Our Alaska RV Tour – Conclusion
Our Alaska RV Tour was a great trip, of the bucket list variety. We traveled over 7000 kilometers in 36 days, Driving time of about 90 hours, an average of 2.5 hours per day.
A circle route starting in southern BC heading north on highway 97. Then west on highway 16, north along the Cassiar highway to the Yukon Border, from here we drove the Alaska Hwy. to Whitehorse and then the Klondike Hwy. to Dawson City.
From Dawson City, we climbed to the Top of the World Hwy into Alaska, through Chicken and west back to the Alaska Hwy. returning to Whitehorse.
From Whitehorse, we followed the Alaska Hwy. southeast into BC and then south to Dawson Creek the historic beginning of the Alaska Hwy.
From Dawson Creek, we headed southwest on BC Hwy. 97 through Prince George returning home to southern BC.
We left home August 23 and arrived back September 30. The weather was not perfect, cool and rainy at times, but overall typical for the north. Maybe a mid-summer tour could provide better weather, but the bugs would be worse.
Lynda and I traveled in our truck and 9 1/2 foot camper while towing a utility trailer containing firewood, extra fuel, spare tires, and tools.
Henry and Allyson also traveled in a camper, 11 foot. The extra 1 1/2 feet makes a huge difference although it added 1000 lbs. to their load. More weight means more fuel. Henry and Allyson also towed a 14′ boat.
Ralph and Lois towed their 5th wheel trailer, it quickly became the evening hangout when the weather turned bad.
Traveling in a camper was okay although bad weather days were not fun, a bit cramped. Ralph brought a collapsible shelter perfect for passing showers, although the wind could be a problem.
Climbing in and out of a camper can be a pain, a good set of steps is essential.
The trip took us through wilderness areas with many miles between services and accommodations. Most of the towns are small with minimum tourist facilities. Supplies were not a problem, our plan was to restock at the larger towns, like Prince George, Smithers, and Whitehorse.
There was never a problem finding fuel or a place to camp. Supplies and fuel are more expensive in the north, but not crazy expensive. Wine was the most expensive, a 3-liter box of cardboardey was 30 % higher than in southern BC. The cost of fuel is directly related to how far north you travel an increase of about 30% as well.
Traveling with larger RVs could be problematic, most of the RV parks don’t have large camp spots. I’m not saying its impossible to travel north in a large RV, but more planning is necessary. However, the BC Provincial Parks and the Yukon Government Campgrounds had plenty of room for big rigs, (at least the parks we camped in did).
The only section of highway that may be challenging for a large rig is on the top of the world highway from the Yukon/Alaska border to Chicken. The road surface is gravel and narrow with tight turns. Again, not impossible but challenging and slow going.
When we planned the trip, bugs were a concern, everything we read commented on the bug problem. In the end, bugs were not an issue, only a couple of campgrounds greeted us with pests, Whitehorse comes to mind. Monster noseeums that didn’t bite just buzzed around. An advantage of traveling in the fall.
The highways were good for the most part, we encountered several areas of road construction delaying us briefly. Traffic was almost non-existent except for the section from Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek increased traffic but not enough to slow travel.
The lack of wildlife was a disappointment, although we didn’t travel early mornings or during dusk when wildlife is more likely to be active. Of course, it was hunting season, the wildlife seemed to know and disappear.
Fishing was great, by the end of the trip, we had dropped a line in seven lakes. Every lake was successful except for one, we probably could have caught fish there as well if the had rain quit. We caught over 80 fish in total, all a decent size, one to four pounds. Our weekly fish fry consumed 40 the rest we froze to take home.
If fishing is your plan a boat is necessary. Henry’s boat is a 14′ aluminum with a front console and windshield, it handled the large lakes easily. A downrigger is a must on many of the lakes, the only way to get deep enough for Lake Trout.
Traveling the north after the end of September is not recommended, chances of running into snow increases dramatically also many services may be closed.
The highlight of the trip other than the fishing was the scenery, especially the northern BC Rocky mountains. Next is Dawson City with its authentic buildings and dance hall.
Top of the World highway is a great drive with spectacular views from the top of the world. The gravel surface highway follows the ridge of a mountain range definitely giving the feeling of being on the top of the world.
The most disappointing stop for me was Whitehorse, little remains of the Yukon’s golden era. The Klondike, a paddle wheeler on the banks of the Yukon river is the only indication of the gold rush.
Hyder and Chicken Alaska were also not what we expected, plenty of hype but not much substance.
The scenery along the highway to Stewart, BC, and Hyder, Alaska made the detour worthwhile. Being Hyderized was a waste of time, a ritual from the past the bar reluctantly tolerates.
Chicken, of course, you cannot avoid, it’s at the end of the Top of the World highway.
The bottom line, it was a great trip and probably more enjoyable with friends. Would I take the trip again? Probably not, near our home in BC we have spectacular scenery and good fishing almost equal to northern BC and Alaska.
Would I recommend the trip? Definitely. The scenery alone is worth the drive.
Regrets – I regret we didn’t travel farther into Alaska. The train from Whitehorse to Skagway, Alaska would have been great, although expensive.
Visiting the North Pole, taking pictures of the town and seeing Santa would have been a hoot. A visit to Anchorage might have been interesting as well.
Making the trip in reverse may have worked slightly better. By the time we reached our northern most point, after Dawson City, the group was tired and nervous of encountering snow. We probably should have traveled faster in the beginning to allow more time in Alaska.
Early fall, (September) seems like the perfect time to travel north, bugs are not an issue, traffic is light and all services are open.