Outdoor Connection

Alaska RVing... Here I Come!

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter February Outdoor Living Newsletter
Road leading to Mt McKinley Alaska
Road to Mt McKinley, Alaska

When CampingRoadTrip.com asked me to write some articles for their newsletter, we came up with the idea to create a guide to RVing in Alaska - and this is the perfect time of the year to start planning. The next two issues of the newsletter will include suggestions for actually making the trip, including times, routes, hints, tips, and recommendations on what (and what not) to do, to take with you, to go and see in Alaska. Think of this as a personal primer to get you ready for your trip, especially if you are thinking of heading up there during Summer 2013.

Alaska - From a Dream to Reality

Have you thought about RVing to Alaska? I did for a long time. Going to Alaska in our RV was the culmination of a lifelong goal for me. I'd wanted to go there in an RV for as long as I can remember. I really like to travel to unusual places, love snow-capped mountains, appreciate wide-open spaces, take pleasure in seeing wildlife, and enjoy clean air. Therefore Alaska was perfect. If you are thinking about going to Alaska by RV, fabulous! I absolutely recommend it. This is one of the great RV trips.

Our Alaskan RV Route

I allocated the summer to do this and crossed the USA / Canadian border northbound just before Memorial Day and going south, about Labor Day. The plan was to avoid spending too much time driving up through British Columbia and parts of the Yukon. The focus was to spend the maximum time in the farthest area - Alaska. To get there as soon as I could, I spent one night in the Whitehorse Wal-Mart lot on our way up (and stayed at a campground in Whitehorse for six days on the return trip).

I wasn't interested in a caravan for this trip. I'm not "anti-caravan" - I've been on three of them (not to Alaska). I just decided that Alaska was such a unique trip that I just wanted the flexibility to be able to stay (or leave) anyplace and be able to make that decision while we were there-not several months earlier. Given it is such a long way up there, I wanted to see it "unscheduled." So I put my own trip together.

I would recommend spending time in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and traveling over much of the Kenai Peninsula. The aim is to see as much scenery as possible, and not get too far off the main highways. My motorhome is 42-feet, with a GVW about 42,000 lbs., and I was also towing a car, we therefore stayed predominantly on the main routes.

Dawson Creek, BC is the start of the Alaska Highway (formerly the ALCAN Highway) and considered the "eastern route" to/from Alaska. North of Jasper through Dawson Creek, BC, Fort Nelson, BC, and Watson Lake, YT was a new route for me so I stopped/stayed at a leisurely pace (playing the tourist!). From Watson Lake, I drove on to Tok, Alaska but did not spend time stopping along this stretch, as we would visit this area on our way back. When RVing in Alaska, there is a need to backtrack on the Alaska Highway from Tok back to Watson Lake (there is no other route to drive this). So you will return to some of these places on your southbound drive. Our different return-route turned us due south just west of Watson Lake on the Cassiar Highway (CA 37-another new route for us). Think of the Cassiar Highway as the "western route" to/from Alaska. Other than a bit of construction, this was a good drive.

About 365 miles (587 km) south of the Alaska Highway, CA 37A turns off the Cassiar Highway and goes west to the coast. This is the only driving route to Hyder, AK and Stewart, BC-two small towns situated just across the border from each other. I wanted to visit there. They have a great bear and salmon viewing area and a restaurant named "The Bus" because the woman who runs it (her husband is a fisherman) cooks in an old school bus (seriously!) and then serves the food out the door. There were two seating areas-outside and inside. I had fish and chips and the fresh halibut was wonderful. It's amazing what you can do in a school bus!

Impress your friends with CampingRoadTrip.com's Alaskan facts:

Did you know ...

  • Alaska is almost closer to Tokyo, Japan (3,520 miles) than New York City (3290 miles)
  • Juneau, the capital of Alaska (not Anchorage!), is the only state capital with no road access. You need a plane or a boat to get there
  • May is a great time for wildflowers, peak season is June thru August, and early September is a time to admire golden leaves
  • Alaska's official state sport is dog mushing
  • The Alaskan flag consists of eight gold stars on a field of blue, representing the Big Dipper and the Northern Star
  • Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million in 1867, which equates to $12.28 per square mile
  • Alaska has 17 of the 20 highest mountains in North America

Ron Jones is a fulltime RVer and well-known writer and speaker in the RV world and owner of AboutRVing.com. He has written feature articles for all the major RV magazines, been a columnist, and author/co-author/collaborator on four RV books his latest latest book, "RVing to Alaska" (©2010 and ©2013) which are available from his website. The book ontains over 150 pages of details on how to plan and do this trip on your own, what to see, suggested routes, tips for Canada (money, highways, fuel, kilometers, etc.), schedules, what to expect and more. Ron will also be sharing some of this information in the next two issues of CampingRoadTrip.com Outdoor Living newsletter. Both the book and his personal commentary will be helpful for you to plan and make your dream RV trip to Alaska. Ron can be contacted at alaska@aboutrving.com

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