Alaska....June or July???

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by RoyB, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

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    What is the best time to tour Alaska June through July or July through August?

    Seems weather will be better in July/August (less rain) and the bugs might be a little tiny bit better............No?

    Thanks
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  2. monkey boy

    monkey boy Been here awhile

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    From what I could determine from researching this very question, it could go either way. Some years June/July is better, others July/August might have the better weather. Impossible to predict. As for myself, I'm going to give it a go in June.
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  3. AirForce

    AirForce Abbey Normal

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    I lived in Fairbanks for three years and June was my favorite time, LOTS of sunlight. The weather is changeable all the time so prepare for sun and rain. The Alaska State Bird will only be a problem in the Interior and up on the North Slope, but it's nothing a little 60% Deet won't handle. The guys on Over The Top Hop in the Great White North region section are a wealth of information concerning riding in the Great Land. Whatever the conditions are you'll have a great time.
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  4. justJeff

    justJeff Banned

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    I spent about 30 years in Alaska, and have ridden most of the state. Your chances of lighter crowds and better weather are better in July/August.

    I'm going to do a bike trip back to Alaska myself this Summer. I'm going to leave on August 4th and catch the ferry in Haines on the 19th. There probably isn't a bad time to go, just go and enjoy yourself. It's impossible to see everything, it is a vast expanse to say the least. The wilderness area of Alaska alone is more than twice the size of Washington, Oregon and California, combined. For a lot of the 30 years that I lived there I owned an airplane, bikes, and a boat, and I still haven't seen everything, and I spent almost all of my free time exploring in one form or another.

    Just be forewarned, one trip will probably whet your appetite and leave you wanting to go back and see more. If you know what areas you plan to visit, let me know and I can make some good reccomendations, especially if you're going on a dualsport bike.
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  5. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

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    I'm afraid of that! This has been a dream of mine for 35 years. I was all set to go last summer and two weeks before I was set to leave I had a bad motorcycle accident and broke both my wrists. I'm healing up fine and will be ready to go in July............

    My buddy will be riding an R1200GS and I'll be on a DL650 V Strom.....

    Ride up, Haul Road, Three day ferry back down...........You think four weeks will do it if we leave from and return to Montana?

    Thanks for the info.
    #5
  6. justJeff

    justJeff Banned

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    Four weeks will give you plenty of time. I would suggest going up the Casssiar on the way up. You miss Dawson Creek, and the official start of the Ak. Hwy, but it's a much more beautfiul ride, with a great side trip if you want. The road from Dawson Creek up isn't much anyway, and taking the Cassiar actually saves you a few miles. You take 16 going west out of Prince George and get on the Cassiar at Kitwanga. The side trip to Steward/Hyder is worth doing, and you can plan an overnight there. From Hyder it's about 400 miles on the Cassiar to where you join the Ak. Hwy at milepost 648. A great place to get a motel for the night is about 60 miles further up the Ak. Hwy, at Rancheria. The food is really great. I'd do the Top of the World on the way up, while you have no feelling of being rushed. If you end up deciding to hang out in Dawson or something, you'll have the time. You can cover the part of the Ak. Hwy. that you missed taking the TOW when you head to Haines to catch the ferry. If you feel like exploring, when the TOW hits the Taylor Hwy. in Ak, go north towards Eagle. It's a pretty great part of the country. No other roads out of Eagle, so you backtrack back to the where you hit the Taylor and continue on through Chicken and rejoin the Ak Hwy again.

    If you have time, when you get to Delta Jct, instead of heading towards Fairbanks, head towards Paxon. I can send you some directions to some great two track type of offroad trails just out of Delta if you like. There are three pretty nice lakes in the area, Fielding (off the road a few miles, nice campground, very beautiful. Summit Lake (Summit Lake Lodge is a must stop for a piece of pie), and Paxon Lake, which is at the end of the Denali Hwy. This is the area where I moose and caribou hunted for a lot of my life. It's always been a personal favorite. Rainbow Mountain is really something. You pass Black Rapids Glacier and a lot of great spots along the way. From Paxon you can either head south down the Richardson all the way to Anchorage (before the Parks was built it was the road we took to get to Anchorage from Fairbanks), you can cross the Denali to Cantwell and turn south to Anchorage or go north to Fairbanks, or you can go back up towards Delta and head to Fairbanks that way.

    On the way to the Haul Rd, the Hilltop Cafe has great pie. There is a decent, unimproved campground at about mile 60 on the Haul Rd, or you can camp at Coldfoot. If you're leary at all about bears, I'd camp at Coldfoot. A lot of folks go right from Coldfoot, through Atigun, and straight to Prudhoe/Deadhorse. That's a cool trip, but they miss an absolutely stunning glaciel lake, Galbraith Lake, just the other side of the pass. It's a few miles off the road, but it's worth seeing. You can camp there, again, be mindful of bears.

    You and your friend are in luck for service in Fairbanks, if you need anything. The Hill boys that own the Suzuki dealership, Northern Power Sports are friends of mine, and great people. Geo, the owner of the BMW shop is also a friend, and a character worth meeting.

    You're taking enough time that you'll be able to see quite a bit, and really enjoy yourself. If you head to Haines from Fairbanks, it's a ride that can be done in one day, but is more enjoyable broken up into 2 days.

    Are you planning on checking out Valdez? If you don't, a side trip to Hyder will have given you a taste of similar scenery, though on a different scale.

    Watch out for moose, especially on roads that don't have the vegetation trimmed back very far. As big as they are, they can appear in front of you very quickly. Back in the mid 80's I had the misfortune to hit two of them, both times on a bike, and both times on Chena Hotsprings Rd. outside of Fairbanks. All those years in Ak, and never came close to hitting one in a car or truck, but twice on a bike. What sucked is that right after I hit the second one (on a VFR1000 with a Collins Turbo), on a new VFR1000 w/turbo, a truck made an unsignaled left turn in front of me as I'd swung out to pass him. I ended up nailing the rear of his truck at about a 45deg angle, flew through the rear window of his topper, and half-way out the side of the topper. I was almost ready to give up road bikes at that point, but I didn't, probably not smart enough I guess.

    Medical services and such can be a ways away, depending on where you are. Be careful. You're going to have a trip of a lifetime. I'll be up that way Aug. 6th -19th, it would be cool to hook up if possible.
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  7. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

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    Jeff,
    Thanks for the great "Trip Tic"..........I printed it out and it's taped to the front cover of my Alaska Gazetteer.

    We're leaving on July 8, trailering to my friends house in Polson Mt. We will head up through Glacier Park, up through the Canadian Rockies over to Prince George and then head north most likely following your route.

    We'll be heading back to New England on August 7th. Sorry we will miss you. Would have liked to hook up.

    Thanks again for the tips...........
    #7
  8. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    copy and paste also. But if you have never riden or driven through Banff and especially Jasper British Columbia (which are on the route toward the Alaskan Highway) you will have missed a great great scenic ride. I went up the Ak Hwy last June 15 through July 7 and came back on the Cassiar...at least on my trip back on the Cassier Hwy in July 11th, 2005 it was brutal with potholes...but Hyder was worth it. Might consider going up Ak Hwy and return on the Cassier.

    From Polston/Kalispell, Mo. the Cassier Hwy is a pretty good haul west. He hit it on the head, one trip will only wet your appetite. I will be doing my 4th trip this June or July so may see you on the trail.

    The best part of Hyder for most is the Salmon Run (with Grizzly's catching the fish) is starts almost every year on the week of July 15th. Also Hyder is land locked but there are great mountain roads past Hyder that eventually run into a mountain range.

    You will quickly find out you need to pack light and dry, tents are a necessity. There are several list floating around of suggested stuff to pack and not pack. Those mosquitoes were near unbareable....I bought a head bug net today at Walmart for $3.00. Also AK and Yukon only have about 3 months out of the year to fix roads (June, July, Aug) so lots of road construction equipment in those 3 months. The rain and weather changes from year to year...it is a pot shot but I assure you, you will be doing a few days of riding in rain and some pretty sloppy mud. AND, make a metal sign with your name on it for Watson Lake Sign Post village and take alone a nail.

    Some feel camping is only safe at RV type campsites and it is convenient to have a shower and toilet at the campsites. Most are $10 and probably well worth it.

    Road traffic: I's bet 90% on the AK Hwy are RV's (5thwheels, campertops, pu caompers, RV's) 5% cars/trucks, and 5% motorcycles. Most are retirement age...many bikers are sole riders that hook up with other sole riders just to watch out for each others rear ends. For me the most important planning for the bike is getting a new set of tries in Fairbanks. I plan on ordering one from the former Beemer Dealer in Fairbanks a few months in advance.

    Hope some of this rambling helps,
    #8
  9. justJeff

    justJeff Banned

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    Comet2000 is right, a lot of the traffic you encounter will be tourists in RV's. It still amazes me that to drive a decent sized truck you need a CDL,but these oldtimers can buy a big diesel pusher and tow a suburban behind it without proving any ability to drive the darned thing. Watch out for them.

    Packing was brought up. Do go as light as you can, you won't regret it. I really like light, quick drying gear, like Exofficio pants and shirts, or similar makes. The pants usually have zip off leg, so double as shorts, and the pants and shirt can be washed in a creek or a sink with camp suds, and dry in no time. For camp and casual wear, it's hard to beat. I put my gear that I'll be taking to Alaska and it's right at 40lbs, including some food. That's tent, bag, pad, tools, extra tubes, extra clothes, personal shave items and such, etc. Being an old backpacker makes it somewhat easier. You'll appreciate being light when you do encounter some mud or tougher going.
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  10. Mercenary

    Mercenary Mindless Savage

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    Point of order here....

    Both Banff and Jasper are in Alberta, not BC.

    Not tryin to be a jerk:lol3
    #10
  11. BARB

    BARB Long timer Super Supporter Supporter

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    I'd vote for June/July. More daylight. Less smoke from forest fires. Less rain. The Dust to Dawson run is also in June, check the calendar and Over the Top Hop thread for details.
    If you plan on coming through Anchorage and need tires, stop in and see us. I have all DS tires in stock, mount and balance while you wait. Sorry about the impromptu advertising but I have to pay for my new tire machine and balancer somehow (don't want the SnapOn man to break my fingers). This is a good place to take a break, check email, do laundry, change oil, and get free advice and opinions. Have a great trip! Barb -Alaska Leather
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  12. AK Bear

    AK Bear Long timer

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    I've been here now for almost 57 years. I generally find June to be the sunny month with a change occuring somewhere around mid July toward more rain. This applies only to Sothcentral Alaska and not so much to the Interior. Fairbanks has it's own weather system as do other parts of the state. It's a big state and the weather patterns are different in different places. No one statement applies to the whole state other than "If you don't like the weather, stick around it will change". Were it me planning a trip here I would shoot for June but really any time is worth the trip. Even (especially?)September is beautiful around Anchorage. Bear
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  13. hondav2

    hondav2 Kiwi Fukengruver

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    My advice is go up to Inuvik,stay 2 nights. Mad Trapper Inn is where it all happens. Campground 2 mins walk from town. Flight to Tuk is interesting.I rode up from Dawson in 1 day , D2D , Top of world, Eagle, then head head to Pruedohe , you will be there around soliste, riding thru the night up there is a must do , less trucks as well, Denelli Hwy, Kenai Pen. Valdez, Kennicott Copper mine, Haines ,ferry,Skagway . I found Alaska Highway boring. Other roads more fun.
    Dont forget to go and see my ride sponsers www.alaskaleather.com Barb and the girls there are the best. Cheers Toddy
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  14. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

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    Thanks folks!

    Comet, you are 110% correct about the Banff / Jasper trip. I did that loop two summers ago. Without a doubt the most beautiful area I've ever ridden in......So far....

    I was a back packer for years and I've been motorcycle touring for the past five years. The Albertta/Rockies trip was 11,000 miles in two and a half weeks. I've crossed the country east to west twice and north to south three or four times. I pack real light. We don't plan on carrying any food or cooking gear except for a very small stove and a coffee pot. Gotta have the Joe first thing in the AM!

    I usually carry very few clothing items and use laundramats and/or discard clothing and buy new as I go. I'm at about 60 pounds even with my Nikon D70 camera gear.

    The tire thing is interesting. Everyone talks about changing tires in Ankorage. Is it possible to make this trip on one set of tires if I start out with brand new Tourances on the V Strom?

    BEARS!....is any type of bear repellant recommended? Or just be carefull and camp with other folks?

    Any other hints............we're all ears!
    #14
  15. Highwayman

    Highwayman Saddle Up

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    One other must-do, which I haven't heard mentioned. North of Fairbanks, stop at Fox, AK. at the Howling Dog Saloon. www.howlingdogsaloon.com


    It's a large, old bar with small cabins out back for rent. ($40.00 /night)
    I used it as base camp when I did the Dalton Highway--great beer and cute girls, also.:clap The Hilltop Cafe is just a couple kliks away and has the best groceries in northern Alaska.

    Mike
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  16. justJeff

    justJeff Banned

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    The Howling Dog is a great place to meet a lot of fun folks, and get a real sense of the local flavor.

    I know that a lot of folks say that they can get 8,000 miles out of a set of Tourances on a Dakar. Go as light you can, and even in the worst case scenario, getting a new set of tire in AK wouldn't be a problem.
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  17. RDJEff

    RDJEff Lost in Alaska

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    Jeff,

    I've lived in Fairbanks for 50 years, and can tell you that the best weather in the interior of Alaska is mid-May through June. I've never travelled the Alaska Highway anywhere south of Whitehorse, so can't comment on that part of your trip.

    As far as bugs go, it really depends quite a bit on the weather, although a lot of areas you can count on the bugs being pretty intense, mosquitos early, and no-see-ums later.

    Whatever time you decide to travel, you'll enjoy the adventure! Buzz me if you need any more help.
    #17
  18. rpilottx

    rpilottx Long timer

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    I rode from El Paso to Anchorage 18 months ago on a VStrom 1000. I put new Torrances on before leaving and changed them a couple months after I got back.

    I think I got 12000 miles on the rear tire. I did not ride the Dalton Highway so 1000 miles of gravel might have an adverse effect on mileage.

    Its been my experience that July is wetter then June. My wife grew up in Anchorage and confirms my view. We were in Glacier National Park over Memorial Day for the start of our trip and were snowed upon. Mid June would probably be a great time for the trip.

    I will be riding there again this summer(if I don't head toward Newfoundland instead) and plan on leaving El Paso about 20 June.
    #18
  19. helikron

    helikron The Fixer

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    June June JUNE!!

    RDJeff and I are both here in Fairbanks; anything you need for your bikes can be had here. Several shops have tires and can help on short notice, but do the Right Thing and buy from Barb in Anchorage (and buy a Buttpad while you're there, if not before you start your trip! Your ass will love you long time).

    Any of the conditions already listed can be had any month of the summer, but less of the negatives and more of the positives are in early summer. Plus, anyone you need to deal with (tour-related) will still be in a fresh mood, contrasted with the sour, shoot-the-tourists feelings which many Alaskans harbor after endless friends and family mooching free lodging and guide services. Motorcyclists are exempt, but don't expect anything magical beyond 30 feet of your bike.

    That's it: come early, stay for a while, and enjoy a SAFE trip both ways.

    Ciao!
    #19
  20. KL5A

    KL5A Bugs are the new black

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    Another vote for Mid-May to June. 4th of july is about 50/50 for good weather and very often the rain settles in around early to mid July and doesn't stop until it turns to snow in mid September. I'm assuming that the rain itself won't be a problem but you'll miss a lot of the scenery if the WX is cruddy.
    Think about hitting Dawson on the week of the 16th-The Friday night festivities are not to be missed. Last year was a "hoot" :evil if you know what I mean...
    #20