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Old 08-11-2017, 10:00 PM
 
6 posts, read 1,671 times
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We are planning on taking the Ferry to Haines and driving on up to Fairbanks. I have heard things, not good things, about Destruction Valley (frost heaves) and would like some input from people who have made this trip in early winter. Or any time. We have a RAV4 and have no objection to putting Blizzax tires on it, although we have Michelin all season radials on it now. I plan on having it winterized before we go. I have relatives in Fairbanks, should anything go terribly wrong, assuming Verizon has cell service.

Looking for experience on this road.

Thank you
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Old 08-11-2017, 10:47 PM
 
Location: Interior Alaska
1,745 posts, read 1,342,380 times
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A passenger vehicle should be fine so long as you take all necessary safety precautions, but you heard correctly about the road. Here is a picture of the trailer hitch of a guy I know midway through that section of the drive.



I made the drive in mid October and all was well, but I was completely prepared for anything I could have imagined.

Wait, what are you considering "early winter"?

Don't assume that your cell service (or anything else) will work.
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Old 08-11-2017, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
3,652 posts, read 1,690,101 times
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Destruction Bay to the border is a really bad strech of road. Just take your time and you'll be fine. A RAV4 won't have any issues. I personally don't waste my money on Blizzaks or studs. I just run the regular all season tires that came with the vehicle, and I've been driving up here for 50 years. As for cell coverage, there isn't any except when you drive through populated areas. Make sure you contact Verizon and get the two dollar a day Canada/Mexico package. Two dollars a day for unlimited talk and text and whatever data plan you have. You only pay for the days you use it in those two countries. And don't forget to get a copy of the Milepost.
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Old 08-12-2017, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Deltana, AK
853 posts, read 1,475,942 times
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A few things to be aware of:

There's very little daylight at that time of year, and it's not a good idea to drive in the dark, since there's a lot of rather large wildlife, no cell service, and the towns are few and very far between. With that in mind, split the drive up and stay in Beaver Creek for a night.

Allow at least an extra day or two to wait out bad weather. The mountain pass just out of Haines sees a lot of it.

Lots of people drive on all-seasons year-round. Personally, I find dedicated winter tires to be worth it. One option is to keep the all-seasons but also carry a set of chains in case you find yourself in really bad conditions. That said, I don't think I've ever seen anyone driving with chains up here...

Extreme low temperatures are possible at that time of year. Be sure your winterization includes a block heater, oil pan heater, and battery blanket.
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Old 08-12-2017, 11:34 AM
 
Location: interior Alaska
2,935 posts, read 2,291,276 times
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It's bad but it's entirely driveable if you go slow and watch the road carefully. I just drove it this week. Tedious but doable.

The scenery is lovely, so it's a shame one's eyes have to be glued to watching for pavement breaks and potholes and frost heaves.

Cell only had service in the various actual towns (e.g. Burwash Landing) so be prepared to handle any emergency or challenge that might arise on your own.
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Old 08-12-2017, 01:04 PM
 
Location: on the wind
708 posts, read 191,678 times
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All season radials with treads in good to new condition should be fine assuming you know how that car behaves in snow/ice. And, bring something for traction in case you do get stuck someplace slick....sand, cat litter, and a shovel. Also a way to make yourselves very visible to other traffic if you are stopped.
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Old 08-12-2017, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Inland Empire, WA
1,114 posts, read 1,422,182 times
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December is the dead of winter and the darkest month. You will have approx 5-6 hours of daylight and temps could very well be -45 to -65F, bring emergency gear suitable to make a bad situation survivable. DO NOT rely on your vehicle heater to keep you alive and whole, it seems that every year someone dies in their vehicle from carbon monoxide poisoning trying to keep warm after after getting their car stuck in the snow, or a breakdown that does not involve the engine. Traffic will be light to non-existent so one cannot count on a passerby for rescue for what may be many hours to, perhaps, days.

Caribou and moose are VERY difficult to see in the dark and can destroy a RAV4 and its occupants in an instant. Everyone in the vehicle should be vigilant in keeping an eye on the road from vegetation to vegetation, on either side. If you are driving in the dark it will be pitch black, but for your headlights, and if there is moonlight available.
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Old 08-12-2017, 02:40 PM
 
Location: on the wind
708 posts, read 191,678 times
Reputation: 2504
Quote:
Originally Posted by AK76 View Post
December is the dead of winter and the darkest month. You will have approx 5-6 hours of daylight and temps could very well be -45 to -65F, bring emergency gear suitable to make a bad situation survivable. DO NOT rely on your vehicle heater to keep you alive and whole, it seems that every year someone dies in their vehicle from carbon monoxide poisoning trying to keep warm after after getting their car stuck in the snow, or a breakdown that does not involve the engine. Traffic will be light to non-existent so one cannot count on a passerby for rescue for what may be many hours to, perhaps, days.

Caribou and moose are VERY difficult to see in the dark and can destroy a RAV4 and its occupants in an instant. Everyone in the vehicle should be vigilant in keeping an eye on the road from vegetation to vegetation, on either side. If you are driving in the dark it will be pitch black, but for your headlights, and if there is moonlight available.
Sometimes I would swear moose have perfected a cloaking device. Amazingly hard to spot in the dark. Don't rely on eye shine.
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Interior Alaska
1,745 posts, read 1,342,380 times
Reputation: 1149
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonHB View Post
All season radials with treads in good to new condition should be fine assuming you know how that car behaves in snow/ice. And, bring something for traction in case you do get stuck someplace slick....sand, cat litter, and a shovel. Also a way to make yourselves very visible to other traffic if you are stopped.
If I am traveling I always carry potato sacks... burlap bags, because they're light and can be condensed into a small volume. If I'm around town I carry several bags of traction sand in the back of my truck. And a shovel, of course.

To make it clear that you're stopped and/or disabled is as important or moreso than being visible. Hazard lights and road flares and/or one of those reflective triangles. If you're just stopped with your headlights on, you could get rear-ended or cause an accident because someone doesn't realize until it's too late that you're stopped on the side of the road and not moving forward in your lane.
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Old 08-12-2017, 06:00 PM
 
10 posts, read 2,423 times
Reputation: 16
Cardboard in front of your radiator so you can actually get heat if it's that cold.
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