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Old 01-18-2008, 08:12 AM   #1
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TWOLOST: Alaska Or Bust in 2008

My wife and I are in the initial planning stages mapping out our 08 SMB trip from Seattle to Alaska and back. I have spent a fair amount of time in Southeast Alaska, but have never been any further west than Tok. Other than fun, scenery, wildlife, photo opportunities, etc... the basic guidelines of this trip will be to:

1) See as much of the rest of the state as we can in the time allotted.
2) Keep the day-to-day destinations under 150 miles - for the majority of the AK portion of the trip.
3) Have at least one set of back-to-back days in each region (see graphic) where there are zero required travel miles.
4) Avoid cruise line hot spots where possible.

The areas outlined in the below map are the basic regions we wish to explore. The numbers within each outlined area represent the approximate number of full days we have allocated to each region.

If you have experience traveling/living in Alaska and are willing to share places - accessible by road - that simply should not be missed (scenery, wildlife, remoteness, etc...) we would love to hear your recommendations. The same goes for places to avoid.



---Bruce--- (
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:36 AM   #2
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I am also planning a trip to Alaska this summer with my family of 4 in our SMB. We have 6 weeks scheduled for the trip. Aside from general areas I want to spend time in and a return section on a ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert, I haven't planned much out yet.

I have only been to Alaska once before in the late 70's in our families IH Scout II. It was 1400 miles of dirt / gravel road each way then with my mother and two brothers. We always spent our summers tent camping and backpacking. While we don't backpack now, we are planning a lot of day long hikes throughout our trip this summer. That trip still stand out as one of the best I have ever taken.

Aside from recommendations similar to what TwoLost has asked, has anyone taken a float plane trip out to Kodiak to view the bears? I've always wanted to see the Kodiak brown bears, but it is a rather pricey side trip. I'm hoping a couple day hikes in Denali NP will reveal as many grizzlies as my previous trip did when we spent a week backpacking there.

Thanks -

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Old 01-18-2008, 12:57 PM   #3
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Awesome plan TwoLost, I cant wait for the detailed itinerary, photos, and logbook entries. Dont let us down!!! Love the zone concept too and looks like you have charted all the right places.

I've never been up there but on my list ,just not in 08'. For us, Vancouver Island and BC is as far north as we'll get this year. I know Ace Brown was recently up there in his SMB (for sale now-in classifieds) and may be of some assistance. He's a member you can find him on the member list.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:14 AM   #4
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A roundtrip drive to Alaska is also on our list. It has been on my list since before we were married, but it will likely be a couple more years before we can execute. Our drive will be a bit longer starting in Central Texas, but it should be loads of fun. ,,, and we don't have our SMB yet...

We too look forward to your trip reports and photos.

Blaze a trail and let us know what to avoid and what must bee seen.
Greg in Austin
2008 Ford 6.0PSD EB/E-PH SMB 4X4 Aluminess f/r bumpers (13.5mpg avg, 15mpg hwy) 52k miles [Texas McBeast]
2006 Toyota Prius (48 to 68 mpg) 120k miles [Penelope]
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:41 AM   #5
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Trip to AK

You have to go to Homer, the drinking town with a fishing problem. My wife lived there for 20 years. We have a 5 acre plot of land there that would be a great place to camp of the beaten path. If you are interested let me know and I will give you directions to the spot. (4x4 trail to great views) I can't wait to get back up to AK in a SMB.
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:51 PM   #6
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If you plan on driving in Denali N.P. there's a strict vehicle limit so there's a lottery on who get's to bring their own vehicle into the park. There's a great tour bus system for everyone else. Looo into it early and get your name on the list.

Two things we really enjoyed while in Alaska were the sightseeing flight around Denali (especially since the top was covered in clouds the entire time), and the Alaskan Railroad, which we took from Anchorage to Denali. A nice relaxing ride, and lots of time to see the lifeline of Alaska which delivers mail and supplies to people who live along the route.

4th of July fireworks in the Alaskan twilight were quite interesting too.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 01-20-2008, 10:57 PM   #7
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Determined the route...

Well, we worked all weekend to finalize our route (now on revision #7) and here is what we have finally arrived at:

Departure day is not scheduled until a number of months from now - which will hopefully give me enough time to tweak the van and test our other gear. I am finding all kinds of good tips here on the forum that I will no doubt put to good use too.

Homer is on the list and Denali NP is on the list as well. I did a little research on the web and it looks like the lottery for traveling within Denali NP with your personal vehicle does not take place until mid September (using last year as a guide) which might be too late in the year for us this trip. We are currently looking into staying at Teklanika Campground (located inside the park itself... but we would still be restricted to using shuttle bus service to move around like everyone else).

Thanks for the offer and all of the suggestions/info. We will do our best to reciprocate...

---Bruce--- (
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:20 AM   #8
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Twolost -

I've roughed out our trip as well and have come to the conclusion that 6 weeks is not enough time. Wish I could swing 8 weeks away from work! I have us in most of the areas you have selected as well except for the run up to Deadhorse. That is a long haul and I would rather have a more leisurely pace to areas south of Fairbanks. I'm a little envious that you are going that far north and will be interested to hear if the drive was worth it after you go.

I only have three spots I need to be at by certain dates. I've already reserved our spot at Teklanika campground arriving on July 1. I also need to reserve the ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert as soon as they get the Summer 2008 schedule available (mid-Feb.). The third reservation will be a day trip bear viewing flight out of Homer to Katmai NP, but I think I have more time to make that reservation.

We are also contemplating "hopping off" the ferry at Prince of Whales Island for a couple nights. Has anyone here visited POW Island? It sounds like a pretty cool place to poke around. With some schedule tweaking I can pick up the couple nights on the island.

Of course our schedule is dependent on no more 6.0 PSD problems! That is my biggest fear given its lack of reliability over the last 3 months.


- 2005 EB50 6.0PSD - SMB 4x4
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:33 PM   #9
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I lived in Alaska for 10 years - 5 in the Anchorage area and 5 in Valdez.

We used to travel the Alcan every year during our vacations. Most of the time it was driving the full length at least one way. Depending if it was going, or coming, we would pick up the Alaska Ferry system in either Haines, or Prince Rupert. I think coming home by the Ferry was the way to go because it was such a relaxing way to "end" the trip.

As far as places to go in Alaska, we used to go to Tangle Lakes which is basically in the area of Denali N.P. here is a description:

The Tangle Lakes Region

The only road link to Mount McKinley National Park from 1957 when it opened until the completion of the Parks Highway in 1972, the 135-mile-long Denali Highway now connects the Parks with the Richardson Highway north of Anchorage. It offers the traveler two possibilities for access to Tangle Lakes. The first choice is to enter from the west via the town of Cantwell, at Milepost 209 of the Parks Highway. The second option is to begin on the eastern end from milepost 185 of the Richardson Highway, a road famous for its hummocks turned to corduroy by winter frost heaves.

From Cantwell, the drive to Tangle Lakes is a 100-plus-mile marathon on a narrow gravel road, so most anglers use the Richardson Highway entrance on the east. From there it’s only 22 miles on a paved road to reach the water. The paved section takes off from the tiny hamlet of Paxson, where a famous lodge serves the best hamburgers and pie for miles around, and ends at the Tangle Lakes/Tangle River area of the highway.

Besides fishing we would go out into the blueberry bushes in the surrounding hills and basically cook everything blueberry you could think of. Beautiful scenery...

In Valdez there are many things to see. Down by the High School is a road which leads up a canyon to an old mine or mill. The road was a little dangerous so we usually walked. Prince William Sound is always a good choice - Sawmill bay, Jacks bay, etc. - were always teeming with salmon, and you could usually see some bears walking along the beach. On the way out of town, in the canyon, was Bridalveil Falls. It's a little better looking during the winter (great ice climbing), but worth a look. As you get out of the canyon and just before you start up the road to the pass is a large valley. The mountains around this area are used in the Extreme Skiing championships. As you go up the mountain there was a dirt road which turned off and reportedly leads off to Cordova, but I can't say anthing about the road because we never took it (Cordova is accessed by boat and plane).

Glenallen is mostly just a halfway point between Valdez and Anchorage. We used to stay there on our way. This was the coldest place during our drives to Anchorage on some occasions - coldest was 70 below in calm air one winter. There used to be a restaurant called the Gunsight Mountain Lodge on the road to Anchorage, but I don't know if its still there.

I'll write more later....

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Old 03-09-2008, 01:06 PM   #10
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alaska in an SMB

I guarantee you won't go just once...we've been do need clothes for 3 seasons, bug nets and repellant, and take your own laundry supplies
as sometimes the laundromat supplies are for info: that drive
up thru Canada is really nice either way...when we go we prefer to go the
route called the cassier highway behibd the coast range #37 and a side trip to Stewart/Hyder is a must if ur there lat august, early sept for the
bears...From Dawson Creek to Jct 37 on the alaska hwy is not really that
interesting (at least to us) miles and miles of miles and miles...since you said you wanted short days to see things. Your senses will be overloaded
as you go north and every turn will tempt you. The trip to Prudhoe is ard-
uous and will test your sure to get out of the way of the haul trucks and keep them windows up, dust and guides cover almost everything else.
have a good trip, take pictures and savour the experience
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