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  1. Default April 2010 Road trip - West coast


    My wife and I are looking to eventually take our honeymoon next year (around April time) and are looking to do a road trip up the west coast of America. We are thinking about flying into San Francisco and then hopefully make our way all the way to Alaska.

    We have 3 weeks to make a trip. Is it feasible to drive most of the way or are we taking on too much by to try and get up to Alaska? Is there anything we should especially look to do or places to go? My wife would really like to go whale watching at some point on the trip, where would be the best place to do this?

    Many thanks in advance


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default probably not possible

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Unfortuantly, its fairly rare for a rental company to allow their cars to travel to Alaska, and you certainly won't find anyone that will let you do a one way rental dropping the car off there. So, I don't think a pure roadtrip will work here.

    What you could possibly look at doing is driving up to Washington, dropping the car off and then take the Ferry up to Alaska. This would make for a very full 3 weeks, but you could certainly do it in that timeframe.

    Of course, if you decide that is too much or doesn't fit with your other plans you could very easily fill up 3 weeks focusing only on California/Oregon/Washington or doing only Alaska.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default A word on the ferries...

    My kids and I took the ferry back down from Juneau to Bellingham as part of an Alaska trip we took about 8 years ago. Here's the salient points to consider, as I recall them:

    1) The ferrys are relatively cheap. Your sleeping options include pitching your own tent on the fantail, sleeping in a covered area with your own sleeping bag (with radiant heat) just forward of the fantail, or (if I recall) in the lounge after a certain hour. You can also book for a modest fee a small cabin (which is what we did, one for me and my son, one for my daughter). The cabins are small and spartan, something along the lines of what you'd see on a train.

    2) The ferry is not a cruise ship. There are a couple food options on board, but nothing fancy.

    3) The ferry is not a cruise ship. There's a lot of nice scenery to watch, and the odd naturalist talk, but you're pretty much on your own for amusing yourself. No shuffleboard/rock climbing/skeet shooting off the rear here!

    4) The ferry is not a cruise ship. The primary purpose is to move people and vehicles from point "a" to point "b" relatively quickly. This means minimal and short port calls (we did manage to get off and see a bit of Sitka and Ketchikan), and the voyage is not timed to ensure that it is daylight out when you go through a particularly scenic bit. I believe it took us 4 nights and 3 days to make the entire trip (left Juneau at night, arrived Bellingham in the morning).

    5) Juneau (capitol) is an interesting town, with lots of sightseeing options in and around it, but it is far far away from places like Denali and the Kenai Peninsula... and you can't drive there anyway as there are no through roads out of Juneau. With three weeks to do the entire coast, you wouldn't have time for the rest of Alaska anyway... but just to be clear. If you want to make it to those areas you'd likely want to fly from Juneau to Anchorage (a ferry would take you another several days of similar scenery and endless card games in the lounge; OK if you have the time but not with a 3-week window).

    6) You can use Amtrak to get between Seattle and Bellingham if you wish (what we did). We didn't have a car, so we needed to get to SEA for the flight home; with a car you can probably drop off in Bellingham, or do the train if you drop off early in Seattle and spend a day or two car-less doing the city. The train station is just south of Pioneer Square.

    Southeast Alaska should be OK in April, places like Denali and the Kenai Peninsula not so much; that may be a little early and if you want to push into the interior you should do some more research. My recollection is their season up there is pretty much June-September.

    One final note: I assume you are planning this as an "open jaw" trip? Fly into SFO and fly back out of somewhere north? Saves on backtracking if not cost.

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