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Discussion in 'Americas' started by FJR_ski, Jan 11, 2013.
Which of these routes is more scenic?
Looks like you are planning on taking the ferry to either Haines or Skagway and then riding from there, right? If so, the route from Haines over Chilkat Pass will be the best overall, as it has more miles of scenic wilderness before you get to the Alaska Highway.
The ride from Skagway up over White Pass and on to Carcross is spectacular, but once past Carcross it becomes rather blah by comparison. And the stretch from Whitehorse to Haines Jct is nothing to get terribly excited about either. Whereas from Haines you start out right away running along the Chilkat River then, at the border, you start climbing up 40 Mile Hill into the pass. There is little in the way of civilization until you reach Haines Jct, and before long you're back out in the wilderness, on your way to Kluane Lake.
But... you can get it all if you really want to. By getting off at Skagway you could take a quick ride up to the top of White Pass - probably make it up to U. S. Customs and back down in time to catch the ferry back over to Haines. The time the ferry stays in Skagway varies, depending on which one. The Columbia, for instance, is scheduled to be there for 3 hours, while the Malaspina (which makes round trips between Juneau and Skagway) is there for just 1 1/2 hours. The reason I suggested turning around at U. S. Customs (just before customs, actually) is so you don't take the risk of being held up getting back down to catch the ferry, although you could also schedule it so you stay overnight in Skagway and then return to Haines the next day on a different ferry.
I like the ideal of going to Skagway, getting off the ferry, riding the routes and getting back on ferry to get on to Haines.
According to my search, this is the only Ferry system?
Are there others?
For most riders, I would advise riding to Prince Rupert, B.C. and taking the Alaska ferry north from there. Our ferry system can be found right here: AMHS And you can find a PDF copy of all the schedules here: 2013
But I know you like to go exploring and you've already been to Alaska once, so let me suggest another route that you might find more interesting. That would be to ride out to Port Angeles, WA (or ship your bike to Seattle again and ride from there if you will be short on time). Take the ferry Coho from Port Angeles to Victoria, B.C. (a beautiful city) then ride north on Vancouver Island (you can find several ride reports here on ADVrider describing that trip) to Port Hardy. From Port Hardy take a Canadian ferry to Prince Rupert, and there switch to an Alaska ferry for the remainder of the trip to Skagway. While at Prince Rupert, you might be able to spend a day or two riding inland up the Skeena River and maybe even south on 37 to Kitimat (inmate kildala2000 lives there, I believe) or north to Hyder, AK.
You could have a pretty good vacation before you even reached Alaska.
Thanks for all the information.
According to Microsoft Streets and Trips, this is the quickest way from Chicago to Prince Rupert.
Do you agree?
That is exactly the route I would take if I were in a big hurry.
There is one very minor deviation from that one that might save a few minutes: In Saskatchewan, instead of turning north off 39 onto 6 to go up through Regina, just stay on 39 up to Moose Jaw and then go north on 2 to intercept 11 north of Regina. Some times you can get through Regina quickly via the Ring Road on the east side, but going up to Moose Jaw will certainly get you around the big city traffic.
Other than that, yep, that's the route I have followed many times coming from east of the Mississippi back to Alaska.
The route on Streets and Trip Map, look's as the highways and routes are smaller and possibly have lower speed limits.
How is Denali Highway now days? Something that FJR might go on? Is it worth going on it?
And how about Tok to Dawson City to Montague to Whitehorse? Is that route still for dual-sport?
Speed limits are something I rarely worry about once away from the cities and larger towns. Keeping up with traffic will usually have you moving along rather briskly. Either way - through Regina or around Moose Jaw will be pretty much the same, except traffic around Regina can be heavier at certain times of day. Of course, if you're used to Chicago traffic (and I've been caught in some horrendous traffic there) anything across the Canadian prairies will seem tame.
It can be really nice if the weather is clear. It always has some rough, bumpy stretches, and sometimes a bit of mud, depending on the weather. I've gone across it several times on my Gold Wing with no trouble at all, and I always enjoy the ride. But if it is raining fairly hard at either end I believe I would find somewhere else to ride.
Tok to Chicken is paved and good. From Chicken to Dawson City is gravel, and can be a bit tricky. However, a brave young lady from Eastern Canada did it on her Hyabusa last year without dropping her bike once. Her RR here: Alaska-Hyabusa-Home
From Dawson City to Whitehorse is all paved and smooth, but I have found it to be one of the most boring rides in Canada. It's not bad, but after riding in the mountains to get there, it is pretty much level going down along the Yukon River.
Quickest perhaps, but you definitely want to consider heading through Calgary and to cruise through Banff and Jasper on the Icefields Parkway and then onto Prince George. It's a similar distance and that patch of highway is very scenic.
I do want to visit Jasper and all of Canadian Rockies, plus Glacier NP.
But, that's a different trip.
My goal is to get to British Columbia as soon as possible.
Understandable. You may want to keep it in mind though if you aren't too tight for time, it's about an extra 30km and an hour to go through Calgary rather than Edmonton and I would rate the Icefields Parkway as a 9/10 and the northern route about a 6/10 of which only the last bit into Jasper is scenic.
If you cannot work out both Skagway and Haines, I would choose Haines. Haines is a great small beautiful town where cruise ships do not dock. The ride in and out of Haines to Haines Junction is tremendous (beautiful, great road, etc.). Having said that, if you are taking the ferry in order to go to Whitehorse, Dawson City, Inuvik, Dawson City, Tok, etc., you might want to go to Skagway to go straight to Whitehorse. I have been to BC, Yukon, and Alaska, 3 out of the last 4 years and Haines is one of my favorite places. That is just me.
The road from Skagway to Whitehorse is amazing. It had some of the most scenic sections of my entire trip to Alaska last year. Skagway itself is a but touristy. If you spend the night there, you can easily get away from the tourist crowd, especially after the cruise ships leave in the early evening. There are a lot more options of places to go from Whitehorse as well. If you do make it to Whitehorse, check out the Klondike Rib and Salmon BBQ, a great place for good food and a beer.
So here is my one time visit, noob, opinion regarding GNP and the Ice Fields Parkway. Skip GNP and spend that time on the Ice Fields Parkway. I did the parkway on the way up, along with the Kootenay Parkway from Radium Hot Springs over to Banff area. Scenic vistas, glaciers, wide roads, and pull offs for views seemed to be about every 100 yards! I spent the night near Mount Jimmy Simpson on the parkway and headed north in daylight the next day. Took me like 8 hours to cover 100 miles on the way to Jasper because all to do and see and stare in awe at!! Wish I would have taken more time there!! Coming back home I went to GNP and acoss the Going to the Sun Road - boring!! compared to Ice Fields Parkway. GNP experience was tons of traffic, narrow roads, no real place to stop, oh wait, with all the traffic I had to stop and take pics then, unlike the Ice Fields Parkway where for the most part you could stop in the middle of road and take a pic, or whip a U turn back to a pull off. Dont regret doing GNP, but was a huge letdown seeing it after the stuff to the north. Travel in 2011 was hindered because Logan Pass did not open to mid July and the road was still pretty rough, but regardless.......the parkway wins hands down.
GNP is easily reachable from Chicago. I would take a route that got me to the Ice Fields Parkway one leg or the other of your trip. Plus it puts you on 16 to head over to Prince Rupert and 16 was a pretty cool ride outside of the towns along the way.
I'm sorry but Big City Traffic ? Regina isn't big so as long as there isn't construction, your route through
Saskatchewan will work just fine. Be prepared for genuinely boring prairie riding.
I would like to get to Tombstone Territorial National Park, but I'm worried in my FJR will take it if it rains on the road.
It's only 50 miles or so, but from what I have heard, the road is not fun when wet.