brings up images of snow, dog sleds, ice, and glaciers; but Alaska is
more than that. It might be described as a frame of mind. No matter
what your visions are when you hear the name of our 49th state, Alaska
Even before we started full timing, we had a goal to
take the "Ultimate RV trip" and visit Alaska. In 2002, the first full
summer of our retirement, we made the ultimate RV trip. We drove our 35
foot Winnebago Adventurer to Alaska and back. We spent about 4 1/2
months away from the "lower 48," and enjoyed every minute of it.
We drove from Bellingham Washington, up the Fraser
River Canyon to Dawson Creek, then the Alaska Highway (ALCAN) into
Alaska. We drove every paved highway in Alaska except for two. We very
seldom made reservations and really had no problem. The great thing
about visiting Alaska by RV by yourself is that you have no schedule.
If you like a place, you can stay longer, if you don't you can leave
when you want. You are on your own to explore what you want and you are
not restricted to a schedule.
By far the best resource for driving to Alaska is
the "Milepost" an annual publication that describes the Alaska Highway,
the various routes through Canada to Dawson Creek, and the highways in
Alaska. When people tell us they want to drive to Alaska, we always
highly recommend the "Milepost." Just make sure you have the most
People also ask us about the roads driving to Alaska
and particularily the Alaska Highway itself. Well, the roads are fine.
The Alaska highway is a two lane, paved highway. In general, it is a
very good road. There are places where there will be road construction.
At those places it will probably be either muddy or dusty. The road
construction could be 10 miles or more. However, you will be escorted
through those places. In the Yukon and in parts of Alaska, you will
find frost heaves. These are areas where the ground has frozen and
melted, actually lifting the road way. The only way to drive the frost
heaves is to go slow, maybe 30 miles an hour. But then you shouldn't be
in a hurry anyway.
Fuel is readily available along the Alaska Highway.
Of course the further North you go, there are fewer places to stop and
fewer gas stations. However, you will generally not have to drive more
than 50 miles between gas stations.
That's another piece of advice. When driving to
Alaska, take you time. Enjoy the wonderful scenery, enjoy the towns
along the way, enjoy the people you meet, We took about two weeks to
drive the approximately 2200 miles from Bellingham, Washington to Delta
Junction, Alaska. We seldom drove more than 200 miles in a day, and we
often spent more than one night in a particular campground. If you are
in a hurry, we would recommend you stay at home.
In Alaska we visited Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage,
Seward, Homer, Glenn Allen, Valdez, Delta Junction, Tok, Chicken,
Skagway, and several other spots. We fished and caught halibut and two
types of salmon and we dug for razor clams. We watched the locals fish
in ways we've never seen before. We saw moose, carribou, bears, eagles,
goats, sheep, and other wildlife. We saw beautiful wild flowers. We
visited local museums, wildlife centers, glaciers, and historical
Did we enjoy our trip, you bet we did. Would we go
back, you bet we would but right now there are too many other places we
want to visit.
We recently met a gentleman who lived in Whitehorse
in the Yukon. He asked about our trip to Canada and Alaska and we told
him how much we enjoyed it. He asked if we had visited Skagway and we
assured him we did and we really liked it. He told us about a couple he
met in Whitehorse and he suggested they visit Skagway. Well, this
couple left Whitehorse about 10:00 AM and were back by late afternoon
(Skagway is about 100 miles from Whitehorse). Our new friends were
astonished that they had returned so soon. Well, we spent about a week
in Skagway. We visited Dyea, wandered around the downtown area,
attended a show about Soapy Smith one of the more colorful past
residents of Skagway, and did a number of other things. The moral of
this part of the story is, take your time, do some research on the area
your visiting (the Milepost will be a good start), and enjoy everything
and everyplace you go.
When we returned from Alaska, we drove back down the Alaska Highway to
Dawson Creek (there was no road construction this time). From Dawson
Creek we drove into Grand Prairie and down the East Side of the
Canadian Rockies. We visited three Canadian National Parks (Jasper,
Banff, and Watertown), and enjoyed all three. We finally re-entered the
lower 48 in late October.
Our advice to people who are thinking about driving to Alaska is "JUST
DO IT." BUT, take your time, don't be on a schedule, relax and enjoy
the drive, the scenery, the people, and the culture.
Let us finish this paper with a poem. This poem was written by a man we
met at the Manchester Beach KOA, by the name of Bill Brown. He was
traveling the lower 48 trying to sell his children's books about
Alaska. We don't know what happened after he left Manchester but we
certainly hope he and his wonderful family are well on his way to fame
Bill Brown, F/V Orca copyright 2001
Let me tell you about the place I
live, and others that live here too.
In many ways we’re just like
you. In many ways we’re not.
We’re still what you once were,
when your land too, was young.
People are few and far between.
Hot water is a luxury.
When someone says, “Will you be
well, where else would we be?
Our salmon doesn’t come in a
They swim right up our streams.
The only sounds we hear at
night, we hear in our dreams.
Mountain peaks and valleys low,
glaciers with rivers wide.
These are the things we see when
we look outside.
Moose get in our gardens.
They’re hard to shoo away.
It’s hard to shoo something
seven feet tall and send it on its way.
How about bears? We have them
too. Largest in the world.
Alaska brown or Kodiak, they’ll give you a scare.
One thousand pounds of claw and teeth, wrap it all in fur.
Shoo that out of your garden. Believe me, you wouldn’t dare.
What’s that up in the sky? And
in those trees right there?
Oh, they’re just eagles. They’re all across our land.
Our skies are blue our air is
We take for granted, things you’ve never seen.
Swans that raise their little
ones just around that bend. Geese in v’s are up above.
Beavers made that pound. Caribou still roam our plains in herds that
We know our neighbors and their
kids, because they’re friends of ours.
We’re independent and stubborn.
We’ll tell you what we think.
But we’ll stand right beside you is you start to sink.
Helly Hanson and rubber boots
are the fashions that we wear.
Wool on wool with cotton inside. We all dress they same.
When it’s thirty-five below outside, thinking of fashion would be
If you ever think you would like
to see this place that I call home.
Start heading north and watch the sky. The auroras will show the way.
Bring your kids, even your dog,
and bring your camera too.
Every day you’re here, you’ll see things, back home you’ll have to
This is Alaska. A land that’s
new. A land that’s still wild and free.
A land that we Alaskans think, is the way it’s supposed to be.