
Location: Interior alaska
6,381 posts, read 11,948,189 times
Reputation: 3470


Get a good set of HID light to mount on the bumper. They are very bright and if you have them wired to a relay on your high beam lights, you will have good night visibility and can dim them easily with the dimmer switch. Too much darkness and too many critters.

But the drive is still a very nice one to take, just dress accordingly and have a good camera.
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Old 10-19-2012, 12:22 AM
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,358 posts, read 32,315,988 times
Reputation: 13696
I might be heading south during the Christmas Break, Utah anyone?
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:24 AM
355 posts, read 399,816 times
Reputation: 132
I should be up there a week or two after thanksgiving too look at houses and then driving up after christmas for good! I was just thinking about start this thread myself. Finally after 2 years of "in the works" it seems to be coming into place!

I figure ill be driving up with about a 8-10' trailer in tow, still doable in mid to late december? My copy of the milepost should be arriving soon! Just starting to plan out the srive as best i can..

Great advice on the HID lights wired to dimmer switch.. getting installed soon
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:53 PM
Location: Interior alaska
6,381 posts, read 11,948,189 times
Reputation: 3470
Originally Posted by IL2AK4job View Post
I should be up there a week or two after thanksgiving too look at houses and then driving up after christmas for good! I was just thinking about start this thread myself. Finally after 2 years of "in the works" it seems to be coming into place!

I figure ill be driving up with about a 8-10' trailer in tow, still doable in mid to late december? My copy of the milepost should be arriving soon! Just starting to plan out the srive as best i can..

Great advice on the HID lights wired to dimmer switch.. getting installed soon
Pulling a trailer on the Alcan is not a problem as long as you take your time and have the car/truck/trailer in good condition. These photos are when I went to Baltimore in December and brought back a sailboat at -40 and colder temps. The temp on my mirrow only went to -30 so I felt much warmer all the time.

But these photos were taken up by Distruction Bay just before the Lake. Very nice drive in the daylight, but the days are short and having really good driving lights are a real plus!

The trip in Winter can be really neat to do, I have no idea of how many trips I have made over the years, but it is a lot! There is a lot to see, but not a lot of traffic per say, so make sure that if you do have issues, you have good winter gear, flares (start fires too), blankets, water and some quick food. Having a CB is good too, all the trucks have them and you can get help that way too if needed, or at least road reports as they chat back and forth.

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Old 10-20-2012, 06:43 AM
Location: One foot in CT one in KS
2,188 posts, read 2,901,068 times
Reputation: 6526
Everything depends on when you go...

In 6 years of driving to/from the -48 twice a year, this was the first time we had to use chains on our tow vehicle. (5 days ago out of Watson Lake.)

It sounds like you have it covered. My standard advice is to drive the section between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson in daylight hours for a number of reasons mostly related to critters and tricky road sections that tend to have "weather" and to enjoy the views if there isn't weather.

Someone mentioned extra driving lights. We have them on our lead vehicle and they are most useful.

Your itenerary is pretty similar to ours on the Alcan. From Anchorage we stop at Border City to Whitehorse depending on when we leave, to Watson Lake, to Fort Nelson, to Fort St. John through Grand Prairie and after that the travel is tedious but easy. Be aware that finding a pet friendly place in Edmonton is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Some places advertise as pet friendly online but are not in actuality. If you plan Edmonton as a stop or possible stop, do your homework in advance and call lodgings along your route to ensure that they will in fact take your pet and if they do, what the pet policy/fees are. (Specifically a dog of the size and breed of your dog.) A few years ago we had one 60 pound non-shedding dog and after like the 5th motel that didn't leave the light on for us, we felt like the Islip Barge with no place to dock so we had to drive another 200 some miles to Regina to find a place to stay that would take her/us because of an oil convention in Lloydminster that had filled lodgings in and around that town. What a night. Not one we wished to repeat so we bought an Alcan RV.

There are a few "pucker" grades and steep drop offs on the Alcan (and Cassiar) but take your time and all should be fine. You have the right equipment to drive that road. When we went out this past week we got to Whitehorse on Sunday mid-day and it was raining mixed with snow that turned to heavy snow about 20 miles out of Whitehorse. Our drive to Watson Lake got interesting that last 100 miles or so with ice/snow pack mixed with deep slush on the road. We got to our stopping point just outside of Watson Lake and found a number of folks stuck at the lodge waiting out weather and looking for better road conditions. Every one of the stuck vehicles was either a large motorhome or was towing a trailer that was on the big/heavy end for the towing vehicle. None of the stuck vehicles had chains.

We were driving two vehicles, both with mud/snow tires. One was 4WD towing a small hard sided pop-up travel trailer, light for the vehicle's towing capacity, the other (mine) was a 2WD heavy duty 18 passenger van, seats removed, full of stuff (moving) towing a small cargo trailer also full of stuff. Based on road reports at the time, we chose the Cassiar as the lesser of the two evils (100 versus 300 miles of reported bad road) though it was not our preferred route, we chained up the van and went down the road to get south of the storm system as fast as possible.

Plan your gas/rest stops because a great many of the lodges and stops en route are closed by now. We ended up camping in a hayfield at the south end of the Cassiar because at 6:30 pm we found that the Bell II though techincally open was not taking guests (even RVs) and nothing else was open for the south 2/3 of that highway. It was fine (though inconvenient) for us but someone in a Honda got turned away from the Bell right ahead of us and it was going to be a very long night for those folks to find some place to stay for the night.

The moral of the story, be prepared (and you are) be flexible, plan ahead, take your time. If you like distance driving and have not done the drive it will be an experience of a lifetime.

Last edited by AK-Cathy; 10-20-2012 at 07:06 AM..
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:41 AM
Location: One foot in CT one in KS
2,188 posts, read 2,901,068 times
Reputation: 6526
yeah that's right
Looking for honest opinions on a winter ALCAN drive


Forgot to add, in early November you should not be heading down in super low temps but if by some chance one of those systems comes on early, vehicles tend to show whatever weakness is inherent in those conditions. At temps between -45 to -60 even long haul truckers have problems.

We returned to ANC early, 4 years ago in January. Never again. We hit -30 just north of Edmonton and it only got colder from there, -45 in Fort Nelson, -60 in Watson Lake. It's beautiful, crystiline and clear but the road gets very lonely in those temperatures. From Watson Lake to Whitehorse we encountered a number of empty stranded vehicles including tractor trailers. Whitehorse was -65 in the morning when we got up. We had plugged in our car and two additional interior car heaters pointed at the engine firewall inside the car to make sure it would start. We saw lots of shredded tire material on the road from semi tire recaps that we dodged from Whitehorse on along with the stranded vehicles. One vehicle we encountered had struck one of those larger shed recap pieces and it practically ripped the front right axel off of his small economy car. When we encountered him, he had been waiting for over 5 hours for a tow truck using his car heater to keep warm. We insisted that he come with us to Beaver Creek, the nearest town and wait there. Good thing. He was well down the queue to be rescued.

We were not without our own problems. At somewhere near -60 our throttle cable got sticky so we had to alternate defrost which was very much needed with floor heat to keep the throttle from freezing up. We were bundled to the eye teeth but with four of us breathing I was scraping ice on the inside to see out of the windshield. We have a story on that trip about a broken fuel hose spewing gas on the last available pump at the last open lodge and having to use the great outdoor potty at -65 because the lodge's bathroom was frozen up. Fortunately we are adherants to the half tank rule. If you can avoid such weather on your trip by delaying departure, by all means do so. It's not fun, not comfortable and possibly not safe.

Other than the deep cold periods I don't mind winter Alcan trips. The road is less bumpy (snow and ice fills in the chuck holes) it's beautiful and there is a certain sense of comraderie of those making trips in adverse conditions that is more absent with fair weather travelers. Either way, you sound ready enough to me.

Have a good trip.
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Old 10-20-2012, 06:30 PM
Location: Kasilof, Ak/NCa
339 posts, read 467,744 times
Reputation: 208
Originally Posted by Roby81 View Post
Basically only added the married with kids part to say that I have people relying on me so I feel I need to be a little more safety concious. No insult to single folks intended.

Sounds like most of you are concerned mainly with the animals. I might try and look into a bull bar or something to beef up the front end. That'll make the wife happy. "But babe, I NEEDED it!"

BTW- I did have one more question. For the folks that have taken the western route down into Seattle, is that an easier route or is it worse? I'm doing a stop in Vegas so it doesn't matter if I pop out in Montana or Washington. Is this the route people refer to as the "Cassiar"?

Thanks for all the replies so far folks. Please keem em coming.

I ALWAYS come in from Wa, but that's because I am usually coming from family/property on the West Coast, so I can't compare the two roads. I have made the trip once with a hubby, once with my daughter grandson and I, and by myself. Other than get strange looks and comments about travelling without a man, why is it a man can travel without females but not the other way around?, I've not had any problems. If you are going to LV in only makes sense to come in through Wa. I can do border (Wa) to Reno in one long stretch but don't advise it, then to LV the next day. Hywy 89, which you take from I-5 to Reno, has lots of wildlife and tooooo many collisions with them. Bully bar not a perfect solution considering a lot of interaction is through windshields and the occasional "roof launch". Just a FYI Border to Redding, Ca in 10 1/2 hrs, Redding to LV is a day drive (going through Reno). I can do LV to Canada in 2 days easliy.

As to temp tags, I came through one time with an SUV that was less than a month old and had no problem. In fact, they jokingly asked me if this was the SUVs test drive. Have ALL your purchase documents with you, they did ask to see them. Also, as I am sure you already know, have your dog's health cert with you and his current shot records. Have a good trip. I've lived in both states and much prefer Alaska.
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Old 10-25-2012, 11:56 PM
Location: "Out there" in Alaska.
305 posts, read 549,013 times
Reputation: 481
I've made the trip so many times, I can't even tell you where to stay or how long between stops because I do it differently each time. The Cassiar is the loneliest route in my opinion. Regardless of the route, be sure to fill up when there's a station and you'll make it from one place to the next. Motels can be as expensive or not as you choose; I've stayed in some that were deluxe and others I'd bet used the same bedding from the 60s but I slept fine and got no bugs or other nastiness. Eat when you can, keep your thermos filled, and watch out for semi trucks and their loads - they own the road. I don't drive as fast as the Canadians, nor do I end up like those I pass in the ditch or upside down in a snow bank. Be mindful of conditions and drive accordingly. Winter offers spectacular scenery as well as wildlife on the road. As many times as I've driven border to border, I don't give it much more thought nowadays than to pack some favorite snack foods, a thermos, a safety tote of necessaries including flares, water, warm clothes and a sleeping bag. Plan to rest when you need to rather than pushing on. A couple of handwarmers can't hurt, and always always always be sure your keys are in your hand before you shut the door you just locked, and don't forget the toilet paper...
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:53 AM
Location: Anchorage
96 posts, read 178,063 times
Reputation: 136
IL2AK, I just did the trip with a trailer, and while I wouldn't hesitate to drive in the winter without a trailer, I would probably not do it with one. Reason being, problems can happen, and unless you are fortunate about where the problem takes place, it can be a long way to get help. We had a major blow out on our trailer, which disabled the brakes and lights, but thankfully we were 50 miles from Haines Junction which has a mechanic. I'm sure 9 times out of 10 you will be fine, but for that 1 time, it would stink to be stuck at -30 and a couple hundred miles from help. Others do it and have no problem, but for my own peace of mind I would not haul a trailer in the winter....
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:40 PM
Location: Whidbey Island, WA
11,970 posts, read 10,769,762 times
Reputation: 5856
Satt Phone. No brainer.
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