Road Trip to Alaska from Vancouver Island
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Mar 29, 2013 11:30 PM Last Post By: ytadventuremag
Dec 18, 2011 8:55 PM
Victoria BC, Canada
To: Alaska - Anchorage or some other relatively populated area for 4th of July celebrations!
When: Late June, early July
Time to journey there and back: 10 days
Method: Driving trusty Toyota 4 runner.
Who: Myself and 3 friends.
Budget: Minimal - We plan on tenting / couch surfing as much as possible, no hotels etc.. Food / Beer / Gas is the only thing we'd like to pay for.
Since we do not have a lot of time we'd like to take a decent scenic route with some cool things "along the way" but I can't find an online trip planner or even a blog from someone who has done this and has detailed advice. What's a good route? Trip stories / experiences would be great!
How abundant are provincial / state parks that allow camping for minimal $$?
What essential gear would you recommend beyond the normal spare parts, bug stuff, first aid, extra gas can(s) food/emergency supplies.
What's the weather like? I am not a huge fan of sweltering heat but summer days are ok.
Is 10 days a rediculous timeframe to be able to see some good stuff? We are all in it for the driving really but it's also nice to "do" something.
The truck will be tuned up and gone over in the weeks prior but should anything happen are there any reliable mechanics/garages to know about on the route up?
Dec 18, 2011 9:28 PM
1It's about 4 days of pure driving one way to Anchorage. Ten days total gives you very little time to play with. It'd be much more reasonable to just go to Skagway, or Haines, or perhaps catch a ferry to Juneau from one of those two places. Skagway and Juneau will be lively on the 4th of July, probably more so than Anchorage despite being smaller.
The most scenic route is taking the ferries up the coast, but for pure driving from Victoria then it makes the most sense to go Hwy 1 - Hwy 97 - Cassiar Highway - Alaska Highway. They're mostly good quality roads with well-spaced gas stations and campgrounds, so you really don't need anything out of the ordinary.
Weather: Good rain gear and warm clothing are essential. I've encountered very little sun/warmth during my trips.
Dec 18, 2011 9:42 PM
Dec 19, 2011 3:08 PM
Dec 19, 2011 4:46 PM
4We did the route from Vancouver to Prudhoe Bay on the far north coast (Arctic Ocean). You won't get that far in your limited time. But have a look at our road reports and photos: http://www.lifewellspent.com/TRAVEL/CANADA/Alaska/index.htm
We were in Skagway on July 4. Dead as a doornail. Very disappointing. But apparently there had been a great party in Haines ( a ferry ride away) on the 4th. Unfortunately we did not get THERE till the 5th.
Anyway ....you are going to be driving and driving and driving. If it is in your budget. the quickest and nicest way for you to get there from the island would be to drive up to Port Hardy and take the ferry to Prince Rupert. Make sure you get reservations though because that ferry is packed in the summer. From Rupert you could head up the Stewart Cassiar Hwy, then Whitehorse ...then decide from there how much further you can venture before running out of time.
The weather will be warm/cool. Not a LOT of rain when were were there (July/Aug) but it did rain sometimes for a few days at a time and very hard. Make sure you are prepared for it or you'll be miserable.
Canada - which is where you will be most of the trip does not have much free camping. Alaska, on the other hand, encourages it, building waysides along the highwyas where you can camp. I never saw anyone actually pitching a tent there - these are just parking lots with an outhouse. Truckers and RVers use them. There is no water or anything, just a dirt parking lot and an outhouse.
There are lots of provincial, territorial, state parks and they are not usually expensive - $12-30.
Bugs can be a big problem so you need to have bug spray, some kind of screened tent to eat/sleep/relax in. As far as you are going the roads are all paved, so won't need second spare. Always drive on the top end of your tank because gas stations can be few and far between.There is always someone coming along though, so don't worry about being isolated without help.
Anyway, read the road reports and you'll get a better idea of conditions and what you might see in 10 days.
Dec 19, 2011 7:42 PM
5Thanks for all the advice. It appears Juneau is good with everyone. I'd hope to avoid long ferry trips because it's supposed to be a driving road trip and also BC ferries is not cheap usually. I talked to my companions and we are happy to sacrifice a couple 16-20 hour days driving if it gives us a little more time to relax later on. What would be the best part of the trip to drive right through in the night? Any really really boring stretches we can marathon drive through?
Dec 19, 2011 8:50 PM
Dec 19, 2011 9:00 PM
7I just learned you can't drive right to Juneau (travel newb), you must take a ferry and it appears the cost is anywhere from $250-400. We'd honestly prefer to drive and drive than take a ferry.
New plan is victoria-fort nelson-skagway-victoria.
It's really that dangerous to drive at night? I understand there is a lot of wildlife but I didn't think it'd keep people off the roads.
Dec 19, 2011 9:04 PM
Dec 19, 2011 9:20 PM
9This wasn't intended to be a funny thread....but OP, you're really quite clueless, and the combination of you and carracar is hilarious.
Start by getting a good road map and studying the squiggly lines: those are roads. Anywhere you don't find a road, you can't drive: this includes your proposed route home from Skagway to Victoria. I don't know how Fort Nelson entered your calculations, but that's a loooonnnnggg distance out of your way, and you barely had time to get to Anchorage and back without the detour. An earlier poster suggested the Cassiar Highway. Check it out.
Contrary to rumor, you can actually drive at night if you want. I do, and so do lots of others. The chances of hitting a moose, deer or other large mammal increase at night, but it doesn't happen to most people; the real point is that it keeps overcautious drivers like carracar off the roads, leaving more room for the rest of us. What's more, if you ever do succeed in getting into the far north, "night" is fairly brief that time of year, like four hours of darkness with a lot of twilight.
But really: we all recognize that you're not making this trip without substantial adjustments in your plans. Why not study a map first, not later? Googling for blogs from any of the tens of thousands of drivers who make this trip each summer will also help.
Dec 19, 2011 9:29 PM
Dec 19, 2011 10:04 PM
11Always looking for ways to be of service. First beer's on me, if you're ever in the neighborhood. I'm right here astride the Alaska Marine Highway.
Dec 19, 2011 10:37 PM
12Of course you CAN drive at night. In fact, driving in the twilight that passes for a summer night is magical.It brings the moose and bear out to graze at the sides of the roads. And therin lies the issue. Roadbeds are often built up over the muskeg, shoulders slope steeply into grassy corridors - kept clear of trees/shrubs by the highways depts. This attracts the evening grazers. All would be fine if they had any brains and stayed in the grassy corridors but they don't. For reasons known only to him a big bull moose will suddenly burst up the shoulder, bounding directly in front of your vehicle. If you are not going too fast and/or your reflexes are good and/or luck is with you, you may be able to avoid the interaction.
I'll never forget my grandfather being delivered to the house early one morning, a moose strapped to the back of the tow truck where his car should have been. He'd been drivng through with night with some buddies. In the dark fall night he didn't the see the moose as fast as he should have so we were now eating moose for the rest of the winter. I don't think grandpa considered it a fair exchange though because the moose totalled the car.
On our last trip north we had one late night road encounter with a big grizzly that was way too close for comfort and several with huge moose that were equally close. We DO drive at night but we really play attention - both of us - and reduce our speed whenever there is evidence of animals grazing.
But if I'm telling stories about confrontations with wildlife I have to tell you about my favourite one. Driving the outback, a humongous red kangaroo was pacing the car. This was very cool. Till the danged thing swerved in front of the car ...and that was the end of car AND the kangaroo. Very sad.
Dec 20, 2011 7:55 AM
13OP, as tongue in cheek ridicule and thoughtful advice seem as "water off a ducks back" May I now suggest you obtain a copy of the Alaska Milepost Guide... THE, definitive source...All EXISTING routes are covered as are most all driving related topics...After a good read(perhaps under the Lions Gate Bridge). Be welcomed back... IF you are then able, to develop specific and informed queries...carracar
Dec 20, 2011 1:44 PM
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