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Thread: North to Alaska

  1. Default North to Alaska

    it's been a long time since i have posted on this forum, but in the past I received some good advice here. The only road trip I still really want to take is to drive to Alaska (I may not want to drive back, but I might). I'm getting up in years (77), but my wife and I are still fit, and in good health, so I'm sure we could do it. We live in East TN so it would be a long haul from here. I am thinking of flying to Seattle, or Vancouver, and renting a car for the trip, drop it off in Fairbanks, and fly home. That way we would not be covering any ground we have seen before. We have been to the west on driving trips many times.

    Right now I am in the possibility stage, as i am not sure how to get started on this. I have the time, and i can afford it, but what is the best time? is it a good idea at all? Is there a better way? it might help to say I am looking for a bit of adventure.

    Anybody done this? Was it worth it? Any ideas, or advice?

    Thanks, Clay

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome back to RTA!

    The first thing that came to my mind -- rather than renting a car (which could cost you a pretty hefty one-way drop off fee), why not drive in one direction and then take the ferry back? The ferry is into WA, so you'd still have the drive back from WA to east TN. Then you'd have the majestic scenery of the Alaska Panhandle and the western coast of Canada, your car safely underneath you while you relax on the deck, etc. The ONLY disadvantage to the ferry is the overnights.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I think the rental car could be your biggest hurdle, especially trying to go one way. I highly doubt you'll find any major company that will allow you to drop the car off in Alaska. If it's possible at all, I'd guess you'd have better luck renting in AK, and returning in the lower 48.

    Another option might be to drive one way, and put the car on the Ferry (Alaska Marine Highway) for the return trip to the US to give you two very different trips to/from Alaska.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    The only one way vehicle rental from Seattle to Fairbanks I'm aware of is a U-Haul truck. However, if you don't want to drive your own car from TN, you could rent a car in Seattle for a round trip, going up the Alcan one way and taking the ferry back as already suggested.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Been there, done that, three times.... planning it again.

    Quote Originally Posted by johntommybob View Post
    I'm getting up in years (77), but my wife and I are still fit, and in good health, so I'm sure we could do it.
    Hi Clay. I have driven from the lower 48 to Alaska and back three times, and am seriously thinking of going again next year, I can't see your age as any issue. I too remember WWII, and at least you have the benefit of not having any health issues.

    That way we would not be covering any ground we have seen before.
    There is a variety of routes to and from Alaska (one of which is the ferry), with only one small section which needs to be driven whichever way you choose to go. My trips have taken me over most of the highways which lead to AK, through Canada, which in itself is stunning.

    Right now I am in the possibility stage, as i am not sure how to get started on this. I have the time, and i can afford it, but what is the best time? is it a good idea at all?
    By far the best thing you could do at this stage is purchase a copy of The Milepost. This annual publication has everything you need to know about the trip north. It is the bible of all those who take the trek up North.

    Is there a better way? it might help to say I am looking for a bit of adventure.
    Go for it, it is an adventure worth every minute and every cent. You're never too old for adventure.

    Anybody done this? Was it worth it? Any ideas, or advice?
    All this is probably best answered if you'd like to read the report of two of my trips, both of which include Alaska. 2009. and the trip as a septuagenarian in 2012

    Lifey

  6. #6

    Default

    In 2011 I took the ferry from Bellingham, WA and stopped in almost all the towns along the way for a day or more. I ended my ferry ride in Homer but if you stop in Seward or Whitter you could take the train to Anchorage. I rented a car in Anchorage and drove the big loop throughout Alaska, traveling all the paved roads. (I did not go up to Prudhoe Bay.) Then I returned the car in Anchorage and flew home from there.
    I spent about 3 months on the trip.

    It was wonderful and I plan to do it again in a few years.

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