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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    New York and/or Los Angeles
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Jim - I've been on several trips with time constraints. (My friend and I drove from NY to Florida to CA in 6.5 days) It sounds like you and I may have similar goals in mind. My main goal is just to enjoy the scenery and travel, but once I passed reaching 30 states I figured it would be neat to try and hit up all 50. If I had my way I would spend weeks on each trip, but do to work and real life, that is just not possible for me. (I'm 27, so we're close in age as well. I also see that you're from NJ, and I'm from NY. Yet another similarity.)

    I'm just trying to make the best out of my trips, seeing and experiencing the most, safely, with the time restraints I'm given.

    I was tempted to get a rental car from Seattle, but ran into issues with a rental car leaving the country. I'd have to rent from Canada and Alaska as well, and the price of driving one one-way in Canada (twice) got expensive.

    GLC - I think you're right. If I can try and space the time out properly, and stay on Interstates, it shouldn't necessarily need to be a speed run. My main goal is to drive through duller areas at night.

    Which brings to mind another thought I had. I should be receiving 20+ hours of daylight up there because of the time of year. I'm not sure where in Canada I'll start experiencing this, but I was hoping to see the Northern Lights. I might miss out on that, hmm...

  2. #12

    Default

    Hi,

    I thought I would weigh in because I just got back from an Ohio-Alaska trip and my time frame was also 3 weeks. If you push it, 3 weeks is not 21 days because you can use both weekends so you're really looking at 24 days off of work (assuming you leave Friday after work and get in a good 8 hours or so).

    My brother and I went from Columbus, OH to Mount Rushmore then up through Calgary and Edmonton to Yellowknife (not the most direct route to Alaska), then west on the Liard Trail (I frankly wouldn't recommend unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, I think we got lucky to not get stuck in mud). From there we went on the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks then went up the Dalton Highway (as seen on Ice Road Truckers) to Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay). We lost a side window to a truck rock doing this, but it was definitely worth it. We went down to Anchorage from there and down BC 37 to see Jasper Park in Canada, Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons then across Idaho/Nevada to the Redwood forest, down the Pacific Coast highway 1 to San Francisco then to Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and then back to Columbus.

    We actually had 1 extra day which we used on getting new brakes in Yellowknife, the car window we lost on the Dalton Highway only took an hour to fix in Fairbanks.

    One thing I did notice was that driving times are grossly overstated in Google Maps in Canada and also the Dalton Highway is a 10-12 hour trip not 20+ as quoted by Google Maps.

    If you exclude our detour to the southwest you could easily get up to Alaska and back in 3 weeks. Also if you do this in the summer you will have extremely long periods of sunlight once you get up north. Whitehorse did get mostly dark for us, but Yellowknife and Fairbanks were light 24 hours a day, and up near Deadhorse it was like noon 24 hours a day. Remember to go as close to June 21 as you can to get the most sunlight.

    Also don't forget to bring a lot of bug spray, the mosquitoes and other bugs are pretty bad up north in the summer.

  3. #13

    Default

    We do have similar goals on our trips. Just to get places and say we stepped foot in the state. 21 days will be a nice amount of time for that.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    New York and/or Los Angeles
    Posts
    13

    Default Automobile

    MikeV - Thanks so much for the input. It's good to hear someone who has done this first-hand. I plan on going up to Deadhorse too. Did you happen to stay at the Arctic Caribou Inn? I was hoping to stay there and go on their snowshoe-tour to the Arctic Circle. I just called this week and they said that they wouldn't know if they are holding the tours until April, that scared me. I'm hoping it only depends on the weather and it wasn't budget related.

    Regarding the truck/window incident. Did you find many roads weren't paved well? I'm curious because I currently have a small compact-car which I've done all of my trips with, and although it has 90,000 miles on it I was debating on getting a new car for this trip. I was looking into a Ford Escape because it has pretty good gas mileage (the same as my current car). Since I need a new car soon anyway I thought it would be very convenient for space and comfort and I really like the car. On the other hand I've heard stories like yours and don't want to dent/scratch the car on the roads up there. Besides the window, any other permanent or cosmetic damage done? What would you suggest?

    Thanks again. You're advice is really appreciated!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    New York and/or Los Angeles
    Posts
    13

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    Below is a link to my route, if I'm allowed to post links yet:

    Scroll down for The Liberal Traveler's map!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-25-2010 at 07:46 PM.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,108

    Default

    If you care about your car, don't take the Dalton. With that said, the one company that rents vehicles for the Dalton uses Ford Escapes.

    I think you would really be pushing the 21 day envelope if you tried to go up the Dalton, much less go to Fairbanks or Anchorage.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,579

    Default Here's the map

    That link provided above was slow loading, so here it is again:


  8. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Liberal Traveler View Post
    MikeV - Thanks so much for the input. It's good to hear someone who has done this first-hand. I plan on going up to Deadhorse too. Did you happen to stay at the Arctic Caribou Inn? I was hoping to stay there and go on their snowshoe-tour to the Arctic Circle. I just called this week and they said that they wouldn't know if they are holding the tours until April, that scared me. I'm hoping it only depends on the weather and it wasn't budget related.

    Regarding the truck/window incident. Did you find many roads weren't paved well? I'm curious because I currently have a small compact-car which I've done all of my trips with, and although it has 90,000 miles on it I was debating on getting a new car for this trip. I was looking into a Ford Escape because it has pretty good gas mileage (the same as my current car). Since I need a new car soon anyway I thought it would be very convenient for space and comfort and I really like the car. On the other hand I've heard stories like yours and don't want to dent/scratch the car on the roads up there. Besides the window, any other permanent or cosmetic damage done? What would you suggest?

    Thanks again. You're advice is really appreciated!
    Hi,

    The Dalton Highway is mostly unpaved, there were a few spots that are paved, but just assume 414 miles of dirt/gravel. The rock breaking the side window was the only damage we sustained on the Dalton Highway, no other dents or scratches even. That being said there were plenty of opportunities for damage, so we may have just been lucky. Also I'm not sure if I mentioned in the original post, but we had a Hyundai Sonata with about 80k miles, although in Deadhorse we noticed that we were the only sedan in town :) The rock incident happened on the way back down in the tundra so we had a good 8-9 hours without a window, but really wasn't a huge deal, nobody was hurt. We were able to get the window repaired at a Novus in Fairbanks in about an hour the next morning for $235 if I remember correctly. The speed limit on the road is 50mph, but we averaged about 40, watch for the trucks and other people that are used to the road coming up on you fast and just pull over as much as you can for them. There are plenty of small access roads to the pipeline if you need a break or want to get some pictures, and don't forget to get gas in Coldfoot (for something like $4.50/gallon), and in Deadhorse the gas station is on the eastern part of town but doesn't look like a normal gas station.

    As for weather on the Dalton we had a little rain, but we also had some fog up on the tundra. One other thing, the road does have a reasonable amount of traffic, so if you were to break down or go off the road, assuming you didn't go off a cliff someone would find you within 15-30 minutes tops and could radio for help.

    The roads prior to the Dalton Highway are mostly paved, you might have a small section of construction with gravel, but nothing too serious. I seem to remember a bit of gravel between the border and Tok, Alaska. The Alaska Highway near the Yukon border on the Canadian side is paved, but it was pretty rough, lots of potholes and lots of dips. We did take 2 full spare tires, but didn't end up using either of them, if I do this again I would still take them both.

    In Deadhorse we stayed at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel instead of the Arctic Caribou Inn, it has shared dorm bathrooms, but was otherwise nicer and cleaner than I expected and they had a cafeteria open all night. We paid $220 for 1 night (they charged $110/person). The Arctic Caribou Inn is the only one with the Arctic Ocean tours though.

    While I'm sure this drive is one of, if not the most dangerous drives you can do in the US or Canada, it's really amazing. You go through several hours of forests with mountains in the background (like driving through Boss Ross' imagination) then go through the mountains, and then a sureal 3-4 hours of tundra, all the while with the Trans-Alaska pipeline close by. When you get up that far the sun never gets even close to setting, so you experience basically 24 hours of noon (assuming you go in the summer).

    I have probably thousands of pictures from the trip but I put up a few of them to this flickr account.

    Here's the broken window on the tundra
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/51710665@N07/4768509584/

    Also this was the fog, it was pretty scary but didn't last long
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/51710665@N07/4768512182/

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    New York and/or Los Angeles
    Posts
    13

    Default Pictures

    MikeV,

    Those are some great pictures! Thanks for sharing. How did you manage to get so many pictures of wildlife? Were most viewable from the road or did you do some hiking too? I hope to witness as many animal sightings as you did. Also, do you remember where was DSC00091 (the waterfall) was taken?

    Sorry for the abundance of questions. Your advice is really appreciated.

    -LT

  10. Default

    This trip is totally possible. I did it in 2002, from Philadelphia in 24 days. There were two of us in my 1991 Ford Explorer with 237,000 miles on it and we left Friday August 9th around noon. I did a AAA triptik, just for fun, but we generally made up our own route. We went west, past Chicago and then Northwest into North Dakota. We took route 52 North and entered Canada at Saskatchewan. We made our way to the Alaska Highway and took that all the way to Fairbanks. We reached Fairbanks Wednesday morning (Would have been there Tuesday night but our hotel reservation wasn't until Wednesday, so we camped outside of Delta Junction.) We were on the road between 14-16 hours per day, our time would start when we left the camp and stop when we got to the next camp, so that time includes lunch, pit and tourist stops.

    We spent some time around Fairbanks although we couldn't go to Deadhorse because of a mudslide that had the Dalton closed for about 3 weeks. :( But we could go as far North as the Arctic Circle; So I’ve been that far North. 
    Some things that were pretty cool around Fairbanks (or so I thought):
    The Chena Hot Springs...the University of Alaska Museum (It was really great for a historic and geologic history of the state, highly recommended)...North Pole, Alaska (alright it was real corny, but good for a couple hours of silliness one morning)....We did do one touristy thing, other than North Pole, we took a ride on the Riverboat Discovery the neatest part of that was when you sailed up the river to where the Tanana river and the Chena River meet.

    We spent about 4 days in the Fairbanks Area, then on Sunday we drove south to Denali, spent the day there and then headed south to the area around Anchorage. We toured Anchorage and Whittiler. If you go, take a cruise and see the glaciers and the wildlife in the water. If you're a fisherman, definatly go out and cast away.

    We then headed to Haines (which is a drive back through Canada) in order to take the Ferry to Juneau. We wanted to take the ferry directly from the Anchorage/Valdez area, but our schedules didn't work out. Haines though turned out to be a beautiful place. We had about 8 hours to kill before our ferry left, so we went up the Lutak road to the lake, (about a 30 minute drive from Haines) the wildlife and scenery is awesome. We even spotted a couple of bear cubs playing in the river.

    Juneau wasn't all that impressive, but it's pretty crazy to be in a place with your car that you can't drive to. It could have also been that we were so overwhelmed by everything we had seen up to that point that our minds just couldn't take in anymore.

    From Juneau we took the ferry (a 30 hour ferry) to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. We started our drive back from there on Wednesday August 28. We went southeast into Washington and then east. We stopped for a half of day at Mount Rushmore and were back in Philly on Sunday September 1st. Total trip length, 24 days…and September 2nd was Labor Day so we had that to decompress before heading back to work on Tuesday.
    I absolutely loved this trip and would do it again if work would give me the time off again. So it’s totally possible and well worth it. I would definitely recommend the Ferry back to Prince Rupert. The 30 hours to twiddle you thumbs is really nice and the scenery from the deck of the boat is breathtaking. But it refreshes you before the drive back. If you have any specific questions or need anything, let me know. I’d love to help.
    Two cool things though, at night, in Southern/Central Canada, look at the sky and count the stars, you’ll never see more of them (if you go too far north, the whole long daylight business messes things up and don’t forget to look for the northern lights.
    And if you’re looking to put your foot in all the states/provinces, it’s a 5 hour (2.5 up and 2.5 back) detour to the Northwest Territories in Canada
    Larry

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