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Old 12-23-2007, 08:15 AM
 
24 posts, read 77,287 times
Reputation: 16

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We figure at least 2-3 weeks instate. I have bought a couple of books, but I figured asking the AK natives couldn't hurt, as well! We greatly prefer the outdoors to city-fare, but given the nature-to-people ration in AK, we may revise that opinion a bit. We've never been there, so any info is good info.

Anyway, some questions! This is first and foremost a roadtrip. I have pre-ordered the 2008 Milepost, but I'm curious to hear from everybody:

-What are the absolute best drives in the state?

-What is the best way to drive from WA? We'd like to come home a different route, if possible (further east in W. Canada?).

-What is the best time to arrive? We're thinking August?

-What are some of the absolute must-see's of the state? Throw out anything here. We'll have at LEAST two weeks, so we'll take plenty of suggestions.

-Best way to see some glaciers? Prefer being able to drive to them, but we are not adverse to day-long boat trips (assuming they're not too pricey!).

-Camping in Denali: should we make reservations early? What in the park should absolutely not be missed? We are on a bit of a time crunch, as we are roadtripping quite a bit, but we'd love to stop for a couple-3 days at least.

-We plan to drive the Dalton all the way to Deadhorse. This may later prove impossible, but we're seriously pulling for it. The thing is, we'll be driving a mercury sable. Y'know, 2WD coupe, not some huge SUV. I've not found much on this, but is this inadvisable in the extreme?

-Any other advise? Be as specific or broad as you like, all input is welcome!

Thanks for your time!
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Old 12-23-2007, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,850 posts, read 19,666,494 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
We figure at least 2-3 weeks instate. I have bought a couple of books, but I figured asking the AK natives couldn't hurt, as well! We greatly prefer the outdoors to city-fare, but given the nature-to-people ration in AK, we may revise that opinion a bit. We've never been there, so any info is good info.

Anyway, some questions! This is first and foremost a roadtrip. I have pre-ordered the 2008 Milepost, but I'm curious to hear from everybody:

-What are the absolute best drives in the state?
My favorite road trips in Alaska are from Delta Junction to Valdez, and from Anchorage to Seward or Homer. The drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage down the Parks Highway is also very scenic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
-What is the best way to drive from WA? We'd like to come home a different route, if possible (further east in W. Canada?).

-What is the best time to arrive? We're thinking August?
I will let others with more experience with the drive to and from Alaska than I answer your question about the best route. Early August is the best time to visit the north slope. During the first three weeks of August is when the tundra is in bloom and the temperatures will be above freezing until late August.

August in south central Alaska is cooler than June, and wetter. Temperatures will range between 55F and 65F. You can expect it to drizzle 1 out of every 3 days during August, maybe even more. So rain-gear is highly advisable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
-What are some of the absolute must-see's of the state? Throw out anything here. We'll have at LEAST two weeks, so we'll take plenty of suggestions.
Two weeks isn't a lot of time to see the state. Keep in mind that Alaska is roughly one third the size of the entire lower-48. It would be like spending two weeks to visit Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. It can be done, but you won't be able to spend more than a few hours in any one place.

As to the "must-see's", I would include Denali National Park, Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Valdez, Homer, Seward, Talkeetna, and North Pole.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
-Best way to see some glaciers? Prefer being able to drive to them, but we are not adverse to day-long boat trips (assuming they're not too pricey!).
The Matanuska Glacier is accessible from the Glenn Highway, about halfway between Glennallen and Anchorage. The Portage Glacier is about 90 miles south of Anchorage just off the Seward Highway. Exit Glacier is approximately 10 miles outside of Seward and can be accessed by road.

The best boat trip for glacier spotting, in my opinion, is the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier by Phillips Cruises. They are the only glacier cruise that uses a 137-foot high-speed catamaran. So you will get to the glaciers faster and stay longer at the glaciers than other similar cruises. You will also not experience any rocking because of the catamaran design. The cruise will last approximately 4.5 hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
-Camping in Denali: should we make reservations early? What in the park should absolutely not be missed? We are on a bit of a time crunch, as we are roadtripping quite a bit, but we'd love to stop for a couple-3 days at least.
Yes, make your reservations as early as possible. At least 3 months in advance is advisable. You can make your reservations for 2008 now if you know when you will be arriving. Definately take a trip to Wonder Lake. It is on the north side of Denali and is perhaps the most photographed location in the park.


Alaskan Range (and moose) from Wonder Lake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
-We plan to drive the Dalton all the way to Deadhorse. This may later prove impossible, but we're seriously pulling for it. The thing is, we'll be driving a mercury sable. Y'know, 2WD coupe, not some huge SUV. I've not found much on this, but is this inadvisable in the extreme?
You should know that there are no services between Cold Foot and Deadhorse. Traffic on the Haul Road is primarily to service the Pump Stations and they are on a tight schedule, so they are unlikely to stop to help if you get into trouble. The road is also unpaved. You may want to consider renting an SUV in Fairbanks and drive the rental to Deadhorse and back. Just make certain you have a good spare tire (or two) and enough gasoline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FauteDeMieux View Post
-Any other advise? Be as specific or broad as you like, all input is welcome!

Thanks for your time!
Since the state is so large, my advise would be to pick either Fairbanks or Anchorage as a "base" and then spend the next two weeks making day trips from one of those locations.

Either way, I'm certain you will enjoy your visit.
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Old 12-23-2007, 11:57 AM
 
1,252 posts, read 729,940 times
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Good drives I know about in Alaska aren't any different than the ones I have in Washington, ...the ones that end up in the center of the fairway, with a short iron on in are good, or if it's a really spectacular drive, you drive the green, .....the ones that go in the cup are undoubtedly the best.....
.
..
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Dangling from a mooses antlers
6,938 posts, read 11,741,405 times
Reputation: 5627
Take the Sumas border crossing, head north to Prince George, take a left there and go west. Then take the Cassiar Highway north until it intersects with the Alaska Higway. Then go west again on Hwy 1 past Port Alcan until you get to Tok. At Tok you'll get on the Tok Cutoff, also Hwy 1. and take it until it hooks up with the Glenn Hwy. That will take you all the way into Anchorage and points south.

After you've done the Anchorage thingy then north on the Parks Hwy and that will take you past Mt. Mckinley and on into Fairbanks. Do the stuff in Fairbanks and then head down the Richardson Hwy towards Tok again.

After you leave Tok you'll look for Hwy 5 which will take you through Chicken, AK and then on into Dawaon City, Yukon Territory. Take the Klondike Hwy to the Campbell Hwy then onto the Alaska Highway.

Then once you get to Dawson Creek the rest of the trip route is up to you. I've driven it all many times and enjoy it. If you take your time 3 weeks should be plenty.
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:41 PM
 
24 posts, read 77,287 times
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@Glitch

Thank you for all the incredible information. I yanked out a map and checked everything you said out, looks like everything is pretty centralized on Anchorage and Fairbanks, so having a couple of home bases for the whole trip is pretty appealing.

I've also read about the drives you suggested, and they are pretty much part of everything else you've suggested - I love how everything is on the way to something else.

As to time of year - we plan to spend maybe 4 days driving up to the north slope, so most of our time will be spent in S. central AK. Would it therefore be advisable to come earlier? We'd much rather have better weather in and around Fairbanks/Anchorage. How about arriving in July and then driving the Haul road in the last week of July, or maybe the first week of August? Or is necessary, if we want to enjoy good weather, to arrive in S. central AK in June?

As to road conditions on the Haul road, I know it's gravel, and slate gravel at that, and plan to bring two spares. I also plan to duct tape double layers of bubble wrap across the bumper and hood in an effort to mitigate flying slate-shrapnel. I've got some experience with limited services, this summer my girlfriend and I drove Mexico 1 from Tijuana to Los Cobos in Baja and back, some 2000 miles in all. This will not be the centerpiece of our trip, but I'd hate to pass up an opportunity to drive to the Arctic Ocean, and see everything on the way!

@Stiffnecked

Thanks for the route information, on the map it looks great. How are lodging opportunities on the way up and back with the route you suggested? We aren't completely adverse to camping (well I'm not at all, but who knows about my girlfriend, she can be somewhat finicky). Are bears a problem if camping? How cold does it get at night, assuming we arrived in either June, July, or August?

@User 2

Ha ha ;p
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Dangling from a mooses antlers
6,938 posts, read 11,741,405 times
Reputation: 5627
You need to go to the bookstore and get a copy of the "MILEPOST". It gives you a mile by mile synopsis of what's along the road. Gas stations, motels, campgrounds, resturants, turnout, tourist attractions, and even road construction areas.

You'll find plenty of lodging but during the summer it's very pricey. Last summer I only stayed in 2 motels. Hyder, Alaska was $65 a night and Watson Lake was $98.00. The rest of the time I stayed in campgrounds.

I usually drive my truck with a camper shell on the back so that's not a problem. It's been a few years but I've also car camped in my Subaru Outback and might do it again if gas keeps going up.

I'd post a link to the MILEPOST but I don't know if that's allowed.

Bears are present but not a problem. You can carry a can of "bear repellent" spray with you. It's allowed by Canadian Immigrations and Customs as long as it's manufactured as a bear repellent.
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:36 PM
 
24 posts, read 77,287 times
Reputation: 16
Yeah, I've already preordered the 2008 Milepost, and should get it around March. Although, I'm somewhat worried it may arrive a bit late in the planning stage.

As to pricey motels, yeah, that seems to be typical pretty much everywhere these days.

Thanks for the info about the glorified pepper spray, I'll have to look into it. If only to please my girlfriend, at any rate!
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,358 posts, read 32,376,482 times
Reputation: 13702
I've done the Alcan 13 times, heres my albums from August.

http://www.bethelak.com/photos/thumbnails.php?album=50

http://www.bethelak.com/photos/thumbnails.php?album=52
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:50 PM
 
24 posts, read 77,287 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warptman View Post


Thanks for the pictures, I love the emptiness of it.
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,358 posts, read 32,376,482 times
Reputation: 13702
You are welcome. I'm heading down again in April, a month vacation.
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