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Old 02-14-2019, 04:03 PM   #1
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Moving To Alaska! Looking for Suggestions

Moving to Alaska next month as my girlfriend and I just got jobs in Fairbanks! Very exciting. We'll be taking the van up there once I finish the interior build. I'm looking for some recommendations with a few things. We'll be there April-October. not sure if we'll be there any longer.

Our current itinerary looks like Boulder, CO ->Truckee, CA->Vancouver, Canaduh->Fairbanks, AK

Van is stock height, 2wd

First things first:

First, I badly need an alignment and new front brake pads. Any recommended shops in Boulder/Denver? Would it be worth it to put in a limited slip for $1500 before I go?

Seeing as we'll be driving up there in March, do you all recommend I keep the blizzak snow tires on, or swap to the all-seasons. The all-weathers have miserable snow traction, but I don't want to run the tread down with ~10k miles of mostly pavement driving on $700 snow tires. I also anticipate a slight mileage boost from the hard compound tires.

On the the fun stuff!

Plans so far are to ski our way West (Aspen, Alta, Snowbird, Squaw, Shasta). After that, we are free for about a month heading North with plans to do a couple night sea kayaking trip near vancouver island. We'll have mountain bikes, climbing gear, and ski mountaineering gear.

Any recommendations after that? Thanks!
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:24 PM   #2
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Go with the limited slip! Carry the snow tires. Change out when you get there. GET A BLOCK HEATER, and a battery tender. Alaska is awesome! It's also humbling.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by gahamby View Post
Go with the limited slip! Carry the snow tires. Change out when you get there. GET A BLOCK HEATER, and a battery tender. Alaska is awesome! It's also humbling.
I think we might be moving back in October, and we will be living in the Van all summer so space is at a premium. It's a diesel so it already has the block heater.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:39 PM   #4
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I have a 2wd with limited slip and can't recommend it highly enough. It gets you a lot of capability for a very reasonable price.
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:16 PM   #5
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Moving To Alaska! Looking for Suggestions

You will see snow at both ends of your trip, possibly substantial, so be prepared for it. And cold temps too. Snow tires would definitely be good for driving up and back, but if you have a newer set of AT tires plus tire chains that would work too. Either way invest in a good set of chains. If it were me I’d buy new AT tires and skip the all-terrains and the snow tires. Or just use the Blizzaks for the entire trip and write it off as a cost of the trip. Bring a tow strap and a small snow shovel in case you need to extricate yourself. Ideally have a fixed tow point front and rear (Harbor Freight has fairly inexpensive tow hooks you can add).

If you plan on taking the Cassiar Hwy up from BC be aware that services are less available than in the Alaska Hwy route. In winter I’d figure out a way to take along a few five gallon fuel cans. Buy the current version of The Milepost guide, too, listing services and road conditions. Don’t assume you’ll have cell phone signal everywhere. Add a CB radio to your truck, either a handheld or installed to talk to trucks if necessary.

Be sure to have appropriate survival gear with you in case you get stuck somewhere.

Go through your van and seal up any holes you may have in the body or floor. Dust and especially mosquitoes can find even the smallest openings! If you are living in the van for the summer invest in a screen door for your side door(s) and possibly front windows. Seriously, when you are in the bush the bugs can be ridiculous!!

We had really good luck finding free places to camp with the iOverlander app. Coupled with the AllStays app we found free spots probably 60% of the time on our 25-day trip from Seattle to Alaska last summer. Be aware that Alaska isn’t quite as friendly to free camping as it used to be, at least near popular sights. Anchorage is very strict and does not allow it at Walmarts, etc. We also got kicked out of a spot in Valdez at 1:00 am and almost in Seward. And unless you are VERY stealth, they will be on to you in your van. BC and Yukon have tons of free spots on the other hand and are very welcoming. Don’t count on campgrounds being open either in the shoulder seasons. See this site for a list of open Alaska state campgrounds: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/open.htm
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:57 PM   #6
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Get some tire chains
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:25 PM   #7
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BW is right on with the Milepost guide...also like the "Ultimate Campground" app. $4.99 for both USA & Canada versions....SO EASY to use and has free/pay, private/public (City/County/State/National/Reserves/BLM) camp areas, boat-in/walk-in/drive in listed...customize options zoom-in/click for info....

Our faves from our '08&'14 adventures ('14 we drove Sportsmobeebs up on our maiden voyage!):

1. Dalton HWY to Prudhoe Bay with oil field tour and dinner at Prudhoe Bay Hotel
(stopping by Coldfoot to camp), tour is ONLY way to get to Arctic Ocean + your WAAAAAY above the Arctic Circle which MOST of the world has NEVER been too...
2. Homer, staying at Mossy Kilcher's Organic Raspberry Farm (sister of the TV Kilchers...) at the 'Seaside' cabin for a couple days, staying on the Spit (yes kinda nasty, but worth a night)
3. Exit Glacier by Seward where you can walk up an touch the glacier at the bottom of it or hike 3+ hours (one way) up to the top of the ice field...
4. Halibut House in Valdez...and the museum is a must lol...and buy some seafood at one of the local packers that is open to the public, for the campsites on your way out of Valdez
5. Staying at the "parking area/campground" at Denali Lookout #2...didn't want to "go into park" nor did we pre-plan/reserve, which is a MUST if you are going for the Three day "lock-in" camping adventure.
6. KTG wanted me to include the Denali HWY...rough, but secluded and BEAUTIFUL!!!! We boondocked two nights on it
7. Charter Halibut fishing out of Ninilchik, AK...two less hours boating to the good areas!
Hope that helps! And welcome to the Forum!
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:10 PM   #8
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Denali Highway is a great drive and highly recommend. Tons of free camping along it. Last summer we lucked out and got a three-night reservation at Teklanika Campground in Denali literally 30 minutes before we got there. The moral of the story is to keep checking the website for last minute cancellations! Nice pay showers at the entrance of Denali too.

Halibut House in Valdez is good, but quality there seems to have fallen over the years. A great, newer alternative is “Old Town Burgers” a few blocks over. Really good food, huge portions, and fair prices. And they have fresh halibut, too. If you can at all swing the cost, a boat tour on PW Sound on the LuLu Belle is not to be missed. This is the best boat tour I’ve ever been on in Alaska. Privately run, one boat, and they more than give you your money’s worth. Skip the Stan Stephens tour and do LuLu Belle instead. Free camping is available just outside of town on the road that the Valdez Airport is on. Drive Pat the airport and you’ll see plenty of gravel pullouts, and the road ends at the foot of the Valdez Glacier where you can free camp (no facilities).
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:29 PM   #9
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Brian, I'm going to be asking you this stuff again one day. Man, I hope it's soon!
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Old 02-15-2019, 11:03 AM   #10
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I just want to emphasize a point that Brian made, and that is to make sure you have some way to hook a tow strap to the front of your van. On my 2007 (with stock front bumper) I was dismayed to find absolutely NOTHING at the front end of the van that I could connect to. I ended up buying an Aluminess bumper just so I could have stout attachment points up front. If you have a receiver hitch for the rear, that's all you need.
People are friendly up there and will be willing to help you if you need to get unstuck - but unless you have something to hook to front and rear, they won't be able to help. Believe me, those stock bumpers are just for show!
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