There are a lot of things to consider when planning a trip to the great lands of the north, Alaska and Yukon Territory. Do you want to drive both ways? Drive one way, ferry the other? Ship your RV?, Fly-drive? Cruise-drive?, Rent?, I could go on and on about the options. The following excerpt from “Rambling by RV Through Alaska and Yukon Territory”, by Nyla Walsh can help you make that discussion. The more you put into planning your trip to Alaska, the more enjoyable your trip will be. I am not talking about planning your trip hour by hour, just the overall basics. One of the first things you need to understand about Alaska is its size. When we were on the road promoting cruises and cruise tours to Alaska and Yukon Territory, one of the analogies we used was a road atlas. It is something that everyone is use to using. Have you ever noticed that every state fits a page? And some of the big states even get 2 pages? The one we used as an example gave Alaska 1/2 page! Alaska is 1/5th the size of the lower 48 states and has more coastline than all 3 coasts combined. You will find that distances between points will be further and take longer than you might think.
First you must decide on what you want to see and what modes of transportation you will take during your trip. For many folks a cruise on one of the many luxury cruise ships that leave from Seattle or Vancouver is their first introduction to what is waiting for them up north. Cursing to Alaska is the most scenic cruising in the world, but you will only see 1% of Alaska and none of the Yukon if that is all you do. Cruising coupled with an organized land tour is a good way to experience the Great Land without the concerns of going it on your own. It gives you a taste, without the worry.
There are many other ways to travel, such as, fly to Anchorage or Fairbanks and rent a RV for your adventure. Some folks will cruise one way rent a RV for a week or two and then fly the other way. If you have your own RV you could choose to drive both directions, take the Alaska State Ferry one way and drive the other, or ship your rig via Totem Ocean Trailer Express, known as TOAT, and fly or cruise to or from. If you decide to ship your rig via TOAT you would need to deliver it to Tacoma, Washington or Anchorage, Alaska. There are also organized caravans that will do all the planning for you, such as your itinerary including all your campsites, some entertainment, and there is a Wagon Master to keep everything going well and provide information to make your trip more interesting. By the end of the trip you will have made lots of new friends too. We talked to several people that bought a smaller rig just for their trip to Alaska, to save ware and tear on their primary RV.
Being that Nyla and I have both worked cruise ships and cruised to Alaska many times we wanted to concentrate on the land portion of the north. The organized cruise tours and land tours can give a good over view, and an excellent way to visit the Great Lands for the first timers, giving you a better understanding of what you will want to go back to see on your own. For us, there were those special places that we would like to stop at and stay forever, figuratively speaking. When I planned our trip, I laid it out in one-week sections of about 600-800 miles. That would allow us to travel an average of 150 miles a day and have 2 extra days to use as we wished. I did not want to have any fixed time schedules to meet, but as our plans progressed, a few did creep in. [1.] our son flew in to meet us in Anchorage for a few weeks of fishing [2.] we made reservations in Denali National Park to ensure that we would get to camp in the interior of the park and [3.] our overnight hotel stay in Deadhorse. Sometimes we did not use the extra days, but there were times when we got some place that was just too nice and we stayed longer, because we did not have a, too tight schedule.
A word to the driver! Remember if you slow down and follow the rules of driving on adverse roads, your rigs will come back in good shape. The stories you hear of rigs being shaken to pieces on the roads up north don’t have to be the norm, if only you will pay attention to the conditions!
To find out more about traveling in Alaska and Yukon Territory pick up a copy of “Rambling by RV Through Alaska and Yukon Territory”, by Nyla Walsh. It is full of interesting information, stories, history, facts, and a few laughs along the way. Available at RVDriveSmart.com.