Epilog: Our RV Tour to Alaska Summary

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So would we do it again you ask? Never say never, but NEVER. Especially in a 40’ motorhome and pulling a full sized pickup. We don’t recommend this tour for several reasons but mostly because of northern Canada, their bad and sometimes dangerous roads and worse campgrounds. Bad water at most campgrounds also, (we went thru a set of 3 water filters about every 3rd day), most have 30amp electricity, some with no sewer and some with no services at all. Wi-Fi is mostly non-existent in Canada except for Tim Horton’s and McDonalds when you can find one. Cell phone coverage is only in towns of about 1,000 residents or more. No cell phone coverage on the roads. You still see a lot of pay phones. Welcome to the 1950’s.

Their “Chip & Seal” road repair means chips in your windshield and seals the dirt to your vehicles. Also, diesel fuel is 65% higher in Canada, we averaged C$1.29 per Liter or about $4.01 per US gallon vs. $2.39 per gallon when we returned to Washington.

What would we recommend if you should want to go to Alaska? Take the Princess Cruise thru Juneau & Skagway AK to see the sights, then on to Seward, AK. Spend a few days there and see the sights, drive to Exit Glacier, etc. Stay at the Best Western, then take the viewing train to Denali Park (beautiful Princess hotel in Denali). Tour Denali Park and go on the rafting trip. Take the Princess optional bus trip to Fairbanks to see the Gold Dredge #8 & Oil Pipeline, the Riverboat ride and the Salmon Bake. Don’t forget North Pole, AK.

Then return to Anchorage via train, rent a car, or a Class C motorhome if you want the motorhome experience, and drive to Homer and Valdez, again staying at the Best Westerns, which looked nice, for a few days each. Go Halibut fishing, take a flight to see the bears and bald eagles in Homer. In Valdez take the boat ride on Prince William Sound out to the Meares and Columbia glaciers, go salmon fishing and on the drive back to Anchorage stop at the Wrangell / St. Elias National Park Information Center and watch or buy the video. We had no idea it was that large and beautiful.

After these trips fly back to the lower 48 out of Anchorage or go back on a cruise ship out of Seward. Two weeks or 3 at most, to take in all the sights, plus the cruise time. 60 days was just too long especially since ½ were in Canada.

You should do the Calgary Stampede and Lake Louise & Moraine Lake another time as a separate trip. It is every year about the 4th of July for a week. The Calgary Stampede was one of our favorite times, and Lake Moraine our favorite lake.

That’s our opinion. If you want to know more, read on. Otherwise, thanks for following us on our RV Tour to Alaska.

If you have followed our trip you know it rained a lot. That kept down the mosquitos at least.

Alaska is amazing. We enjoyed our time in Fairbanks, with the Dredge #8 and the Oil Pipeline, the Riverboat ride and the Salmon Bake and the town of North Pole, AK. Denali was great, except you had to take a Blue Bird converted school bus thru the park with a guide. It turned out ok as the driver/tour guide was informative and spotted animals quickly. We were part of the “30%” club who saw the top of Mt. McKinley, now renamed Mt. Denali, and the 5% club that saw a wolf. Seward was good and we found a nice little place to have fresh grilled Halibut and Salmon every night. Not particularly expensive either. The Sea Life Center was well done and we enjoyed walking around Seward as well as the hike at Exit Glacier. The Salmon fishing was good per our friends, as was the Iditeride and the boat trip to the glaciers that drop into the ocean. Homer was picturesque as we stayed right on the “spit” as it is known, a jetty out into the bay, and had a great view of the Kachemak Bay out our front window. We were very disappointed in the lack of Bald Eagles in Homer, but three of our friends took an expensive seaplane & boat ride to see bears and bald eagles and were not disappointed. They saw plenty and their pics were great. The Halibut fishing trip was cancelled due to high winds and 7 foot seas. They could have gone the next day but had to move on. Valdez is amazing. The boat ride out Prince William Sound was beautiful, with views of the mountains and glaciers, the Alaska Oil Terminal, Meares (a calving glacier) & Columbia, a growing glacier, and all the sea animals. The Halibut Fish Tacos were very good, and right next to our campground. The campground was excellent, well laid out and full service.

All of Alaska is expensive. A side note, if you buy anything in Anchorage there is NO sales tax. (Canada is much, much more expensive even with the exchange rate being in our favor. The 15% to 20% VAT drives up the prices and you never see it in the bill.)

We had a great time in Calgary for the Stampede and enjoyed Lake Louise, Lake Moraine & Emerald Lake. Beautiful places. As to the rest of Canada, north and west of Calgary, Banff / Lake Louise? Sorry, our Canadian friends can have it. Dangerous and Bad roads and even worse campgrounds. You had to stay alert and pay attention every minute on the roads in Canada. Otherwise disaster will strike.

The scenery in northern Canada is just ok, Colorado has better scenery and much better roads. The forest fires up there were due to the ban on logging has devastated northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territories.

The road to Dawson City from Whitehorse, Yukon route 2, is bad and they are re-chipping and sealing it. One of the rigs got a large rock thrown thru their windshields by an 18 wheeler going the other way on this stretch. We got a chip in our motorhome windshield too. They don’t believe in mud flaps / rock guards on pickups, covering rock loads on 18 wheelers and everyone passes on double yellow lines, when they are painted.

The next leg, the “Top of the World Highway” (TotWH) from Dawson City to Chicken AK, is probably the worst dirt and gravel road in North America, especially for RV’s. Don’t attempt it, especially if it is raining or rained the day before. They could fix it but obviously don’t want to. Soft on the edges, no shoulders, and on our side of the road, straight down. The free ferry across the Yukon River was fun for us because we left early and were third in line. If you were at the back of the line, like quite a few of our friends, it was up to a 6 hour wait! Guess they don’t want a bridge. We were told after the TotWH crossing that last year 2 new Newmar coaches rolled off the road and were totaled. Quite a tow bill I would imagine also. We read an article and saw the picture in the local paper in Teslin that one of the other Fantasy Tour caravan’s ahead of us on the way back from Skagway to Teslin, got two wheels off the road and rolled their 36’ motorhome and put them in the hospital. We traveled that road a month before from Teslin to Skagway and could see how that easily could happen. You have to pay attention every minute.

The second worst road in North America for RV’s is the Alaska Highway, Hwy 37 from Watson Lake, YT south toward Stewart, BC. It is just plain dangerous with no shoulders and drop offs, narrow unmarked lanes, wooden one-lane bridges, etc. The Alcan highway from Dawson Creek BC to Delta Junction, AK has an interesting history, but ¼ of it is in really bad shape. They are working on the road but it will be “Chip & Sealed”. Same with most roads in the Yukon Territories and northern British Columbia. They are all bad. About ½ of our group got a cracked windshield on either their RV or toad.

Anyway, we are happy we did the trip but don’t recommend it. It was an expensive, once in a lifetime experience and many of our traveling caravaners agree they would not do it again, and never for the TotWH. At least in a caravan you have a wagon master who should know the route and things to do and a tail gunner to help when things go wrong, which invariably do. Never, ever try the roads to Alaska thru Canada on your own in an RV.

Several in our group have signed up for a Canadian Maritime trip with the same wagon masters in 2017. We are not sure of the caravan lifestyle in general as yes, you can take side trips but like in Homer & Valdez, if the next day is forecasted to be excellent weather you still have to move on to be with the group. Not much flexibility for sure. Another other issue is keeping in shape. Lots of setting, driving and eating. Some days we had nice walks or hikes or bike rides, but no real aerobic workouts.

See you on the road sometime!

Chuck & Sandy

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