How late is too late for Canada/Alaska?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Jamie Z, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    My original plan was to go to Canada and Alaska this year, canoeing and fishing with a buddy in Ontario in May, head up toward Tuktoyaktuk in June, explore Alaska through July, and head back to the US after that. Obviously all that's been wiped clean now.

    I've heard talk that the border might open by June 21/22. Or maybe July 1. Or is it July 21?

    A news article I read today said that a Biden-Trudeau talk did not come to any agreement. (Sorry, I tried to find a link but now I can't find the article.)

    So... Let's say the border to Canada opens on July 1. That's probably enough time for me to do what I want to do and have decent weather. I think. What about July 21? Is that enough time to explore Yukon and Alaska? What if it's pushed back into August?

    What about later than that? At what point do I scrap my northern plans entirely?

    I know there are people who buzz up to the Arctic ocean and back in three weeks, but that's not how I operate. I want an opportunity to see the land, get to know the people. I also understand that these aren't normal times. If I have to push this back a year, it will cost a lot in money and effort, so if I can make a reasonable trip this year, it will be better than waiting until next year.

    My schedule is pretty fluid right now, but I'm trying to get an idea of what my options are...

    So... how late is it too late to begin a ride up to the Arctic?
    #1
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  2. Dracula

    Dracula sagabona kunjani wena Supporter

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    All I can say is, few years back I planned and did in August a ride to NewFoundland - not Arctic Circle - and it was darn brutally cold usually at night (to camp) and downright scary when an Atlantic stormy weather hit all afternoon, as I was riding from Cow Head to L'Anse Aux Meadows. Not to mention Lobster season was over, which seemed real odd to me.. :bluduh

    In 2012 I rode to Alaska and made it there around the summer solstice. When the weather is sunny it's great. But when it starts raining day after day, you will be miserable camping. Still, a great adventure I'd like to repeat some day.
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  3. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    How is the fishing season where you're going in Canada? If the border opens later, will you miss it?

    If so, it might make sense to postpone the Canada fishing portion of the trip and head straight to Alaska.

    A third option is to fly to Alaska and rent a bike. I know...it's not the same. It's what I plan to do in 2022 though (I'll be 50 then). I can only get 2 weeks off during summer, so I couldn't do the trip otherwise. At least not until retirement, and it's not my way to count on the future for bucket list items.
    #3
  4. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    I rode to Fairbanks and back in mid September. A few chilly rainstorms with snow visible on the roadside mountains. Of course, that ride was the antithesis of your type of riding - it was during the 2001 Ironbutt Rally and I was riding an ST1100 with heated vest, sleeves, and gloves. I only camped a couple times farther south. For someone who really knows, hit up @Alcan Rider. He lives up there
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  5. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Labor Day, or thereabouts, I've had some beautiful trips over the Alcan Hwy both north- and south-bound. It can get pretty chilly at night, but normally (if it's not raining!) it will warm up nicely. One of the odd things - that folks from down south won't be aware of - is that when you get up near the Arctic Ocean the seasonal temperature change is delayed almost a month, due to the proximity of the ocean water. That is true both spring and fall.
    One of the advantages of late summer/early fall travel to the far north is that mosquito season is usually over and you don't have to worry about them taking you (and your motorcycle :eekers) off into the bush for a meal. The DISadvantage is that mosquitoes are replaced then by noseeums, gnats, and other stinging, biting insects. Below around 50°F/10°C they're usually still in bed (or wherever they hide when it's too cool to be flying around), so there is a little respite anyway, as long as you get up and moving early in the AM.
    #5
  6. Allan99

    Allan99 Adventurer

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    Global warming is definitely working in your favor. It is much warmer up there then it used to be.
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  7. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    Insect repellent with a high % of Deet is your friend. Carry hand wipes (baby wipes) to wipe the stuff off your face if you don't have access to a shower.
    Interesting note: ride reports with selfie pics, most riders always have their helmets on!
    It's not as bad as it sounds though, after a few days one gets used to the annoyance(usually:-) Setting up a tent can be an event to tell stories about though!
    The scenery is what makes the trip worthwhile! Wife and I couldn't find a room in Valdez, so left town to find a place to camp... came across a glacier with a moraine so we went hiking at 11 PM. Got back at 4 AM....
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  8. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial Supporter

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    I don't hold out much hope for Canada opening their borders anytime soon. I hope they prove me wrong.
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  9. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Jamie ,since you asked and since this isn’t your “ ride report” I will jump in with some thoughts .
    Since you prefer the meandering free form , relatively unscripted style of travel you would be wasting your effort if all you can manage is a start in the far north in August . You would be pushing into fall and begin complaining about the cold no doubt and the humidity too as it accumulates on the ground . There are good reasons why the majority of tourist motorcycle travel is done between May and September . Don't they shut access to the north slope road on September 1 , as I have read ?
    If like Alcan Rider you live in the neighbourhood you can indeed describe the excellent conditions in off-season rides with the comforting knowledge that should the weather have taken a turn for the worse you could quickly return home and huddle by the fire. You can pick your days for a ride .
    You as a vagrant ,wild camping motorcyclist will not have that low cost escape hatch and you will have to suffer through any and all inclement weather . It makes sense then to choose a time of travel where even the bad weather has a a better chance of being at least more survivable .Bad in summer is probably still better than bad in fall or bad in winter .Snow in any season is just miserable . It is the luck of the draw as to what your weather situation will be .
    Since half of June is already shot and it does not look promising for cross border travel until August, maybe , you might be smart to leave Alaska and the Yukon as a project for later years , they are not going to move .
    Oh ,and don't feed the grizzlies or other bears in those secluded camping spots
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  10. Possibly Certifiable

    Possibly Certifiable Verified Bing-nut

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    East coast, near 45th parallel, probably not where you're planning on being but the weather turns and starts to get iffy around the last week of September. Still nice days and nice days strung together, but a week's worth of drizzle at 8C (46F) is do-able but really not enjoyable. It's only going to be earlier the further north you go obviously. I ran into snow and snow covered roads going through the Mt. Washington/Gorham NH area in late September three or four years back. That was NOT a fun ride.
    #10
  11. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    Premiere of British Columbia is musing that the border will open to tourists sometime in August....
    Honchos are meeting today to discuss/plan opening... stay tuned
    #11
  12. cmattina

    cmattina Long timer

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    My bet is it will be fine until early September. You can look at weather average and make your choice based on those.

    Where in ontario are you fishing?
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  13. cmattina

    cmattina Long timer

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    on some of the fly in lakes around me, you can catch 100 walleye a day all summer long! On the drive in lakes, probably only 10 or 20...
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  14. ADV Wanderer

    ADV Wanderer Been here awhile

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    Don't want to hijack the thread, but I had to look up Red Lake, Ont on Google Maps. Really up there in a literal end-of-the-road location. I have no doubt the fly-in fishing is as epic as you indicate!
    I'd be jealous, but then I remember winters! :vardy
    #14
  15. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Maybe you can make it to Bella Coola and explore British Columbia more extensively this season when possible vs just burning up the highway to make it north?


    Bella Coola
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/eYm1mWkkp9fwdku29
    #15
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  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Fishing and paddling trip were supposed to be with a friend in Ontario in May. It didn't happen.
    I've been looking at climate data on weatherspark to help me decide.

    Now that the border is closed until at least July 21, the specific question is... is leaving late July too late? I guess it would give me about six weeks of potentially decent weather.
    #16
  17. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    You be the judge:

    A couple of riders who were a little late in leaving Alaska - DSC01520.JPG
    This was taken October 2, 2008 at Glennallen, AK. They made it about 5 miles before one of the riders went down, no damage, thankfully. I got my flatbed trailer and we loaded both bikes onto it. Hauled them about 65 miles toward Tok, out of the snow, dry highway, and unloaded. They made the mistake of only riding another 20 miles and stopping for the night near the top of Mentasta Pass. The snow passed them during the night and they had to ride through it again the next morning.

    Headed north on the Alcan September 15, 2005 somewhere just south of Liard Hot Springs Lodge. Nice weather, beautiful highway, little traffic. DSC00360.JPG

    September 28, 2003 near the highest point on the Denali Hwy, west of Paxson, AK. No snow tire on the Wing, just a bit of snow in the parking area.
    P9280001.JPG

    The climb up to Atigun Pass on the Dalton Hwy/Haul Road, September 1, 2007. DSC01556.JPG

    September 22, 2008 - at the top of Atigun Pass on the Haul Road.
    DSC01387.JPG
    While it was dry and sunny south of the pass, there was a blizzard blowing over the top. So I showed a little bit of common sense (for a change) and retreated. Had a beautiful ride back to Fairbanks.

    The time frame you are talking about usually offers some of the nicest weather of the entire year. Not too hot, usually after the worst of the rainy season, and pretty fall colors. But... as always, there are no guarantees. Be prepared for the worst :vardy, and be happy when you get the best :wings.
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  18. knight

    knight Long timer

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    During a late September day in 2019, Waterton NP on the Can/US border received over 3 feet of snow during a 24 hour period
    Motels in the area start at $140 a night

    Motels in Whitehorse start at $185 plus tax , Territorial park campsites in the Yukon with free firewood only cost $11

    Camping in Tuk on the shore of the Arctic Ocean was free when I camped there in 2018
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  19. cmattina

    cmattina Long timer

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    I don't know how long it will take you as that depends on how many miles a day you are doing. You can probably get to Northern BC from Thunder Bay (northwest Ontario) in two or three nights (three or four days). I'm personally not a huge fan of the northern prairies compared to the southern prairies, so i'd fly through Manitoba and Sask. but, to each their own.

    I still think you're A-OK until September 15th. And risking a bit if you take it later.
    #19
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