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  1. #1

    Default Upcoming Alaska trip

    I'm looking for tips from anyone who has taken the alcan, and Dalton highways. I just got the perfect roadtrip vehicle, and I'm planning to make the drive to Deadhorse, probably summer, 2013. I will be driving a conversion van, taking food with me and probably sleeping in the van(still undecided on that one.) Anyway, does anyone have any advice on making the most of this trip?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The Milepost is your guide.

    Hi,

    Your first acquisition, if you do not already have it, is to purchase a copy of The Milepost. It is the bible of all those who take the trek north. The 2013 edition will not be out till March, but the 2012 edition should still be around. You could try clicking on 'shop' on the green bar above. (If you choose to buy a used copy, make sure the map is with it. It is essential!)

    Be aware, the James W Dalton Highway is hard on a vehicle. Be well prepared. You may like to check out the field report of my 2012 trip, which included a drive to Deadhorse, in a conversion van.

    This was my third trip to and through AK, on which I took the Cassiar heading north and came back down via Yellowknife. On previous trips I have travelled the complete length of the Alcan as well as the Klondike and other Northern roads. My 2009 trip is here.

    If you have any further questions, feel free to ask. Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

    (Lifey: hippyman has been a member of this forum longer than you-- so although I'm sure he appreciates the welcome back -- he's not a newbie)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-01-2013 at 07:24 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Sleeping in your conversion van shouldn't be too big of a deal. You can always pull into a motel when you have a yearning for a little bit more space. :-)

    Lifey suggested the Milepost, and I will second that suggestion! It is invaluable as it goes mile-by-mile and has listings for motels, restaurants, fuel stations (important in some areas), conversion tables (miles vs kilometers, liters to gallons, and more of that). The map is definitely important!

    When you cross into Canada, you're allowed to have 7 days worth of food with you. There are grocery stores in most of the towns along the way, but the smaller towns have more expensive groceries. I believe we picked up food in Dawson Creek and Whitehorse, and then again in Fairbanks. We picked up soda in one smaller town in between Dawson Creek and Whitehorse, but found it horribly expensive! Not sure if it's still the same way, but Whitehorse had a bottle-your-own-wine place. We thought that was kinda cool.

    A trip down to Skagway, from Whitehorse, is definitely a look into both beauty and history. Bear in mind that there's a border crossing in between.


    Donna

  4. #4

    Default

    I've read that parts of the AlCan highway, which I'm thinking about taking to get me from Texas, are unpaved. I'm curious, what does this mean(gravel, dirt, etc?) I don't want to tear my car up too bad, after all.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Those sections that are "unpaved" at this date, are under construction. On the AlCan, there are two seasons: winter, and construction. So there are always going to be sections that are unpaved. It usually means gravel. Take it SLOW in those sections, and do NOT follow a tractor-trailer or RV closely.

    Make sure that your vehicle insurance has decent coverage for windshields. There is a 90% chance that somewhere along the way, your windshield will be hit by a flying rock -- even on the pavement! Most of the shops along the AlCan are really good about being able to fix a ding without getting your insurance involved (and cheaply), but you may get hit enough to warrant an entire new piece of glass. (Our recommendation: don't get it fixed until you have to, because you could get hit again.)


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default 'Paved'

    Technically, the Alaska Highway is now paved for its entire length, but its location and remoteness mean that 'paved' is relative. It is not, and never will be, a four-lane divided highway or even a meticulously maintained, wide, two-lane road. Weather and use by heavy trucks will mean that there will almost always be short sections in need of repair with potholes and breaks in the asphalt covering common. Even in the best of times, sections of it are narrow and winding with no center line, let alone divider.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The Milepost has the answers.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippyman View Post
    I've read that parts of the AlCan highway .... are unpaved. I'm curious, what does this mean(gravel, dirt, etc?)
    Those details are pretty well all in The Milepost. As mentioned above, don't expect multi lane high speed highways. Be prepared for the sections of narrow, potholed mountain passes. Be prepared to sit behind a slow moving truck or RV for many kms. Be prepared for the awful ride over the permafrost waves. For all that, it is a great road - a great drive.

    What you will not find in The Milepost is the inevitable hold ups due to wildfires. Each time I have travelled up north, I have struck wildfire holdups somewhere, either in Canada or AK. Then there are the holdups for wildlife, which roams free and has right of way, at all times. Speed limits are slow and enforced, for that very reason. Some of the wildlife is on the threatened or endangered list.

    Maybe I was lucky, but in three trips to and from AK, and all through AK, I have never had a stone hit my windscreen. That did not happen until I got on the road just outside of Yellowknife NWT. But be aware, especially on the haul road, your vehicle will be tested. There is no way around it. If you read the link I posted, you will get some idea of how harsh the environment up there can be on vehicles. If the wellbeing of your vehicle is your top priority, you'd be better of renting another in Fairbanks. I believe there is a firm which rents vehicles to drive the Dalton at something like $250 per day, plus extras. I did the Dalton in five days. It can be done in fewer, just depends on how much you want to see.

    But it is a heck of a drive.

    Lifey

  8. #8

    Default

    I actually feel more comfortable on smaller roads, most of the time. I just got on a road in Nevada once, that was terrible...hills, curves, cliffs, one lane in some places...my brakes started smoking, Is this highway that bad?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Back to The Milepost.

    Hey hippy, get hold of a copy of The Milepost first. You will get a much clearer picture of what you will be facing, what the roads are like and how you will best cope with them.

    The Alcan alone is 1500 miles, so there is a great deal of variation all along it. Impossible to here go into detail of just what is where, and so on. Believe me, The Milepost will answer your questions, and inform you of a great deal of which you have not even thought.

    Good driving techniques will never have the brakes smoking. Use the engine to slow down and hold the vehicle.

    Lifey

  10. #10

    Default

    Excuse me if it is already released, but, when does the 2013 version of milepost come out?

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