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Alaska RV Road Trip

Alaska RV Road Trip Finale – BC Canada & Crossing The Border

This is it, the very last stretch of our grand  Alaska Bound road tripHyder was our last Alaskan hurrah and now we’re south bound in British Columbia headed for the border crossing in Vancouver.

It’s around 1000 miles from Stewart to Vancouver, BC and there may be 1000 things worth exploring within this route but, for us the circumstances aren’t right.  What I mean by that is we’re on a deadline to get back to the lower 48 for a job (because sadly we’re not rich or retired) and it’s late in the season which means everything is closing for winter.

One big takeaway that life on the road has taught us is: it’s impossible to hit every attraction, especially in the height of its season. Which means we’re always having to pick and choose what we want to see and do this season and save the rest for a future trip.  For us, this particular stretch of pavement will have to be properly explored another time.

However, this doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the journey! While we may not have fully explored this stretch of land, we still managed to find a few adventures (and bears) along the way.

Whew…that was a lot of miles covered in one video! Just in case you missed it, here are some of our stand out highlights from the route:

Twin Falls and Smithers

Smithers is a quaint little mountain town with a surprisingly wonderful café called Two Sisters that I recommend checking out, but the big attraction for us here is Twin Falls. There are a few lovely and free (yes free) dry camping sites at the trailhead and a pleasantly easy trail that leads to the spectacular falls.

108 Heritage Site

This was a neat historical area that we don’t know a lot about (other than its an old road house site from the gold rush days) because sadly we passed by too late in the day to take a tour. Even still it was a fun little walkabout and we liked peeking in the windows. It’s right along highway 97 around…you’ll never guess…mile 108. 🙂

Hells Gate

Hells Gate was a major disappointment for us.  We expected something much grander (especially with all the advertising they do) but it seemed like nothing more than a tourist trap. Especially this time of year when the water flow was not exciting and a lot of their shops and restaurants were closed…yet the price of admission was still the full rate. Didn’t make any sense to us.  Sure trams are neat but this one is super short and from the looks of it, it’s nothing compared to the Jasper Sky Tram we took on the way north to Alaska. Luckily just 10km past Hells Gate we found an unexpected trail and bridge that turned out to be a fantastic view (we’d be willing to bet just as good if not better than Hells Gate). Oh, and the price of admission couldn’t be beat (its free)! Look for a tiny provincial park called Alexandra Bridge. It has a day use area and there’s parking on both sides of the highway.

Hope

We’ve visited this little town in the past (our friends the RV Geeks live near here) and we have always liked this area of BC.  It’s dotted with charming small towns (like Harrison Hot Springs and Abbotsford), scenic views, lush forests, loads of farm land and mountains in every direction.  This charming dot on the map is mostly known for its quirky wood carvings throughout town and as a filming location of Rambo (and they literally rolled out the red carpet for us).

 

Vancouver

Vancouver has long been one of our favorite big cites.  It has so many draws I don’t even know where to begin and if I got started it would require its own blog post, or two, or three. Rather than ramble on I will just say this; visit and take the time to get lost here more than once. This city is beautiful by day and stunning by night. We typically start our trips off with a buzz at 49th Parallel coffee shop and then go from there.

Vancouver British Columbia

Vancouver Island

In all our visits to Vancouver over the years we’ve never been to Vancouver Island.  So, this time we decided to change that. We found a campground near the ferry (it wasn’t glamours), left the RV and hopped on the boat for an overnight walkabout.  We didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this island but we got enough of a taste to know it deserves a nice long visit. Victoria has the big city feel, great food, interesting neighborhoods and a unique water based life. Now this is a place we could really dive into!

Crossing the Border into the USA

Border crossings are not that big of a deal but we always get a tad antsy when we’re crossing with our entire house. With all our years of travel and border crossings you’d think we would’ve learned to clear everything fresh out before crossing. No fresh anything…no produce, no meats, no plants, no nothing. Instead we always seem to absentmindedly decide to go grocery shopping. What is wrong with us?!

Many agriculture products are prohibited because they may carry plant pests and foreign animal diseases.  At this particular moment I swear everything was a no go.  We had to toss out so much food!  And even more frustrating as they are throwing our organic avocados into the trash bag as we watch I ask “what if we made guacamole?” Their response “That would have been fine, its the seed you can’t bring into the USA!”  Talk about a knife to the heart!

To avoid this, the border agent suggested calling in the day before you plan to cross the border and asking What is currently not allowed back into the US. It all changes so often the government doesn’t keep the info on the web up to date.  Call this APHIS Customer Service Call Center: 1-844-820-2234  If you have never crossed a USA border, and you’re not sure what to expect, you can find a majority of the basic Agricultural Border Crossing information on this USDA Customs Website.

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Can you believe its over!?! It was one epic summer and one of our all time favorite road trips. We know we’ll make it back again someday, and we know lots of you are headed that way in the future. If you have any tips, favorite stops or Alaska/Canada road trip stories to share…we want to hear them! Tell us in the comments below.

 

Road Report

Fuel Prices – Fuel is least expensive in the USA so we crossed with as little fuel as possible.  In BC the fuel was least expensive in Prince George & Abbotsford (and both have a Costco with the absolute cheapest fuel).
Road Conditions – Because it’s the end of the season they’ve had all summer to work on the roads.  We didn’t hit much construction and we didn’t hit any rough/dirt roads, seemed like everything was in great condition.
Weather – Winter is slowly beginning to settle in and rain has become more common than we’d like.  Highs were around 60°F and lows dipped around 30°F.
Dates Visited – September 8 – September 20

 

See all our Alaska Travels and Tips here: #ALASKABOUND

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (50)

  • Mimi

    I adore Chicken, Alaska. Had a lovely chat there with the Postmistress–who was quite surprised that I could easily speell Ptarmigan (the original name of the town, and changed because noone could spell it!).

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  • David

    I can’t watch your video any more because you are running around in bear country with out any protection and that is because you are Democrats. That’s got to affect your thinking about firearms.

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  • Mike Shepherd

    firewood from each country is not allowed into the other. Even though the firewood i bought in Vermont was clearly marked as a product of Canad I had to get rid of it before entering Canada. So I had to turnaround and reenter the US but the US guy said the firewood wasn’t allowed back into the US. Took almost 2 hours of back and forth between the two customs agents before I was allowed to take it to a campground close to the border and donate it!

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  • Ron Lee

    Rather disappointed you had no video on the Yukon. It’s like it doesn’t exist. Over 1600 miles of nuthin. Thanks for subscribing Canadians.

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  • Jonathan

    I agree with what Kathy says above. Victoria is a great place but is often all people see of Vancouver Island and there is so much more north of there. If you do get back to explore again give it a week on the island at least. That amount of time will give allow you to check out some of the island and its beauty and great food, beer, wine and coffee spots. Also makes the RV fees for the ferry more worth while. Please check out this web site for some info on hikes food and activities outside Victoria http://vancouverislandbeyondvictoria.com
    Keep up the great work and enjoy your travels.

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  • Michele

    So nice to see you in my neck of the woods! Next time you plan a trip to Vancouver Island I highly recommend that you do the Northern half. It is beautiful with lots of good hiking, fishing, kayaking and whale watching.

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  • John S.

    So glad you found some BC bears. Did you know that they can read license plates and only come out for tourists, especially ones with Texas plates. (smiley face)

    Also, Prince George was quite because on weekends all the residents are either out having fun in the woods or prepping their back yard ice rinks. (A son lives there and this is not far from the truth!)

    For the cost, Hell’s Gate is an overrated tourist stop. Last time I paid the fees give a year’s admission; but that is small comfort for 99.99% of visitors who are just driving by. There IS a trail down to the river, a good walk down but a healthy hike up. (Some information: http://forums.clubtread.com/27-british-columbia/29420-hells-gate-trail.html)

    Sad to hear about the food waste at the border, but good tip for the rest of us.

    Thanks for your time and talents to keep us informed and entertained. I really do admire how you can remember so much detail from three and four months ago. I love the videos and photos.

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  • Mike MacPhee

    Absolutely proper that US Customs would confiscate all your citrus. Those damn Canuck orange farmers are wreaking havoc with good ol’ ‘Mercan producers.

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    • John S.

      We have orange farmers? Where? (We love oranges.)

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      • Mike MacPhee

        Perhaps I should have added a /s sarcasm tag, and admitted that I, too, am a Canuck. Still, the point remains U.S Customs has no idea where those oranges have been. Florida, perhaps, or maybe even California (although I think they have pretty much expunged all the groves from that area).

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  • Jason,
    We have lived in Alaska for the last 40+ years and traveled all its roads and the Alcan many times. Your series on Alaska has perfectely captured the essence and sprit of our beautiful state. Congratulations and next time stop by and see us. Have fun in Florida!

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  • Denise F

    I don’t know why it took so long to really understand the phrase “Tourist trap”, but with the description of what you found at Hells Gate, I had that ah ha moment! What a bummer to have to pay for the whole experience and receive just an “appetizer” (or should I say appe-teaser!) We just moved to Yakima, WA (a.k.a. Hops capital of the world!), and our next adventure will be crossing the border into Canada. I am so glad you let me know just what to expect. Tossing food…especially organics and avocados…would make me very sad. So glad you found parts of the trip that made it worth it. Victoria Island sounds like a great place to explore more. I look forward to you someday pulling up there in your boat with another report for us e-tag-along-travelers! Hugs!

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  • Hi Nikki and Jason (Singa / Cleo), your videos are a true inspiration for anyone looking for an adventure. Your love for each other really shows in all your videos. Both of you have amazing talent in front of and behind the lenses. All relationships have trials and tribulations even more living in an RV 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Your videos and pictures of Alaska gave me goose bumps and the big WOW factor (one day hopefully) I commend both of you for your tenacity. Recently I sent you a message on twitter regarding advice on future destinations. Being Canadian, ah I just had to pipe in. The east coast of Canada is a truly amazing place if your take the time to explore from NB with the highest tides in the world, Cabot trail to PEI, Newfoundland and more. Then moving down through Maine (which I have not been) would really be an amazing adventure.
    Before I go I wanted to ask you just a few questions if you have time. I have been researching RVs for 2 years and plan to purchase one in 2-4 years when my partner and I retire. We are both 56 and have known each other since grade 7. Guess you could call us childhood sweethearts ah lol. (OH were both males)
    Would you purchase a New or Used Class RV?
    What type of RV would you purchase A/B +
    Would you purchase a Gas or Diesel?
    What Brand of RV gives you the best bang for your buck? (In Canadian dollars ah)

    Ps if you ever drive through the Barrie Ontario Canada area gives us a shout , will provide a great cup of Timmys and fill up your fresh water tank.
    Thank You In Advance
    Timothy M. Foss
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada

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  • Roger

    Wow! What a trip, and the videos and still photos, thank you.

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  • Terry

    Thanks for the wonderful updates. We met you at the Abbottsford RV show a couple of years ago. If you ever get a chance, we found an RV park we love. It’s Ripple Rock RV Resort at Brown’s Bay. It overlooks a marina with a restaurant…..All you care to eat Dungeness crabs on the weekends. Only down side is the access road is more like a wash board. Come visit us here in Ocean City, Maryland. Close to Assateague Island with their wild ponies. RV camping available.

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  • Michael Beal

    Absolutely a great series. We will be headed North in 2017. Thanks for the help and inspiration.
    Mike

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  • T C Spencer

    USDA Customs Website – https://www.aphis.usda.gov
    US Customs and Border Protection
    Travelers Declare the Following Items
    Fruits and Vegetables
    Plants and Cut Flowers
    Meat and Animal Products
    Live Animals – Pets
    What did US Customs say about your cats?

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  • Joe the computer guy

    Bravo. And as others have said, bitter sweet. Even more bitter sweet knowing the rv adventures are winding down. I’m in the keys the week and recalling your trip here last winter. Looking forward to you recaps on the sailing adventure ahead. Love to see the learning how to sail videos…

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      • Joe the computer guy

        Was on the mainland last night, staying just on the other side of Marathon and doing some biking maybe tomorrow. What a wild ride today. Gusts were in the 40-50 mph range and hitting the rv broadside. Rained most of the day. Key West on Monday and no other plans beyond that.
        You’re not taking the RV again to the keys? Keys to Alaska and back to the Keys?!?! Dats a lot of miles

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  • William (Bill) Weaver

    Watching your last of the Alaska trip post was bitter sweet. It was like having a long visit with great friends (you and Alaska) and saying goodbye and not knowing when you will see them again. Why should something so amazing leave you feeling sad. Screw that feeling! I am going to start planning my next trip. Planning for a trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself. You guys are great and the memories that you shared with us are very appreciated. We are all sending you love and waiting on your next adventure. Thank you.

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  • Kathy

    Love all your videos about your trip. Wished you could have spent a long time on Vancouver Island, not Victoria Island. If you travel north on the island you will find fishing, high mountain hiking, mountain biking, and much, much more. Victoria is great but it is such a small part of the island. Next time maybe!!!!

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  • Sheila Hagadone

    Hey Jason & Nikki!!!
    I really, really love it when I check my email and there’s an email from YOU!!!
    But I really, really hate it when the video is over!?
    It’s like we’re good friends but I don’t even know you. Weird, huh?
    You could make a video every day and I’d watch it!
    (I just wish I could speak back at cha).
    Weren’t you scared that your cats were going to jump out the window & go after the bear?
    I’m sorry you lost all your food AND your plants!
    Bummer! With all the homeless people, you’d think they could find a place to donate it. What a waste!!!
    Can’t wait till I hear from you again!
    (Don’t be too long….)
    Your “electronic” friend, Sheila

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  • That last word should be indeed.

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  • We loved Smithers and camped all by ourselves for free at Twin Falls. A very lucky find need! ?

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  • Kathy

    I loved your videos! I’m from BC so it made me homesick watching. Thank you for sharing!
    btw…Were you really in Prince George? Downtown Prince is a good sized place…over 70,000 population.
    Again, thanks for trip, looking forward to seeing your travels on the catamaran.

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  • Cathy Lackey

    As always I love you videos, you two have a knack for making the viewers feel like we are there with you. It must have been a incredible summer. Now I want to visit Alaska desperately.

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  • James Wedo

    It has been over 15 years since I backpacked for 2 months with hitchhiking and camping in nature from Fairbanks down and through the ferry system of Alaska. I am eve n new to think about a R.V. but you are both great and I thank you for your first class tour through my favorite state…I will miss you both as you change to adventure by sail but have me thinking about being a new person to R.V. ing

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  • Charlie

    Don’t go!

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  • Melinda

    Loved your video of the last leg of your Alaska trip. I am also very grateful for all of your useful information and practical tips. The stunning scenery captured on video is a bonus. I can’t believe you are giving this up for a boat, hopefully, your time on the sea won’t be too long. Nikki, your solo trip video was adorable.

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  • Excellent resource….jotted down many notes about places to stop and the normal “tourist traps” to avoid. Including the “double rainbow spot” Plan a trip up there this summer. Question? Have flown to AK. (North Pole) to visit family, kind of know the area. Have camped in bear country before (Smoky’s, Shenandoah, Northern PA. state parks…) We will be camping in a “hybrid” trailer. Do you see any problems camping along the pull offs or your type of wild camp type of spots. Our camping preference has always been 70% state parks the more rural the better ( electric if possible, but not always) 20% national parks ( no electric) and maybe 10% private campgrounds.

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  • Joyce and John Barnes

    John and I have enjoyed your videos and newsletters. Loved your Alaska trip as we probably won’t get to go there. Thank you for sharing. We look forward to more adventures with you

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  • Martine

    I really couldn’t say it any better than the 2 posts ahead of me.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

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  • Michael

    “Vancouver Island”. Not “Victoria Island” 🙂

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  • Rick Garboden

    I just want to say a big thank you for taking us all along on your wonderful trip this past summer to Alaska and back. I feel as though I was there with you the whole trip. Beautiful coverage in video, photo and your own personal account of each and every adventure. You both are amazing.

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  • Such great photos! Makes me want to go on a road trip!

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  • We’ve said it before, but it bears (yes, bears!) repeating. Your epic video and blog series on RVing to Alaska should be required reading/viewing for anyone considering the trip… and even for those not considering it, since they will once they see what you’ve experienced. Thank you so much for all your obvious hard work, research, video, writing and editing skills that you brought to bear (another bear!) on this epic project. You’ve paved the way for the rest of us to have an easier and more fulfilling experience when our time comes to head to the Great White North. Thank you. Thank you.

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