Vancouver to Alaska!
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Feb 8, 2013 9:21 PM Last Post By: ItchyFeetCanadian
Jan 10, 2013 11:43 AM
This year I'm able to take off a couple of months and I'm hoping to travel from Vancouver to somewhere in Alaska. I have been looking at different areas that I'd like to visit but every time I've travelled word of mouth has uncovered some of the best places I have been. This is my first experience with this site, so I was wondering if anyone had made a similar trip at some point and whether they would reccomend certain places worth a visit if I can squeeze them in. I'm very much in to trekking and canoeing, well actually anything that involves me being outdoors. I would love to camp out for a few nights as well. I'm looking to go sometime in July. Any tips on anything places to stay/visit or things to try food wise will all be welcome.
Cheers for any replies!
Jan 10, 2013 1:58 PM
1We did the trip two years ago, wonderful time. Every corner you go around is another photo oppty. I posted road reports and photos on my website. Scroll down to USA and you'll see the listing for these reports.
Full disclosure: I've also written a book on road tripping through northern Canada and Alaska that is listed on the website - but there is tons of info and photos for free there too.
Jan 10, 2013 2:08 PM
Jan 10, 2013 2:14 PM
Jan 11, 2013 9:56 AM
4Hi there carracar,
I'm looking to us buses and trains although if you think its worth me investing in my own set of wheels then I would certainly consider it. It will only be me on this trip though and renting can be very expensive for just one person. I will hopfully be taking my motorbike license later this year so thats also another option. I'm hoping to keep the budget decent so I'll be staying in budget accomadation and camping when and if possible. Have you done this trip yourself?
Jan 11, 2013 10:07 AM
I've only had chance for a quick browse so far as I'm just head back out the door. Just wanted to say thanks for the reply there looks like a great deal of info on the site you sent me. When will your new site be ready I would love to have a look through it? I'm sure you probably get asked this a lot but how easy was it to get started as a travel writer? I have been travelling now for just over a decade. My longest trip is around nine months around southeast asia (a well trodden path I know) but I try to grab a month a year and I have always wanted to make more of my love for travel. I have recently started to get in to photography as well. Well I best go for now. Cheers!
Jan 11, 2013 11:27 AM
6We lived in Yukon without a car for much of 2012, here's how we saw the area. Car hire is costly for longer journeys due to limited mileage and high excess charges but public transport is possible.
From Vancouver northwards, you have a few options. Either take the Alaska Marine Highway System out of Bellingham, WA or the Greyhound to Prince Rupert, BC and pick the AMHS up there. Prince Rupert can also be reached out of Port Hardy, Vancouver Island by BC Ferries but getting to there from the southern ports where the ferries from Vancouver arrive by public transport is not something I know about. Greyhound also goes to Whitehorse, YT but it takes several days of non-stop bus travel.
Last year the AMHS did a good deal for hop-on hop-off travel up the Alaskan panhandle for foot passengers. Food on the AMHS is a bit basic, bring your own and use their hot water and microwave ovens for free instead. There's plenty of hostels all over Alaska and Yukon or you can camp if you're bear aware. Local libraries and Safeway stores provide free wifi, get a Safeway card for their food deals in Alaska. Camping gas for backpacker stoves can be found in Juneau, Whitehorse, Fairbanks and Anchorage but don't count on it anywhere else. Remember to check in camping fuel at the paint locker on the ferries. Local buses can be found in bigger places on the panhandle such as Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. Foot passenger space is pretty easy to book, car space not so much and it does cost a bit in peak season. Motorcycles are cheap in comparison as you pay by the size of your vehicle. Kayaks, canoes and bicycles also have smaller fees attached.
From the north of the panhandle, you can cross into Yukon from Alaska at Skagway. Either take the bus all the way to Whitehorse or take the train to Carcross and the bus onwards there. If you want, you can also cross into Canada on the Chilkoot trail and then do the train-bus combo onwards.
Whitehorse has a large campground and two hostels (one good, one bad). Whitehorse also has a bus network, cycle lanes, Asian food and exceptionally good sports, arts and library facilities for a town of 25,000. From here you can hire a car to visit villages like Teslin or Atlin or drive the loop to Haines, AK via the Alaska Highway and Kluane National Park, returning by ferry to Skagway and driving back to Whitehorse via Carcross. This takes about three days but can be done within the free mileage limits of local car hire. Whitehorse Subaru are usually the cheapest game in town for car hire if you don't mind old hatchbacks! They also don't mind if you cross the border and back again.
Out of Whitehorse you can either arrange a canoe tour or hire downriver to Dawson City, or take the Husky Bus instead. If you need to return a hired canoe or kayak to Whitehorse, speak to Jesse at Husky Bus as they also move freight frequently and it might save you on the charges some of the canoe hire companies will make for this service.
From Dawson City, Val and Dan's Alaska-Yukon Trails bus service takes the Top of the World Highway over to Fairbanks, AK. Car hire is available from all the big chains there and in Anchorage. From Fairbanks you can also take the train or bus to Anchorage via Denali National Park and explore more of mainland Alaska by bus. You can also take the AMHS out to the Aleutian islands or back down to the panhandle and eventually return to Bellingham.
The scenery is amazing, you will see the midnight sun in July. Wherever you travel you won't be disappointed!
Jan 11, 2013 12:07 PM
7In answer to #4... Some years ago the wife & I drove her class "B" Camper on a BC/Southern Alaska tour in Sept/Oct.. We first drove to Vancouver for a day or two then on past Whistler To a camp near Lillooet. We then took a interesting 500 Mi. side trip into Bella Coola... Back on the main road & passing(quickly) Prince Rupert turning on the 37, stopped in Stewart/Hyder... Continuing then on the 37 to Whitehorse we drove into Haines. We parked the camper at the ferry dock & took the boat to Juneau where we actually had clear weather ! The day after returning to Haynes we put the rig on the ferry to Skagway...We enjoyed the town on the one day a week it's not packed by cruise ship hoards... Next day driving back to Whitehorse, the ALCAN drive home was ahead. Taking our time, with a extended pause at Laird Hot Springs, we passed again on Rupert and Followed the Yellowhead Highway into Jasper...To be continued... carracar
Jan 11, 2013 2:09 PM
8The Yellowhead Pass gave us a chance to get out of the Van for a hike to Berg Lake for a view of Mt.Robson(happily"out" for the day)...A two day drive along the Icefields highway took us back to BC. Crossing into the Idaho Panhandle we then returned to Oregon... On this trip we were "on the road 45 days and 10.000 miles... Fuel, was the tours greatest expense...This is the sort of trip that a small personally owned "camper" used for the purposes intended, is worth the expense...Secluded camping, protected from both, large animals & small insects,can be found most anywhere enroute...A self prepared, healthy, budget wise diet can be maintained... Road food in Alaska is generally in a word, undistinguished ! In Haynes, although the fall Salmon run was in process & the bears were enjoying fresh fish... It could not be found in local eateries!!! As a aspiring journalist this form of travel shoiud be attractive to the OP,as it provides the chance for repose when one is compelled to write...I'll suggest...To find good material to write about... ya gotta get OFF the bus...carracar
Jan 11, 2013 3:59 PM
9Milliskevin: regarding your question about becoming a travel writer. I have been employed in the publishing business my whole life - now aged 61. I started as a writer/editor continuing eventually to being a publications director and content manager of some pretty big intl websites. So writing/publishing has always been part of who I am.
As I got closer to retirement (aged 53 for me) I realized that I wanted to get far away from managing budgets and people, back more to roots. When you are a writer it is an inescapable part of who you are. Its like being a musician. You cannot NOT write or make music. So I had always been writing and we traveled a lot so for years I'd been submitting travel pieces to papers and magazines. Some were published, some not. What quickly became obvious though is that travel writing does not pay well. Even if you are a full time writer- like guide books, for example, the pay will never equal what you would make in the more administrative end of publishing.
So I was not going to make a lot of money with the travel writing. It would have to be for love and income tax deductions :) The other factor about writing for magazines and newspapers is that you work your heart out on a piece and 24 hours after it is published it is in the bottom of the canary cage. I wanted something with more longevity.
So for about 10 years now I've had a travel website where I can publish my pieces about traveling around the world. They live on forever. As a result of the site I get contracts to write content for tourism sites and this can actually pay VERY well if it is a government site. In terms of securing these contracts, the website is like my CV. The organization can see what I can do.
This year I turned my Alaska blogs and whole lot more research into a print book and that has been selling well. I'm in the process of converting it into an e-book and building a new site to support road tripping specfically. I will put another book out on roadtripping through southern Africa later this year as I've had so many people contact me for info about how to go about this.
So it's a good life - not a terribly lucrative one so far. I am retired and live on a pension/investments. Travel writing is mostly for love. As is photography. I have tens of thousands of great photos from everywhere in the world and the new site will display a lot of them. But again, that is mostly for love. I have sold photos to companies that use them in tourism oriented products as well as museums but I've never begun to recoup the costs of the photograpy.
We travel 6 mos of the year because we love to and my biggest motivation is just the desire to share the wonder of it all and encourage people to do it themselves - just like my piano playing :)
Feb 8, 2013 9:21 PM
10Hi there milliskevin,
I'm a Canadian gal (Vancouver raised and currently living in Alberta) and I'm hoping to make a trip north to Whitehorse later this summer/early fall. I've lived in northern BC (Fort Nelson), driven to the NWT, and done some driving between my hometown and the remote northern communities where we've lived. It looks like you're getting a lot of useful feedback on this site. I honestly think that due to the vast geographical distances that you'll be travelling, you might want to skip the motorcycle unless it's for short road trips, particularly due to the abundant wildlife that you're going to encounter up north. The roads in the far north are paved and well-maintained, I just worry that it will be a challenge to bring your camping gear (you'll be able to find tons of cheap camping). I also can't imagine how sore your bum's going to get sitting on a motorcycle day after day! Maybe you can team up with some like-minded travellers at a hostel and rent a car? If you are leaning heavily towards the bus, take a look at travel times in comparison to driving and let the time versus cost analysis help make your decision.
Personally, I have not had the opportunity to drive up BC's north coast to Alaska, but we have driven via central BC (Prince George route). I have to say honestly, it's a really scenically boring route via Prince George, and I would really consider taking the coastal route instead.
Best of luck with your travel plans!
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