By Kevin Hulit
Chief Marketing Officer, Cedar Mountain RVI
The scenery is spectacular. The spaces seem endless. Alaska is in a class all its own when it comes to destinations, and it simply beckons travelers to it. For those faithful to the RV lifestyle, those who enjoy the road and the joy of going somewhere, an RV trip to Alaska will not disappoint.
Wildlife abounds, and true wilderness surrounds. When you can find a place these days that doesn’t have cellular coverage, you know you’ve found something special. When gas stations are unattended, and eagles double as alarm clocks, you have found the frontier. Enjoying it all from your RV is serene, but it takes a lot of planning.
Being prepared is important. There is a lot of space between fueling stations, a lot of road to cover, and of course, a lot of bears. Knowing how to handle each of these before you embark on the journey will greatly enhance the trip by alleviating a good deal of potential stress along the way.
While a trip to Alaska should be everything you decide it should be, here are some tips to consider when planning the long haul.
The Alaska Highway
The Alaska Highway, also called the Alaskan Highway, Alaska-Canadian Highway, or Alcan Highway, was constructed during World War II to connect the lower 48 states to Alaska through Canada. It begins in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon.
The legendary highway was opened to the public in 1948, and after many decades of being a rough, challenging drive, the highway is now entirely paved.
Along the Alcan, you can expect to see snow-capped mountains, spruce forests, wildflowers and tundra, and the best collection of North American wildlife anywhere outside of the zoo. You won’t find many hotels or tourist stops, so planning ahead is essential.
The Milepost is considered the “quintessential” travel guide to Alaska as well as the highways and byways of the north. Known as the “bible of north country travel,” it offers logs of all northern routes, noting road conditions, ferry travel, lodging, camping, fishing, sightseeing and services in Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta and Northwest Territories.
It is important to note that since engineers have been straightening the road’s curve ever since it opened, destinations in the guide don’t always match up to actual mileage.
Alaskan Discovery RV Tours
Traveling Alaska is best in summer months, and getting around to it all can be a challenge in itself. Opting for a tour is a good way to go. Alaskan Discovery RV Tours, based in Anchorage, runs 37-day caravan tours in June and July beginning in Hazelton, British Columbia and ending in Kenai, Alaska.
Tour routes are organized to showcase northern attractions at a comfortable pace, and include sights like mountain glaciers, plenty of wildlife including marine mammals, salmon spawning, artic wildflowers, Northern Lights, midnight sun, totem poles, and native song and dance.
The tours include narration and lectures, RV park accommodations, tours, attractions, events, and guides. The tours welcome pets, provide pet services, and in the event of a breakdown, provide a mechanic to help you get back on the road and rejoin the group.
Many RVers will stay behind after the tour has concluded, doubling back to see favorite sights from the tour, or create adventures of their own.
Alaska State Parks
Like every other state, Alaska is home to breathtaking state parks that don’t disappoint. One site in Fairbanks, the Chena River Recreation Site which is operated by Chena River Services. It is a 29-acre park on the banks of the Chena River that flows through Fairbanks and includes more than 60 campsites for vehicles, 11 of which have electric and water hookups.
Most enticing, however, is the new campground being built near Denali. The campground, the first new state park campground in 20 years, will have 32 sites (back in and pull through) for RVs with electric hookups. According to Ben Ellis, Alaska State Parks director, the campsite has amazing views of the Denali mountain range, and will open in about a year or so.
“The campground remains closed to the public this summer as we build the tent camping area, trails, and interpretative center. We are planning a grand opening June 2017,” Ellis said.
An RV trip to Alaska is a trip without question. The abundance of wildlife, the challenges of planning for its terrain and remoteness, and the majesty of the frontier, make it a trip to remember, but only after it has been had.