2016 oops 2020 AK-Colorado to Prudhoe Bay and back.....

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Big_John, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    Resurrecting this thread.... as we are doing it again in 2020.

    Posts will be on this thread and on our BlogSpot

    https://johnaudra2ak.blogspot.com/

    ==========================================

    Ride is over.....Mechanical Failure.....

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/911-shift-problems-on-sunday.1154470/


    ===========================================

    I finally have the BLOG built and started....feel free to follow along.....

    http://johnaudra2ak.blogspot.com

    ===========================================

    I suppose it is time to put a stake in the ground and make a public commitment to a ride that I have been dreaming about for 8 years. It's time to go to Alaska.

    The dates are still a little up in the air, but the window is between the middle of June to the middle of July. Likely I will only have 18-19 days, so that will have to be a quick paced ride. One of these days I will retire and then I won't be pressed for time, but for now.....the amount of time is what it is.

    The rough plan..... Leave Colorado Springs and ride straight to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay. I have decided to avoid the eastern route, doing the Cassiar up and back. There won't be time for side excursions, but I am counting on the main route to offer a spectacular experience. Once leaving the far northern reaches, I will scoot back to Anchorage and pick up the wife from the airport, where she will join me for the ride home, 2-up. Top of the World and Dawson will be a loop off the beaten path, but it will be the Cassiar back down, toward Banff, then Glacier, then Yellow Stone and home.

    I'll try to be decent about my planning updates here, detailing it out as the months pass. Then when the trip is kicked off, I will add as many stories and photos as I can.

    Here is my steed!

    [​IMG]


    I decided to edit this first post and introduce myself a little better.

    Some of you know me. I founded Rocky Mountain Adventure Riders, have been the Chairman of the Board of the Colorado Off-High Vehicle Coalition, current Director for the Trails Preservation Alliance.....Finally founder and president of GADV. From 2007 to 2014, I strove to earn the badge of riding the biggest, baddest and most challenging big bike rides in the Rocky Mountains. Events like West Fest, RMAR RDV, the CAM, the BIG Dog and the Quien Sabe have been staples for me. Since '14, I am slowing down a little with age and a body that is starting to show the crashes and falls.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The wife is the dream of my life. No offense to others, but I just could not have found a more beautiful, athletic and adventurous gal. She gave birth to four outstanding kiddos and we spent the first 25 years raising them and enjoying family life. Now we are empty-nesters and enjoying life!!! She is a 2-up beast...willing to do up to 500-600 miles a day. She loves us riding together and really enjoys tent camping, nearly as much as she enjoys a 5-Star hotel and $50 bottle of wine.

    She's also a darn good rider herself!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was my Iron Butt and Mileage Cruncher for a while......now have the GS. But wow we had some great rides on that 1150RT....as well as a WeeStrom before it. We could regularly be found down south hunting for the best NewMexican food and adventures around Big Bend.

    [​IMG]
    #1
    eakins likes this.
  2. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7,667
    Location:
    DeLand Flatistan
    Nice! I'll be leaving the end of May from NC. Wandering to the Arctic Circle then heading south to Mexico. I'll be riding my little WR250R yamadama.
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,828
    Moved to Trip Planning. When the trip begins or ends, start a thread in Ride Reports. :thumb
    #3
  4. CommanderDave

    CommanderDave Kick Ass Adventure Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    136
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    Big John, Go for it!

    I did that trip in 2010 and 2011 on my motorcycle. Also drove my truck up 2013 and 2014. A couple of thoughts. My 2010 trip I only had 12 days so rode to Fairbanks and back. Took 2 days off. Soooo...From Spokane 10 days. It was 5000 miles for the round trip. The math is pretty simple, approx 500 miles a day. From CO you would have a little more miles. Also from CO you might not gain much by going on Cassier. I guess Google maps can answer that. Going to Deadhorse is bare minimum 2 days fron Fairbanks and that is with everything perfect. ie Weather. My 2011 trip was 35 days and I did get to Deadhorse. No rain so haul road was perfect. We set up our tent at Coldfoot, slept 6 or 7 hours, left tent there and because of 24 hour daylight we got to Deadhorse and back in 18 hours.

    In any case I would say take the trip no matter how little time you have. My short trip in 2010 just reinforced my desire to do the trip the following year when I had 5 weeks.

    Have fun.....dave
    #4
  5. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    Thanks for the tips.

    I am at 8,000 miles round trip. At 18 days, that is 444 miles per day. On the ride up, when I am solo, I will plan to spin the odometer longer each day. I will do consecutive 700 mile days until I get to Fairbanks. (Not an issue for me, being an Iron Butt Rider.) Yes, I plan on one day to Deadhorse from Fairbanks and then the next day, back to Fairbanks. I am pounding hard on the way up, so that the return with the wife can be more like 350 mile days.....taking it easier.

    I have chosen the Cassiar up and back, as several have written that the #2, #43 and #35 tend to be boring and I really don't care to get into the cities: Calgary and Edmonton. Looking at the maps the Cassiar seems to be my kind of riding.

    I hadn't thought about leaving a tent at Coldfoot....but that is a heck of an idea. I have also heard that some riders tend to leave some of their bags in Fairbanks for the round trip....also a good idea. Fortunately, I have had more experience than I can to remember riding super slick clay in the Colorado mountains during monsoon season. I hope I don't have those struggles, but am skilled and prepared for it.
    #5
  6. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    #6
  7. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    I wonder how many riders, when planning out their trips, actually address the mental aspect?

    I am a little taken back at my emotions at this point. I am genuinely feeling a bit of intimidation and probably a little fear. I'm not the kind of rider that generally encounters these emotions. I plan a ride and I pack a bike and I head off. Not to toot my own horn, but I am highly skilled at both dirt and street riding.....running out of talent and skills isn't generally an issue. The challenges to overcome and the difficult riding situations just never cross my mind. But for this trip, it is different. After sitting here and thinking about my feelings, I asked myself...."Have you ever felt this way on any other trip?" And the answer came quickly and strongly...."Yes". I felt this way 8 years ago when the wife and I packed two large backpacks, jumped on a jet to Germany and spent three weeks riding the rail around Europe. That was my first trip over the pond and I remember having this anxiety prior to departure. I think it is heading off into unknown country, not knowing what to expect. Disappearing into the Rocky Mountains for a week of camping off of an XR650 isn't an issue, because the country and what I will encounter is familiar to me. Canada and Alaska.....completely new to me.

    I think this is actually a very healthy mind-set, requiring me to respect the ride.


    .........
    #7
  8. Hikertrash

    Hikertrash Wasted Rock Ranger

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,011
    Location:
    Arizona
    I felt that way riding to Baja by myself and when vacationing in Europe, but not when I rode up to the Artic Circle in Canada. I found Canada much cleaner and friendlier than the US which put me at ease right from the start.
    #8
  9. Charleetho

    Charleetho Mr. Zoom Zoom

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,309
    Location:
    Littleton, CO
    I've done a bunch of riding in Canada. It's just like here only the people are friendlier.
    Baja and Copper Canyon felt very save and the people are nice. Language is the issue.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
    #9
  10. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    You guys remind me of what others have said......very friendly and helpful folks to the north.

    I just hope I don't have to ride through 10 days of rain!!! Klim Gortex will help....but YUK! And I hope the Haul Road isn't greased Owl Crap.



    .......
    #10
  11. mtncrawler

    mtncrawler Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 17, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,490
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    Big John, Did a similar trip in 2013. I took about 25 days - but 7 days of that was spent on a kayak trip out of Haines.

    I had a similar plan and mentality - I wanted to pound the miles early on, then slowed somewhat when I hit Liard River Hot Springs on the AK hwy. I made a reservation there - so I was on the books for a few long days early in order to make that date - 3.5 days ride from NOCO. Another long day to Whitehorse, then on to Dawson, TOW highway, on my way to Fairbanks. I also did the Dalton up and back from Fairbanks on consecutive days. I lucked out with GREAT weather on the Dalton - but paid for with rain the previous 3 days…:lol3

    On my return I took the Cassier, Prince George, and then down through Kamloops and the Okanagan Valley into WA state. I had already toured through the Jasper/Banff area on previous trips - would have love to do it again, but time was short.

    I certainly agree with you wanting to take the Cassier both ways - it was more scenic (EDIT: Have to qualify this as it was pretty spectacular north of Fort Nelson really) - but in my case was happy to deal with the boring (easier) miles up through Calgary/Edmonton. (There is a pretty easy go around to avoid Edmonton)

    A few thoughts for your trip;
    1) Sounds like your set on the Cassier both ways, but I think the miles on (and getting to) the AK Hwy were a bit easier for long days in the saddle early - and it might buy you an extra "contingency" day for your trip to Deadhorse. Just something to consider if your looking to squeeze more time north. (Do plan a stop at Liard River Hot Springs if you do go that route)
    2) If you want to include a bit of the AK Marine Hwy system in your trip after picking up you wife - I HIGHLY recommend the day trip (one way) from Whittier to Valdez. Gorgeous riding to Whittier (and the Kenai Peninsula) and exiting Valdez to Copper Center. I had great weather for this also.
    3) If you want to take a tour to the Beaufort sea/Arctic ocean from Deadhorse - you have call/make reservation ahead (I think 24 hrs) as the companies have to "clear" you prior to the tours.
    4) If you do find yourself with a bit of extra time (and good weather) on the Dalton - spend a night camped on the Dalton (Yukon River Camp or Coldfoot?). I should have - and stuck myself with a campsite just outside Fairbanks on the return…blah.
    5) Speaking of Fairbanks - I did not (but wish I did) stay at the University dorms for a cheap, clean stay before hitting the Dalton.

    Be happy to share any more info if you have specific questions. There are certainly better experts out there I'm sure!

    I also saw your post about the "mental aspects". I had done the Copper Canyon/Baja loop in MEX solo the year before my trip to AK. I'd have to say I was much more apprehensive for that trip - but still - I think any big trip like this deserves a few butterflies and is understandable. There are some pretty remote spots on the way up and in AK, but you'll be fine. I was fine once I hit the road and got some miles under my belt.
    #11
  12. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO

    Outstanding info and tips. I'm not cheap but looking to do this trip on a reasonable budget, so the tip about the dorms in Fairbanks is awesome info.

    And yeah, if I can work in any phenomenal excursions like Valdez....that will be awesome. Good point to take the faster route up to buy some time. Have to ponder that.
    #12
  13. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    As we all know, you lay down plans....but there are usually edits along the way. This is what I am thinking about the first 8 days.....

    I originally said I would run the Cassiar up and back, but I do like the notion of covering more miles, giving myself some wiggle room to get to Anchorage on day 8....when the Wife will fly in that afternoon.

    Colorado to Montana (Tent Camping in National Forest)

    [​IMG]


    Montana to north of northwest of Edmonton (Tent Camping in Campground)

    [​IMG]


    ...and on to Liard Springs (Tent Camping in Campground)

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    Liard to somewhere close to the Alaska border. (Tent Camping...hopefully campground)

    [​IMG]


    On to Coldfoot...... (Tent Camping....Motel if raining)

    [​IMG]


    On to Deadhorse..... (Motel)

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    Deadhorse to Fairbanks (Dormitory)

    [​IMG]


    And Fairbanks to Anchorage (Hotel)

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7,667
    Location:
    DeLand Flatistan
    In a perfect world your first 8 day plan is very commendable. The times shown for each days ride though are not taking into account stopping for gas, food, taking a pee, traffic, road conditions, weather, photos, finding a campground, flat tires, and un-forseen stuff. Did I mention road conditions? After you cross into Canada and certainly in Alaska you will be mostly on two lane roads and some gravel. Plus the time frame you have is right in the peak times for RV's and tourist. If it works out for you that will be great but I'm worried your schedule may bite you. Looking forward to your ride report once you get going. Cheers.
    #16
  17. XXMe

    XXMe Not my picture

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,886
    Location:
    Eagle River, AK
    Broken record here... Be sure to go to the Alaska Regional Forum and read the articles by Alcan Rider that are pinned at the top of the forum! Good reading and great pics by one of the best resources there is on North country travel!

    Also, my recommendation for a boat ride is to ride to Valdez and take the Lulu Belle out to the face of the Columbia Glacier! The ferries may give you nice scenery "over there" but the Lulu Belle puts that scenery in your face! Can't beat it!... FYI, my '14 ride up was my 8th vacation in Alaska!
    #17
  18. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO

    Love the suggestions....keep them coming. Like you, we will plan a 2nd and maybe a 3rd trip to Alaska over the years. One trip we want to take will be a flight in to Anchorage and rent a cage for a week and drive a couple thousand miles during the fall when the colors are turning. Some of the pics of Alaska in the fall are just stunning to me.

    Wish we could do it all....but have to pick and choose with only 18 days to do this ride.




    Completely understand. I have ridden one of the toughest Iron Butt Rides in America, the Colorado Classic. This run of 1,000 miles never touches interstate, but mostly runs tiny mountain roads with construction and gravel, 45 mph speed limits, lots of little towns to ride through, more RV's than you can shake a stick at, etc....kinda what I expect on the Alaska ride. I understand that I might have some 16 hour days on the ride up....but I can handle it. More of a concern to me than RV's, Trucks, Tourists, and road construction....is rain. Rain and inclement weather usually slows me down more than anything I have ever experienced.

    And like I said....."Best laid plans, usually go awry!." Game time decisions every day. If I don't get to Anchorage until day #9 (instead of Day #8).....then the wife is equipped to grab a taxi and get a hotel for the night.
    #18
  19. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    Now for the way back with the Wife.....2-up. All nights will be under a roof. Matter of fact, I will probably ship my camping gear from Anchorage to free up some luggage space for her gear and clothing.


    Anchorage to Valdez to Glennallen.

    [​IMG]


    Glennallen to Dawson. (Google Maps won't route the whole distance, but I am guessing about 350 total miles.) Yes, the wife has ridden a few thousand miles with me on some pretty tough dirt and high mountain passes....so the dirt portion is no problem.

    [​IMG]


    Dawson to the Yukon Lodge

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. Big_John

    Big_John That'll be the day

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,906
    Location:
    Black Forest, CO
    Yukon Motel to the Last Frontier Lodge.

    [​IMG]


    Then on to Prince George.

    [​IMG]


    Prince George to Banff.

    [​IMG]
    #20