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  1. Default Planning a Trip from Alaska to see the lower 48 in the summer of 2013. Any Advice?


    Right now a friend and I are planning a trip from Anchorage, AK where we live to see the lower 48. We will have three months to do this and are looking for for advice on cool places to see and things to do. And how much we need to save up. We don't intend to stay in every state for very long, but we don't want to bypass anything important either. We really want to hit up Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Colorado to see family there. Any suggestions on the best route and things to do along the way would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Along the way

    Hi Shaeyl, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    You don't say when you are planning to take this trip, nor if it will be a round trip. I am assuming it will be soon, and that you will head back home at the end of the three months.

    Having now driven to AK three times, and about to head back south for the third time, may I suggest you look into doing a different route each way. One of the best publications you can get for information on routes and roads to the lower 48, is The Milepost. Although this publication focuses specifically on travelling to AK and back, it is an excellent resource for what there is to see along the way, road conditions, and availability of services. I highly recommend it.

    You will no doubt wish to travel the Alaska Highway, a road of some significance, with a great history, as well as attractions and wildlife. Each of the major towns is spaced roughly a day's drive apart... so think Delta Junction (a little out of your way, but it is where the Alaska Highway officially ended), Tok, Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek (milepost '0'). The stretch between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson is particularly rich in wildlife, and you won't want to rush through that.

    From Dawson Creek you could head down to Jasper, and the spectacular Icefield Parkway.

    The other popular route is down the Cassiar Highway, Hwy 37. This is a slower road, nowhere near as many towns along it, but with spectacular scenery and wildlife. It also gives the opportunity to take the short side trip to Stewart and Hyder; and the Bear Glacier... which comes right up to the road on Hwy 37A. You could follow this by taking the Sea to Sky Highway from Lillooet to Vancouver, before crossing the border into Washington.

    The third alternative, which I have not done, is the Marine Highway. I am told it is a magnificent (albeit costly) trip.

    Leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy this wonderland through which you will be passing.

    As for the lower 48. I suggest you get out a good wall sized map of the US, and start looking at what there is to see that interests you. Once you have some dots on the map, and you see a route developing, we can help you refine the route and fill in the blanks.

    Enjoy the planning.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome aboard RTA! A year in advance is not too soon to start planning a trip of this nature.

    As far as planning your expenses: first you'll need to compute how much you'll need to spend for fuel. It's probably the hardest to cut back on without cutting into your trip mileage. Figure out how many miles you'll use, divide by the average miles-per-gallon that your car gets. That's how many gallons you'll need. Estimate $5/gallon. There's a Fuel Cost Calculator on this website -- it's accurate.

    For overnights, figure out how many nights you will be gone where you are NOT going to be housed with friends or family. To camp, estimate $15-20/night. Hotels for 2 can be had for $50 on up (hubby and I estimate $65/night). Bear in mind that costs in Canada are going to be higher.

    For food, it's so variable. You can try to survive on fast-food for the whole time (I wouldn't recommend it), you can bring food in your car in a cooler and crate, or you can eat out at all sorts of restaurants. Or you can do a combination of things. (On the Alaska Highway, I'd recommend a combination, as you may want lunch where there's a beautiful lake to sit by and no restaurant in sight.)

    One thing that Lifey didn't mention was the ferry down to the Lower 48 (or return). She probably didn't mention it because the cost might be a lot higher than you want to save for. When we went to AK a number of years ago, we looked into doing the ferry in one direction. Back then, the ferry was more expensive than the fuel to drive the Highway. So we did. For us, it was a different view even though it was the same highway. Thats because during the north-bound section of the trip, it was rainy and foggy a lot. South-bound, the sun was out almost the entire time.

    There's a lot to see and do down here in the US. Get a map, lay it out and see what things really interest you. That's the next step.


  4. Default

    Thank you for the advice.

    We plan to leave Early May of 2013 right after the university gets out. The current plan (in it's skeleton form anyway) is a round trip drive around the outer states because we have seen the non coastal/border states in the past. We also have a lot of family there. What we want to do is look into camp grounds and see if there is some sort of national camp ground pass thing (I do not know if that exists but that would be awesome).

    We looked into the ferry system and as soon as we saw how much the price was to ship the car we decided that while we both like the ferry it is a tad out of our price range.

    Our biggest problem at the moment is deciding where exactly we want to go and how much time we want to spend in each place. We are both coming up with a list of 20 things we want to see or do as a start, but if anyone has suggestions we would love to hear them.

    Thanks for all the help

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    It's so hard to make suggestions about what to see! That's one of the reasons this website was created. Take a good look around it and see what types of things interest you. Is it scenic? Try the national parks down here. Is it historical? Every state has its own unique history. Do you have a passion? Perhaps look into those.

    National campground pass ... no such thing, I'm afraid. There is an annual pass to the national parks themselves. It's $80 and will pay for itself if you hit at least 4 of the big parks (who generally charge $20 per carload). But it does not include camping. With at least 11 states in financial hot water at the time, state parks are charging more too. When we checked into camping out in the back of our pick-up, we found state parks that charged as much as $35/night (for NO hookups). OUCH!

    You might take a big USA map, tack it up somewhere, and then start putting post it notes by everything you want to see. Tag where your friends and family are. Sooner or later, it will start to work itself into a usable routing. Once you do that, pop back in here and we can help you with further suggestions and routing help.


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