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  1. #1

    Default First time traveling through Canada from Alaska

    I am planning to drive from Fairbanks, AK to Idaho the first of June. The only part of this trip I've never made is the entire way through Canada, I need to know where the best places to stay are and where fuel up points can be found, any advice from those experiences with traveling the Alcan and Cassiar Hwys would be gratefully appreciated. Also, can anyone tell me what the current fuel rate is in BC and Alberta? Thanks for all your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,798

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The nice thing about the Alcan is that the stops tend to be kind of ready-made, because of how they are spaced out. The first thing you need to do is purchase a copy of The Milepost, which is the guide for any journey on a roadtrip to/from Alaska.

    Right now, you're looking at prices CAN$1.25-1.40/liter, which works out to about US$4.5-$5/gallon .

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks, already bought The Milepost but was looking for some hands on info as a book can only give you so much. I'll be travelling with my kids so didn't want to have to do 12- 16 hour between stops if I could help it, I'm in no real hurry to get anywhere so can take my time and make more frequent stops if available. I wasn't sure how far from Tok to Beaver Creek or if there was anything in between the two that would offer lodging for us, any ideas on that?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,269

    Default

    The 2012 edition of The Milepost is now available.

    It's only 110 miles from Tok to Beaver Creek, and if there's ANYTHING in between them, The Milepost will have it.

    http://www.milepost.com/highway_info/alaska_highway

    DC 1166.5 Historic Milepost 1202, BEAVER CREEK (pop. 112); food, gas, lodging, camping at Buckshot Betty's and Westmark Inn.
    DC 1168.5 Canadian Customs Beaver Creek station.
    DC 1186.3 Historic Milepost 1221. Canada–U.S. International Border; rest area and photo-op.

    The MILEPOST® Log now adds physical mileposts (MP) to log in Alaska.
    DC 1186.8 MP 1221.8 U.S. Customs border station Port Alcan..
    DC 1190.5 MP 1225.5 Border City Motel & RV Park; food, gas, diesel, lodging, RV park.
    DC 1191 MP 1226 Scottie Creek Services; gas, diesel, store, RV park.
    DC 1194 MP 1229 Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
    DC 1214.3 MP 1249.3 Historic Milepost 1254. Deadman Lake (Tetlin NWR) Campground.
    DC 1221.7 MP 1256.7 Lakeview (Tetlin NWR) Campground.
    DC 1229 MP 1264 Northway Junction; campground, gas, store.
    DC 1266.7 MP 1301.7 Historic Milepost 1306 Tetlin Junction. Junction with the Taylor Highway, which leads to Eagle and to Top of the World Highway to Dawson City, YT.
    DC 1278 MP 1313 Alaskan Stoves Campground.
    DC 1278.1 MP 1313.1 Gateway RV Park.
    DC 1278.2 MP K1313.3 Young’s Motel and Fast Eddy’s Restaurant (email).
    DC 1278.4 MP 1313.4 Tok RV Village and Village Gas; camping, gas, diesel.
    DC 1279 MP 1314 Snowshoe Motel and Fine Arts Gifts.
    DC 1279.2 MP 1314.2 Junction of Alaska Highway and Tok Cutoff at TOK (pop. 1,435); all services. Visitor Information. Attraction: Tok Mainstreet Visitors Center.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    2,194

    Default

    Where you stay will have a lot to do with how far you want to travel in one day. Our daily range (two pre-teen girls, towing a fifth wheel, traveling in tandem with my parents in their own rig) was anywhere from 100 miles to 300 miles. The Milepost is so full of information, we stayed at commercial campgrounds and this was a few years ago, so I couldn't recommend any place to stay. Nor could I recommend places to eat for the same reason, and because I usually cooked in my own rig.

    Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Toad River, White Horse, and Delta Junction are the 4 that I can remember staying at. There was another place ... White River, I think ... that we stayed on the way up and the weather was so nice that my husband was allowed to wash the rig. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes came out there.

    I'm not answering this at home, or I'd go get the journal and tell you exactly where we stayed.


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,187

    Default I'm surprised.

    If you already have a copy of The Milepost, have you actually read it? Have you sat down with the book and the map, and follow the text on the map, and all the options along the way? That resource for that particular trip, is probably the best resource for a roadtrip I have ever seen. (I will be using mine for the third time, in a few weeks.)

    What ages are your children? Why not read it with them? Get them excited about the trip, and look for things which will interest them. Even the advertisements are full of information.

    My stops would be Dawson Creek (milepost '0'); Fort Nelson; Watson Lake; Whitehorse; Tok; Delta Junction (milepost 1422 and the official end of the Alcan) and Fairbanks. But each of these places has nearby alternatives which may interest you, and there are many other stops in between them.

    The area from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson in particular is rich with wildlife. You will not want to rush through this. At Beaver Creek, there is lovely little church, an island of peace, where you can go in and rest awhile. A very historic place that boasts of being the most photographed church in the YT.

    Of course, if time permits, there is the option to go south from Haines Junction to Haines, take the ferry to Skagway (maybe even take the scenic railway there) and head back to the Alcan via Carcross.

    But really, all this information is in The Milepost, as well as many other alternatives. I highly recommend that you spend some time just sitting down and studying, not just the routes, but the way The Milepost is laid out. If you understand that, it will be a great help, when you are on the road.

    Enjoy the trip. Might see you along the way.

    Lifey

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks! My kids are 4, 14, and possibly the 16 y/o going with on the trip down. I will be coming back with a car in tow and my 20 and 14 y/o sons along with the 4 and 14 y/o girls. I have started reading the Milepost and have been involving the kids as well, I was planning this trip last year but my father-in-law took a turn for the worst so we had to make an immediate flight down instead. I am looking for some hands on experience that can't be given by just reading a book and trying to get a better feel for where I will be staying, the kids are all great travelers as we do several trips from Fairbanks to Anchorage or Valdez a year on business and pleasure trips.

    Since we will be staying in hotels or B&B's I would like to know which ones to shoot for when calculating how many miles we drive a day, I am estimating we can drive a maximum of 500 miles a day if need be but I also want to take the time to enjoy the drive with the kids. If I know where I have to be and that there's a bed waiting for me at the end I can start making reservations and planning side trips accordingly.

    Looking at the Milepost I was leaning towards spending a day in Takhini Hot Springs or Watson Lake. I have heard the drive down the Cassiar is amazing and was planning that route down and through Edmonton back as I will have the older kids with me and my oldest son can help me drive so we can make more miles if need be. I know the trip through AK well, and through Montana/Idaho like the back of my hand, having grown up going back and forth from northern to southern Idaho. I am planning on staying in Fairmont Hot Springs both going down and coming back, this is a particular family favorite.

    The only part of the entire drive I am completely unfamiliar with is Canada, and I would like to have a better idea which places I am staying at and when I have to leave each day to make it to that destination. I also want to know how many side trips I can make with the kids and still have the energy to make it to the next stopping point, as well as making sure I have ample fuel stops for the side trips.

    Thanks again for all the great info that is coming my way. I still have a couple months to get ready and want family to know I've done my homework and will be fine for the long trip.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,187

    Default No! plan on much slower.

    Quote Originally Posted by kscott View Post
    I am estimating we can drive a maximum of 500 miles a day if need be
    Your speed through Canada is much, much slower than what you are used to... and it is enforced. Besides that, you will not want to fly through all this magnificent country side without really enjoying it. And you are likely to see quite a bit of wildlife on the road. From memory (I don't have The Milepost with me at the moment), the speed is around 85 kph for a large part of your trip. I can't recall any place where it was more than 100 kph. The Canadian Bison which you are likely to see a lot of along and on the road, is an endangered species, and many are killed on the roads each year. Hence the enforcement of slow speeds for most of your trip.

    As a rule of thumb, the places I mentioned above are roughly a day's drive apart. Make sure you also take into account the endless stretches of road construction, pilot cars, and waiting. During those times I make a point of getting to know the folk in the cars in front and behind me. Makes the time pass so much faster. And be sure to allow yourself some time to go to those interesting little side trips to waterfalls, etc. (They are all in The Milepost.)

    In the past I have found that I met the same folk at the end of each day. I have never booked accommodation, and have never spoken to anyone who has. But then, with one exception, they have all been campers. If you are travelling with a larger party it may be advisable to book. You will find descriptions of all accommodation along the way, in The Milepost, and it will be up to date. So I suggest you take your cues from there, and call each of the places which appeal to you.

    I have heard the drive down the Cassiar is amazing ...
    Having driven to Alaska and back twice, I am yet to drive on a road in western Canada which is not amazing. They all are in their own way. And your biggest decision is going to be which amazing route to take. Only you can decide that. I am not sure why you would consider going through Edmondton. Have you thought of taking the Alcan one way and Cassair the other? As far as road condition goes, there is not a great deal of difference.

    I take it you will be driving down the Icefields Parkway, from Jasper to Banff/Lake Louise. That road, although only a couple hundred kms long, deserves a lot of time. There are many sites to be seen along the way - check it out in The Milepost - and much wildlife. The first time I drove it, I mistakenly thought it would take not much more than half a day. I soon realised that even in a week, I could not have seen all I wanted to see. The last time I drove it I allowed myself a very long day, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    ... I would like to have a better idea which places I am staying at and when I have to leave each day to make it to that destination. I also want to know how many side trips I can make with the kids and still have the energy to make it to the next stopping point, as well as making sure I have ample fuel stops for the side trips.
    Fuel is not going to be an issue. As you will see in The Milepost, all the places for fuel are listed there... mile by mile. And really, you are going to be the only one who will know when you run out of steam. It is for this very reason that I do not like to make reservations, but stop for the night, when I have run out of steam... wherever I happen to be.

    Bottom line is, and I hate to keep repeating this, all the information you want to know... IS IN THE MILEPOST!

    If I may, I'd like to turn the tables for a moment, and ask you a few questions, since I am heading to northern ID in a couple of weeks. I plan (though have not yet decided) to go from Bruneau to Sandpoint, and think I would like to head up 55. What can you tell me about the roads north of 55, to Sandpoint. Which would be the most scenic/adventurous/remote or in any other way, unique?

    Fairmont Hot Springs sounds interesting. Is it in ID? I was not able to locate it on my map.

    Lifey

  9. #9

    Default

    I have been thoroughly reading the Milepost and picking the brains of several friends that have driven the route, so I have a little bit better game plan now. Thanks for the insight on the speed through Canada, I had anticipated a much slower pace than usual which is why I was trying to estimate which towns would be feasible to try to reach. I had not however thought about the long road construction delays so might rethink stopping in Tok for the night and getting an early start in the AM to Whitehorse or there abouts.

    As far as your pending trip to the Panhandle of Idaho, yes Sandpoint and surrounding area are wonderful places to visit, I would suggest stopping in either Priest River, or staying on Lake Pond O'Reile, both are excellent places to camp and I'm sure the campgrounds have vastly improved since I have been there. I will make a call to my Uncle who lives there and see what the conditions of 55 are now, last time I was up that way (many years ago) it was a decent road, I have been told they have made improvements since then. From the sounds of it you would really enjoy Cataldo Mission which is on the eastern side of the panhandle as you are coming in from Montana. You will also be going through Wallace which is a big Silver mining town that is rich in history and fun to explore. If you are looking to do some fishing a stop on the St. Joe or the Moyie River is a must.

    Which direction are you coming in from, Washington or Montana? Fairmont Hot Springs is in MT, just above the cut off from Butte, MT, it's not fancy but the atmosphere is great and it has been a stop for my family for years.Here is a link to their website http://www.fairmontmontana.com/ . If you are headed up into the panhandle you will probably like stopping in Bonners Ferry as well. All of that area is still fairly quiet and they are nice get aways, they are not "isolated" per say, but remote enough to make you forget the city for a while, of course, I live in AK now and when we do "isolated" it's four wheeler and fly in isolated :).

    How much of the Pacific Northwest are you planning on exploring? I can give you some great places to go in most of Idaho, as there isn't a whole lot of it I HAVEN'T been in at least once in my life.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,187

    Default The roads less travelled.

    Thanks so much, Kscott. It is northern ID, north of the 45th parralell with which I am not familiar. I have spent quite a bit of time in and around the Sawtooth Recreation Area and south of there. Last visit I drove into MT over Lemhi Pass, a fantastic drive. That is the sort of thing I am looking for. Good blacktops you can get anywhere... it is the other roads, the roads less travelled, which interest me more.

    And no, I'm not into fishing... just as walking more than a couple of hundred metres is out of the question.

    My rough plan, though I tend not to plan much and when I do, it is deciding in the morning where that day may take me. Much like seeing which way the wind blows, and following it. Anyway, my rough plan is to come through WY and NV into ID. May even divert to Hell's Canyon... it looks interesting. Would like to check it out, once I have checked out Bruneau Canyon and Dunes. But who knows, I may not get near either. So long as I know which are the most scenic and / or out of the way routes, I can plan on a day by day basis where I will head.

    Yeah! I know, that is not much help to you, when trying to answer my initial request. But it may give you a guide as to what I am looking for. After Sandpoint, I will need to nip over to Missoula, before heading over the border... somewhere... and heading north on which ever road I fancy that day.

    So tell me, up in northern ID, which are the roads less travelled?

    Looks like Fairmont will have to wait for another trip.

    Lifey

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