Planning the Great Alaska Road Trip by RV
We’re not big planners, however when it comes to driving thousands of miles for four months of epic adventures in Alaska we figured we should sit down and make a few notes.
After spending weeks thinking, reading, researching, soul searching and planning our Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory and Alaska RV trip Nikki and I looked at each other and said “we should share all our planning and researching with our fellow travelers, RVers and dreamers!”
Update!!!! We have completed the trip and you see all the videos, tips, camping locations and more here on our Alaska Bound Page.
By no means is this the ultimate Alaska planning guide or the how to plan for an Alaska road trip with an RV guide, it’s more of a here’s where we are, here’s what we’ve thought of, here’s what we’ve planned for, and here’s what we could really use some help with…guide 🙂
If you’re curious about our Alaska adventures I suggest you bookmark this article and subscribe to our mailing list? This is a living document that will grow and change as our plans come to fruition or fall to pieces, so consider this our: we’ll give it a shot and hopefully you can learn from our Alaska experiences/mistakes article. It will be updated on a regular basis as we research before the Alaska trip, during the Alaska trip and after the Alaska trip.
Maybe you’re wondering what’s the ultimate goal of our Alaska travels? Well, we’re going to put this out there now so we’ve made it public, promised it to our loyal readers and viewers, and therefore we will feel compelled to deliver to the very best of our ability! Here it is…our commitment to you and to ourselves:
- Film a Documentary encompassing the entire trip from the first Canadian Border crossing to the final USA crossing.
- Videos and articles about RV prep and issues that may arise while on the road.
- Videos and articles about our favorite Alaska gear and gadgets.
- Tips and tricks to make your, and our, next Alaska trip easier.
- Video introductions to our favorite places and adventures throughout the trip.
- We want to inspire adventurous travel, that’s the whole reason our website exists in the first place. We want to bring you alongside our Alaska journey to and laugh, learn and maybe even cry with us as we take on our largest and most overwhelming project to date. We hope you’ll learn from our mistakes, our errors and our successes and start planning your very own adventure!
Here’s our planning Map, hover over the pin drops to see our approximate dates, length of stay and “things to do” for each destination currently on our radar. Feel free to recommend additional stops, extended stays, etc. in the comments section at the end of this article, we are all ears at this point because we’re still in research mode. Oh, and if you live in Alaska and want to invite us over for fishing, boating, polar bear watching or even deadly crabbing…please do, we’ll bring the good wine and fresh loaf of Nikki’s homemade bread!
The blue route is the first half of our trip and the orange route is the second half.
Our Alaska BIG Questions
- May 15 Start Date – We’ve read the earliest time to start the journey north is May 15, maybe it’s too early? Maybe we should cross into Canada June 1?
- Roadside Camping – We’ve had countless people tell us “you can just pull of anywhere and camp in your RV”. It seems like this is a fantasy. I’m sure there are rules and restrictions just like the lower 48. Plus, we want real wild camping, not roadside living.
- Camp inside Denali National Park – Apparently getting to camp inside the park takes months of advance reservations. Our feelings are what if the RV breaks down, what if we like another city and want to stay longer, making solid plans can sometimes screw the spontaneous experiences. We’re thinking we’ll just wing it and if we have to stay outside the park then so be it.
- Prudhoe Bay Trip – There’s a chance we might see a polar bear in August-September but it’s a 450 mile drive up a gravel road. Is it worth it? We can always book a day trip from Fairbanks via plane and save ourselves the hassle of driving that long, slow route.
- Inuvik Trip – Another long gravel road through the middle of nowhere. Part of me says driving up this trail will be extremely fulfilling while the other says “is it really worth the time and financial investment”?
- Extended Float or Paddle – There are several opportunities for multi-day kayak and float adventures. Not sure we’re equipped for this type of adventure (RV storage and boarding the cats), but we sure would love to get on a river for a multi-day trip.
- Flight to the Bush – Insanely Expensive are the two words that comes to mind. We’d have to store the RV, board the cats, pay for the flight, accommodations, food, and who knows what else. Will it truly be an authentic & unique experience or just a tourist experience?
- Northern Lights – If we stay till September we might get to see the Northern Lights, on the other hand we might be snowed in and left to freeze! Not sure what we’re going to do yet.
- Ferry or Not to Ferry – We ran the numbers on a short ferry ride from Whittier to Valdez at a cost of $550 for a 6.5 hour trip, or we can drive it for an estimated cost of $160 a 7.5 hour trip! We’re thinking the ferry system might be out of our budget. Skipping the ferry could free up the cash for the flight to the bush?
- Milepost and TourSaver – Everyone says “you gotta purchase the Milepost and the TourSaver coupon booklet!” We’ve been told by Alaska authors and journalists that the milepost is all advertisements and from our experience “city coupons” are typically tourist focused, we’re driving all this way for authentic experiences and I feel these distractions may lead us away from our focus and goals.
The Alaska BIG Bucket List
- Copper River Salmon – My favorite fish and I would love to snag a few of these guys and let Nikki cook ‘em up.
- Grizzly River Feeding – I’ve always wanted to see a grizzly bear fish from a river…but I don’t necessarily want to be standing with hundreds of other spectators while I experience this beauty.
- Float Plane – I don’t know, for some reason I really want to take off and land on the crystal clear waterways of Alaska…just need to figure out the best place to do this.
- King Crab – It’s impossible to beat the taste of fresh Alaskan King Crab, and boy those suckers are gnarly looking, I want to come face to face with giants as I pull up a trap from the bay. Not sure we’ll still be up there for the season but I can still dream!
- Ice Climbing – I’ve heard of novice trips that allow you to ice climb into a glacier, specifically Exit Glacier, this could be one serious thrill!
Dream list of Wildlife to Capture in Photographs
- Polar Bear
- Arctic Fox
- Lynx (doubtful but would be amazing)
Our Alaska Driving Route
Drive up the Rocky Mountain Route – http://www.northtoalaska.com/Maps-and-Routes/Rocky-Mountain-Route.aspx
Dawson Creek to Dawson City – https://goo.gl/maps/Cla9P
- Minimum 15 days of travel and exploration
- At Dawson City add 7 days to explore Dempster Highway and Inuvik (450 mile dirt road)
Chicken to Fairbanks – https://goo.gl/maps/42rZW
- Minimum 5 days of travel and exploration
Fairbanks North – https://goo.gl/maps/4q9zF
- Minimum 10 days to drive and explore
Fairbanks to Kenai Peninsula – https://goo.gl/maps/ws9iX
- Minimum 5 days in Denali NP
- Stock up in Anchorage, Oil Change, repairs, etc.
- Clamming & Fishing Opportunities
- Boat Trip to Kenai National Park
Anchorage to Haines for the Ferry – https://goo.gl/maps/ciy1d OR Drive back to the USA on the Gold Rush Route – http://www.northtoalaska.com/Maps-and-Routes/Inside-Passage-Route.aspx
Our Need to Get Gear List
RV Related – Everything we will need for the new RV(nope, still can’t tell you about it yet) to be picked up sometime after March.
- Power (Lithium Batteries, Solar, Inverter, MPPT Charge Controller, Battery Monitor)
- Rock Guard for Tow Car
- RV Headlight and Fog light protection
- Tire Pressure Monitor System
- Tire Chains
- Spare Tire and Tools to change Tires
- Tire Air Pump with high PSI
- Windshield Insurance Policy
- Extra Canadian RV Insurance
- Additional Roadside Assistance Plan
- Hiking Boots
- Waterproof Boots
- Waterproof Backpack
- “Wicking” Wool Socks
- Rain Gear
- Fishing Gear (pole, line, lures, etc)
- Mosquito Gear
- Mosquito/Bug Tent with “easy up”
- Bear Gear
- Survival Gear (knife, emergency blanket, first aid kit, etc)
- Hiking GPS
- Hiking Emergency Beacon and/or Satellite Tracker and Communicator
- Compact SLR Camera
- “Lifeproof” point and shoot camera
- Gyro, Steadicam or Stabilizer for Cameras
- 2 extra batteries for all cameras
- Portable Shotgun Mic
- Selfie Stick (we promise to use in moderation)
- Call Verizon for pricing and coverage
- “Lifeproof” phone covers
- Canada cell phone plan?
Free and/or inexpensive Government Camping Opportunities
There are 4 “Alaska Public Land Information Centers” that provide information about government camping opportunities throughout Alaska, we will no doubt stop by the first location we reach in Tok, AK.
- State of Alaska
- USFS – United States Forest Service
- US Fish and Wildlife Department
- NPS – National Park System
- BLM – Bureau of Land Management
- City, County and Regional Government
- There are opportunities in Canada as well, we have not researched them at this time
(here is everything we have already written/created videos about on wild camping: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/rv-wild-camping)
Green Initiative and Environmental Stewardship
Let’s face it, driving an RV to discover the untouched wild lands of the Northwest is basically an oxymoron. In our everyday lives we make choices that we feel have a smaller impact on the earth and the local communities, by no means are we even close to perfect when it comes to being “green”, but it’s always on our minds. Since our Alaska trip is all about wildlife, exploration and getting lost in nature we’re taking steps to make both our trip and the documentary a “Carbon Neutral” project. We’re still in the initial stages of this endeavor but here are a few sites I’ve found for calculating our carbon footprint.
Holidays to Consider
- June 06 – Our 9th Wedding Anniversary
- June 20/21 – Summer Solstice
- June 22 – Jason Birthday
- July 01 – Canada Day
- July 04 – Independence Day
***One thing we haven’t really considered at this point is nightlife, breweries, distilleries, coffee roasters, famers markets, farm-to-table restaurants, wineries, or anything city related. If you have any recommendations we’d love to hear them.
If you feel we’re missing something, not spending enough time in a specific city, or generally going about something wrong please let us know. As we like to say “we’re not experts” and by all means if you’ve done this trip, or if you live in an area of Canada or Alaska, please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Our Research Tools:
Our visual inspiration comes from our 2008 week long primitive kayaking trip in Glacier Bay. It was just us, Jason’s mom and two of our best friends. It was our first big back country camping experience with no guide and lots of wild life encounters! These are some of the images we captured pre gone with the wynns…imagine what we will get this summer!