Calling all Alaska touring experts.......Input needed...

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by RoyB, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice The Virginian

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    Greetings,

    I've decided to pull the trigger on a ferry for this 2014 touring season.

    It would be a $815 package which is Bellingham to Haines.
    It reads 2 days, 19 hours, 15 min.
    It's the M/V Columbia.

    When you consider the how far this ship is going, it appears the ship will do this without stopping to refuel. That's blazing fast.
    Will she stop at at least one port?

    ___
    I'd like to experince as much of the inland passage as possible.
    There is a $882 package that has a stop in Wrangell, and one in Juneau.
    The total trip is 7 days, 17 hours, 30 min.
    However, it appears that one must swap out vessels each time.

    So my question is, how much time do you spend in port? Hell, it looks like 2 days Wrangell, and 2 days Juneau. If so, I think I'd like to do that. There would be plenty of time to swap out ships.
    At night, could you go back to the ship and sleep?

    __
    Thanks for reading.

    __
    Edit:
    Ohh, wait, I get it. You get off your first ship with MC, then hang around for a couple of days for the next ship to send you to Juneau. Of course.... right?
  2. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Yeah, looks like the quickest time I could find was about 60hrs between B'ham and Haines.

    The ferries are usually in each port anywhere from 1 to 4hrs. Some ferry terminals are not near a town but you can still get off and stretch your legs. Each year when I arrive in Ketchikan the ferry's there for 4hrs so I offer to take some continuing passengers on a tour of KTN in my van.

    Here's a schedule of approx. running times between SE AK communities: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/routes.shtml

    And yep, looks like you got the $815 right.

    Have fun, Mark H.
  3. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

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    I had a friend who was riding the ferry south to Bellingham. He got off at one of the towns south of Juneau and then was late getting back to the ferry. The ferry left without him and took all his belongings and bike. He had to catch a plane back to Juneau, then a flight to Seattle and ground transportation to the Bellingham ferry terminal. He got there in time, but it cost him a bunch of cash. :cry
  4. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice The Virginian

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I'm a little too late on getting a good deal of just over $400. It would be mid May. It would have been a one stop over at the capital. They do not have the space at going from B. WA to their first stop.

    They are good to go from there.

    So the next trip is late May, early June. It's the $815 dollar package. They are good to go the whole way.

    As I looked farther into things, they had the lay overs, which as described before are just a few hours.

    I'd jump all over the $400 package if it was there, but it is not. I think I'll just skip a reservation and let what comes comes. I have plenty of time (the rest of spring and summer), and the DR loaded out is under 400lbs. We'll come up with something. :freaky

    thanks again.
  5. VincitOmnia

    VincitOmnia Flyover Adventurer

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    A buddy and I rode it June 2013 on our way up to Dawson and the start of the Dempster. We started the day in Telegraph Creek so we split it up by camping at Quiet Lake on the way up - that's about half way up the South CANOL to Ross River. The next day we rode on to Ross River and then to Dawson. I thought the southern part was a little dull as large parts of it are just a tunnel through the forest without any real views. The northern part was great however, and we saw lots of wildlife the whole way. Not sure what the deal is but right at dusk all the porcupines came out onto the road. Now that's a wildlife encounter you don't want to have.

    VO
  6. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    I have asked a few “noob” questions on the Alaska Primer (thanks for all the answers) and have a few more which probably belong here as its more to do with “trip” advice on routes, must see’s, good accommodation etc…<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    So I am dragging the other half to Alaska to visit my girlfriend who has married and lived in AK for over 20 years. We arrive late June to spend a few days in Anchorage to get sleep, our hire wheels, buy some gear (hardly worth bringing our gear as its all for hot weather riding). <o:p></o:p>
    So we ride to Haines, there we will meet my mate and her husband. They have a cabin we are going to stay for a few days, and check out the sights and even be there for July 4<SUP>th</SUP> (this will be good, we have no real event like this in Aus)<o:p></o:p>
    Then we will catch the ferry to Skagway and start to head “home” via Whitehorse and Haines Junction (I don’t think my skill level is up for the Dawson route :eek1)<o:p></o:p>
    Now for some ideas please. I am wondering which way is the best to come back to Anchorage, we have about 8 – 9 days of bike hire after Haines…<o:p></o:p>
    Here are the options that I am thinking about <o:p></o:p>
    From Haines Junction - <o:p></o:p>
    1. Go up to Fairbanks and head down through Cantwell to Anchorage (will the Alaska Canada hwy be heavy with traffic on this stretch of road ie full of RV’s and trucks ? Do you have road trains or B doubles like us on this major road?) <o:p></o:p>
    2. Go up the Alaska Hwy only as far as Delta Junction down to Paxson and do the Denali Hwy to Cantwell and Anchorage (this is really so I can say “done that” but it isn’t really essential.)<o:p></o:p>
    3. Go to Tok and Glenallen to the Copper Centre and visit Wrangell NP and go to Valdez. I would love to go then by ferry to Whiitier but I can’t seem to find the ferry details, I assume this ferry does not run very often (like the Inside Passage ones). If so then return back to Anchorage.<o:p></o:p>
    4. Or go straight back to Anchorage and check out the Kenai Peninsula? <o:p></o:p>
    So which route would you suggest we do ? I am really hoping for some guidance, I would like to do a bit of “dirt” road riding but it’s not “must “ do and realise this is very dependant on weather.<o:p></o:p>
    I am a slow old fart…. It’s not about the “miles” more the places, scenery, wildlife…. And a look in the door to USA with a view to coming back. My husband is a keen on wildlife and birdwatching as well. We have a copy of the Milepost and Phil Freemans book. <o:p></o:p>
    I would like to stay in cabins as much as possible, but am happy to camp if there is somewhere really good, (ok in truth I am a bit wary of the bear thing) and I don’t want to spend too many nights cooking (this is a holiday remember?) but we will buy a tent and sleeping mats so we will be able to stop if the weather goes bad, or I get tired or whatever, can we hire tents and sleeping mats?. And the same goes for the cooking gear, Jet boil with trangias. We won’t be able to take these back, can we rent/borrow and from where?<o:p></o:p>
    Thanks for letting me bend your “ear” :ear
    K
    <o:p></o:p>
  7. BHumW

    BHumW so many roads...

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    What do you anticipate for an avg. daily mileage?

    Up to Fairbanks and a short ride north to the Arctic Circle on the Haul Road might be nice to have on your list. Ride down to Cantwell (possible view of Mt. McKinley) and across the Denali Hwy, west to east, down to Valdez (with a ferry ride to Cordova and Child's Glacier) or back through Anchorage via Glenallen and down to Homer or Seward. If the weather is nice it can be a beautiful trip. Side trip through the Whittier Tunnel. If you still have time when you get back to Anchorage take a nice little day trip up the Hatcher Pass Road and down the Fishhook Willow Rd on the back side.

    The trip down to McCarthy and the Kennecott Mine is an adventure. Your not able to see as much of Wrangell Range as you would think but the mine and surrounding landscape is impressive in an historical sort of way.

    Truck traffic isn't bad. There are some on the Haul Road, but if you pull over and stop when meeting they will slow for you as well. Otherwise, there are travel trailer and RV's on the main roads but there's plenty of room to pass.

    Photos for much of the above can be found at bhumw.smugmug.com.
  8. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    well I am a bit slow and old you know :D
    On a good day with the guys I can get to about 250 km of 50 % dirt /tar mix with a few bakery and coffee stops on the way. I have done some days all tar to about 300 km fully loaded. Iron butt I am not.
    I have a 2000 BMW F650Gs with Karoos and they are noisy tyres. The hire bike is one of those G650GS that is a 800cc and have done a test ride and its a lot faster than my bike:evil
    I suppose I am after ideas of routes to get "most bang for buck" for our return trip to Anchorage but I suspect we will just be riding around with our jaws dragging behind us anyway and it will all look just fantastic and we wont want to give the bikes back.
    Nice idea re doing Fairbanks - Cantwell - Denali and then see if we can get to Kenai Peninsula.
    Just sooo many choices !
    thanks
    K
  9. BHumW

    BHumW so many roads...

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    It is hard to squeeze it all into one trip unless you have a month to spare… It's kind of why I've gone back 7 times, always more to see and do "next time"…

    It's all good. Weather will sometimes dictate what you'll do on any given day.
  10. nuttynu

    nuttynu NuttyNu Rider

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    If all the geese started a thread about weather Condition before flying to Alaska, I wonder if their population would still be the same ?
  11. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    First: Even though this looks to be a major highway on maps it barely qualifies as a secondary highway by most standards. Even the time of year you will be traveling - middle of the tourist season - it may be 5 or 10 minutes between seeing one vehicle and the next. Trucks can be an hour or more apart. In Canada you may see an occasional B train or short doubles, and in Alaska some longer doubles but no triples.

    Second: Rather than make firm plans now, let the weather direct you as you travel. From Haines Jct to Tok you don't have much choice (unless you want to backtrack to Whitehorse and do the Top-of-the-World Hwy through Dawson City). But at Tok you can either continue northwest toward Fairbanks or turn southwest toward Anchorage. Check weather reports and forecasts... and go toward sunny weather.

    If your decision at Tok takes you to Fairbanks first, there are things to do and see in that city. You may even decide to continue north to the Arctic Circle to say you have been there. Actually fewer miles of gravel now than crossing the Denali Hwy. If you do that, you may as well go all the way to Coldfoot, as the road is paved (broken and patched asphalt) for 25 miles before, and over 100 miles beyond, the Arctic Circle. Just beyond Coldfoot is the little village of Wiseman where you could stay (you would probably need reservations) or camp at the Marion Creek campground just north of Coldfoot. Then a ride down the Parks Hwy through Cantwell to Anchorage will be an easy one.

    This is quite a scenic option in that it would take you along the north side of the Alaska Range from Tok to Delta Jct, then south through Isabel Pass to Paxson. As you cross the Denali Hwy you remain on the south side of the mountain range with the mountains growing more distant in a big arc to the north before coming closer again at the west end - near Cantwell. In clear weather this offers some terrific views.

    Again - in clear weather this is a very scenic route. Shortly after leaving Tok you get into the Alaska Range mountains and before getting out on the south side you can begin spotting the higher peaks of the Wrangell Mts. My home is located between the two so I get some magnificent views.

    If you were to take this route, you have to make another choice when you get to the south end of the Tok Cut-Off at Gakona Jct.: A. North to Paxson and across the Denali Hwy. B. South 13 miles to Glennallen and turn west to Anchorage. C. Continue south to Valdez.

    A. Would let you experience the Denali Hwy but would not give you the benefit of the majority of Isabel Pass, which is one of my favorite stretches of highway in Alaska.

    B. Can take you through some great scenic areas with miles of mountains - to the north the Talkeetnas; to the south the Chugach Range, with the Matanuska River forming the boundary between the two.

    C. Would give you the opportunity to take a side trip down to the semi-ghost town of Chitina, and even on to McCarthy if you felt like riding a bit more gravel road (really in pretty good condition). Most riders who go down to Valdez feel that the trip down and back over Thompson Pass is one of the highlights of their trip. There are many ferry trips from Valdez to Whittier if you want to continue along that route (a highly recommended one). Schedules Click on "Prince William Sound"

    BTW - The Wrangell-St Elias National Park would be on your left from the time you reach the Nabesna Rd about 65 miles south of Tok. The road follows - pretty closely - the boundary all the way down to the Edgerton Hwy about 83 miles from Valdez. The park headquarters near Copper Center does have some interesting displays and information to make it worth stopping in for a visit.

    That's option "B" above.

    Most of the options above (except for B) would give you that.

    There is wildlife to be seen nearly everywhere in Alaska. It's not so much where you travel, but when. Most tourists seem to stick to the same schedule they have when they are "back home". So most wildlife learn that it's best to stay out of sight during the busiest time of day. If you get up early in the morning - with the sun - you are much more likely to see animals in their natural habitat. It has been my pleasure to watch moose thread their way through several parked RV's while their occupants slept, completely unaware of the animal's passing.

    If you're looking to get pictures to take back home, you'll usually get the best photos early in the morning or late in the evening, with the sun low on the horizon. At these northern latitudes the sun rises and sets almost horizontally, giving you many hours to take advantage of it.
    Most places you will be traveling will have accommodations available. It will probably be rare that you would have to resort to camping. Other than at Wiseman, should you opt to go there, you probably would not need reservations if you stop early in the evening.
  12. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    Pleased to read the comments on the "traffic" sounds about Aussie roads standards here in SA which is fine by me.
    I have found some other blogs by other riders and in mid july their comments about lack of traffic where a bit of an eye opener.
    We will play it by ear, hope we bring the warm weather (its gonna be 29 C tomorrow :lol3) listing some accommodation options (like the uni dorms at Fairbanks) and just subscribed to the thread on the Skagway ferry which may not be operational (?) by the time we were thinking of traveling over from Haines.
    Apart from Haines and meeting up with mates, we are totally loose to do as we want till the bikes are due back.

    The whole place looks just so bloody awesome..... cant wait.

    And thanks for that link for the ferry from Valdez..... just looked it up and its a regular service. Print out and pop in the paperwork !
  13. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    So I am going over a few threads and have some more questions-

    like the thread on the Parks Highway construction - what is meant by a "pilot" (car) on the construction zone, is this a vehicle that comes to you and makes sure no other traffic is oncoming (I take it over long stretches of single lane cos they are working on the other ?) to let you through ?

    we usually have portable traffic lights (and people with signs if its a busy spot).
    Is this the case ? Or ?

    And re reading the Haul Primer and seeing a few references to "metal" bridges, these are the roadway ? not bitumen but metal to let snow/ice through ?
    We dont have these ....... 35 mph norm ?

    And is there a possible volunteer out there to maybe give us an hour or so on the friday (late June) when we pick up our bikes to go "leader" with us so we remember to stick to the right?

    Will buy coffee and cake at the end for being a good sport ! Just a cruise around Anchorage to get us used to the road, I am a bit hesitant and am probably over worrying about this, who's up for a showing a couple of dumb aussies the ropes ?
  14. Alaskajeff

    Alaskajeff Long timer

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    I'm sure if you give Alaska Leather or the Motorcycle shop a ring someone will be able to get you hooked up with an Anchorage rider to take you on the nickle tour:lol3. I'm out in Palmer 45 miles north.....:)
    DON'T over think it brother, take your time, be safe, and you will do just fine!
  15. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

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    Good luck!
  16. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    sorry I don't drink beer....... hate the stuff.....

    I live 30 minutes south of the Barossa Valley and 30 minutes north of McClaren Vale ....... both great winery regions and we have numerous wineries about 5 minutes from here in the Adelaide Hills...... if you are ever over this way I can take you to a couple of dozen of them.

    Yes I am overthinking it ..... will ask at Alaska leather when we go to pick up our gear as well as the bike hire place.
  17. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

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    Fixed.
  18. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    Me again, totally off topic but we kinda thought we might hire a car for a day just to get around and pick up gear before we get the bikes (camping gear, riding gear, stuff ...)
    What its the deal with hire cars ? I looked at a couple and the price seems a bit OTT.
    $ 135 per day ? your kidding me yes ?
    for little Mazda 2 ?
    Is this because of "summer demand"?

    I found one place that does older cars for $65

    If its not ok to post commercial names can you PM me please with some places to get a cheap hire car for a day or so ?
    thanks
    K
  19. Alaskajeff

    Alaskajeff Long timer

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    It is PEAK tourist season here in AK right now so rental prices for ANYTHING are inflated at this time of the year. :eek1 Maybe some generous ADV inmate in Anchorage would lend you a vehicle to run your errands in?? Although we drive on the RIGHT here....maybe it would be safer if they would drive you around and you could spring for lunch??:lol3

  20. Kimi

    Kimi Been here awhile

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    well we are back and it was truly amazing, the bike was great and we changed plans (didnt get to Haines) but off to Fairbanks following the sun, the traffic was pretty non existant and only had the comms unit stuff up (got a new unit at Fairbanks)so overall we had a marvellous time.

    The trip to Valdez was the highlight, even in the showery conditions the spectacular scenery was ........ brings a tear to my eye.... and right at the end heading into old Valdez a brown bear loped across the road in front of me..... I nearly wet myself with excitement:D

    the ferry ride to Whittier was also a great way to travel and even met a fellow adv rider inmate at the end of the tunnel (XXMe) which I found pretty challenging..... alright downright nervous wreck material. But I did it and survived:lol3

    Alaska is so unlike Australia, we are so flat and red and dusty, it was a real joy and the words fail me on how beautiful it was to ride through this part of the world.
    thanks again for all the advice and if you ever in the land downunder give us a shout out :clap