Questions regarding Robert Campbell Highway, Canol Road and ...

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by JohnSnyder, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

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    I'm planning a trip to Alaska next summer, and I've read 40 or more accounts that other motorcyclists have written about their Alaska trips. A very few of these individuals have ventured onto the Robert Campbell Highway (Highway 4 between Watson Lane and Carmacks with Ross River halfway between), even fewer have dared to ride the Canol Road (Highway 6 between Johnsons Crossing and Ross River, and then further north between Ross River and the border of the NorthWest Territories). I've read only one account of someone taking a side trip off the Top of the World Highway at Jack Wade up north to Eagle.

    I would be hugely grateful if individuals who know anything about these three roads would provide information which would allow me to make an intelligent decision regarding whether I wish to ride these roads. I'll have a BMW F650GS Dakar. I don't want to ride a dirt road just to ride a dirt road, but I'd look forward to riding a dirt road if there was spectacular scenery or some other attraction and a motel at the other end!

    Once again, the roads in question are:
    Robert Campbell Highway in Yukon
    Canol Road in Yukon
    Road between Top of the World Highway and Eagle in Alaska

    Thanks in advance.
    #1
  2. friar mike

    friar mike IronButtGruver

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  3. akrider

    akrider mild adventurer

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    The road into Eagle is about the same as the road from Chicken to the Boarder. Well graded dirt.

    Eagle is good stop. It is worth the 62 miles each way. In fact it is worth spending a night just to take in the tour and the history.
    #3
  4. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

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    Thanks, Friar Mike. I hadn't seen that thread. His descriptions were brief - I hope I learn something more about those roads before having to make a decision. That fellow certainly did a comprehensive tour - lots of backtracking, but he hit almost every road that I've read about!

    And thank you, AKRider, for the information on the road to Eagle. If it's worth the trip, I'll definitely put it on my itinerary.
    #4
  5. hondav2

    hondav2 Kiwi Fukengruver

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    Eagle Road, easy ride , good road town and accomodation at end.
    North Canol about 160 miles to NWT border great ride, top road , no shop or gas , take enough for 350 miles to be safe, There is a cabin at about the 50 mile mark that had a guest book in it. Best to ride with another person for safety , there was some big beer shit up there, scenery and old truck dumps great, CJ from Tok and me rode up there in 2005. We struck rain on south canol, slippery with worn rubber and scenery not as good as north canal. 4 best rides I done were , Inuvik, Prudhoe Bay, Kennicott Copper mine, North Canol, all 4 are must do rides if you have time. tkc 80 tyres would be my pick . Cheers Toddy
    #5
  6. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

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    Thanks a lot, Toddy. It sounds like the road to Eagle is a no-brainer and the North Canol Road would be a great ride but would require planning to make sure one could get back to civilization!!

    I spent 22 days touring New Zealand a couple of years ago - 2 weeks on the South Island and 1 week on the North Island. John Fitzwater (GoTourNZ.com) was the fellow that led the tour, and our group had a fantastic time. I'll never forget the "bra fence" (I think it's somewhere in the Queenstown area), or Milford Sound, or the fantastic twisty roads, or the pig and the sheep that darted out in front of me nearly wrecking me!
    #6
  7. KLR650Canuk

    KLR650Canuk Rasshøl

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    Have you checked out this website yet? http://www.motorcycleexplorer.com/

    I am planning to do this ride in June, but instead of going into Alaska, we are going to head up the Dempster to Inuvik. There is some information about road quality and services on the Campbell hwy. in the Milepost.
    I have hiked a little of the Canol from the Norman Wells side in the early 80's, and saw lots of neat stuff (trucks,jeeps,1/2tracks, aircraft hangars and barracks with stuff still on the shelves).

    Maybe I will see you up there

    :ricky
    #7
  8. BAZZER450

    BAZZER450 Been here awhile

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    did that whole trip in june of this year .... made about 100k into nwt. before rivers were to deep to get through.There is even A geochache there check that thread for location #31 pm me with any questions. you would have no troubles with your bike on any of the area's you mentioned. The south canol was closed due to numerous washouts but north was well worth it !!
    #8
  9. yukonlarry

    yukonlarry Adventurer

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    The Robert Campbell between Watson Lake and Ross River is mostly good dirt, beautiful scenery and patches of pavement in the strangest places. After Faro the road is mostly paved. There are no services between WL and RR, there is no gas between RR and Carmacks. The gas station in Faro burned down. The South Canol is a terrific road, dirt and scenery which is spectacular. Lots of places to camp but there are no services on the Canol road until you get back out to the Alaska Highway at Johnstone's Crossing. The North Canol to the NWT border, I think it actually goes to Norman Well NWT, is nice. You would have to go in through RR and come back out the same way. Hope this helps.
    #9
  10. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

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    On my topographical map of Canada, I've counted 60 (sixty) water crossings between the town of Ross River and Sheldon Lake!! And Sheldon Lake is little more than half way to the border between Yukon and the Northwest Territories!

    Are these water crossings that the map shows genuine streams through which one must ford? Are any of these streams crossed by functioning bridges?

    How far up the North Canol road is it reasonable to expect to go? (I'm 65, not an experienced dirt biker, will have a BMW F650GS Dakar and am adventurous but not willing to push the envelope to the point of getting into trouble in a remote area).

    My hope is that my companions and I could have a day trip from Ross River up the N. Canol road, returning to Ross River the same evening. Is that a realistic hope?

    ADVrider.com - what a great source for information!!! ADVriders - what great people!!!
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  11. Exurban

    Exurban Long timer

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    Did I read this right? About 360 miles Watson Lake to Carmacks and no gas? I'd need about 4 extra gallons of gas to make it.
    #11
  12. onegoodkick

    onegoodkick Rainforest rider

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    you should be able to get to about here with no problem:

    [​IMG]

    this is the first collapsed bridge we came upon. This is approxiamtely the border into N.W.T. You can ride through the river here but I too was not that adventurous on this trip. That's my boy in the picture. He had just turned 14 the day before we started. This was his first ride. I did not want to risk dump'n it.

    couple of other shots:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]


    Mackenzie river #4 I think.

    [​IMG]

    These were all from the North Canol road



    The South Canol you will have to put up with this:

    [​IMG]

    and

    [​IMG]

    such is life.
    #12
  13. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

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    Thank you SO much, OneGoodKick!

    The collapsed bridge that stopped your progress - do you remember if it was before or after Macmillan Pass? Any chance that you remember the name of the river at that point?

    When you did that ride, did you take two or more days for the round trip from Ross River to the NWT border? We'll not have any camping equiipment. Do you think there's any way we could do it in one day (while still enjoying the scenery and the experience)?

    Thanks again for your input.
    #13
  14. onegoodkick

    onegoodkick Rainforest rider

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    At the bridge we are already coming out on the other side of Macmillan Pass. According to the "MILEPOST" you end up at mile 144.2 which is the border. It mentions a vehicle turnaround there so we must have been just past that a mile or so. I remember seeing a truck with a horse trailer in a big gravel area back abit from the end. I don't know the name of the river but it might have been the Tsichu river if the map is accurate.

    this pic and the next are both in the pass:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next question: doing it in one day? NO

    Im sure there are folks who have raced through and have done it. To me that would be like racing the Baja.....Ok bad example ...that sounds fun too. You see John, I"m the "stop and smell the roses" kind of guy. Around here it would be fireweed or skunk cabbage. :rofl Anyway my point is if you don't take the time on this trip to look around at the magnificent scenery and say: "Holy crap, I'm in the the middle of fricken nowhere." why bother going?

    We camped at Dragon lake and made this our base.
    [​IMG]

    this is about 65 miles up the road. From there we did day trips.


    The problem with doing it in one day starts here:

    [​IMG]


    this is the ferry one has to take to get started leaving Ross river. It runs from 8:00am to 5:00pm and closes for lunch time. So you have about 290 miles round trip to do in 9 hours. thats an average of almost 33 mph. Doable yes. Lets see, if I don't drink any coffee it would cut down on the pee breaks. ignore the scenery...no flat tires...good weather...etc. etc.

    go for it...oh BTW, I had a flat

    you would miss this:

    [​IMG]

    this is Dragon Lake at 11:30pm
    #14
  15. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

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    I REALLY want to ride the North Canol Road, and I want to do it right! And I have to agree that that pretty much mandates camping.

    My friends and I don't plan any camping during our 6+ week trip, but we would be forced to make an exception in this case. Extensive perusal of the Internet revealed a company in Faro, YT called Nature Friends Outdoor Adventures (http://www.nfyukon.com/tours.htm) whose website indicates that it might be possible to rent the camping equipment that we need. Has anyone dealt with these folks in the past?

    How many days would you advise as being necessary to take advantage of what the North Canol Road has to offer? We'd certainly be interested in riding on passable side roads and taking pictures; however, due to knee issues, two of us would not plan on extensive hiking.
    #15
  16. BAZZER450

    BAZZER450 Been here awhile

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    the bridge in the pictures John is the first water crossing ...I assume from the pict that it was taken later in the year ..late july aug ?? as the water was higher when crossed it mid june ... it was deep but we made it ... this bridge is aboiut 5 or so klicks from the border ... just past the game station ... as this is big time hunting area the feds have temporary game checks starting in aug I think .. you want to try the left of the bridge to cross .... the next crossing is when you start to really get into the valley bottom a few clicks down the road .. the scenery has really changed from whence you started turning into caribou tundra. we needed a truck to cross here ...short but deep we put our bikes in one at a time and forded across .then the trip thru the valley was fantastic with more crossing and untill we had to turn around do to fuel contraints ...the 950adv needed about 3 tanks to get in and out from ross river . i am thinking we put on about 400 klicks there and back . If you are going it would be a shame not to go. You should Camp the night in Mac pass around the army surplus dump . take a pict from your tent and I can assure you that you will have never had that view in your life !!! if you didnt spend the night in the tent you would miss the whole reason these bikes have been made !! We had very good weather , so the trip in was a piece of cake .. but once in the nwt the only limit is how hard you want to work to keep going.The rest of your trip will be an easy one . Although some one mentioned the gas staion in Faro burnt down ?? was that the shell ? but anyways your bike will have all the range you need to go anywhere there .. you will need 2 tanks in and out from the canol . dont skimp because there is lots to explore in the 2 days you are there ( ross has everything you need ) we stayed in somebodys trailer ... I will see if I can find his number for your stay over in. or camp on the other side of the Pelly after the ferry.We also started out trip by riding to hay river NWT then back to BC thru fort liard ....this is a fuel problem we never realized!! we thought it was 400 km from hay river . but in fact it was more like 550km. We would have been up the creek if we hadnt met an Indian campsite maintance guy ...(very nice fellow) who told us of the Jean Marie indian Reservation on the banks of the Mackenzie River where we could get fuel .... We were a bit skeptical because this would have add another 60 k round trip to range that would have had us making multiple trips in fort Liard with one bike as it was ..... but as with everything in our trip the guy was right and the chief was an fantastic fellow with keen interest in our trip and a few 500gal gas tanks . The kicker also was it was the cheapest fuel of the trip !!. You are coming from the east I would suggest entering your Northen Adventure in the same manner .From Fort Liard go to Fort Nelson thru Stone Muncho to watson lake and Ross River 4day maxs fron Grande Praire ... you will get to see all area's the North has to offer (But will not see alll the North )this trip will show how vast and large this area is :freaky
    #16
  17. Van Isle

    Van Isle Been here awhile

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    I was researching this a few years ago, and I recall that it was possible to arrange for fuel at Ross River, and, if you wanted, also along the way (by air drop $$$)

    How far you can get depends entirely upon that summer's melt. What was an easy creek bed one year could be a huge whitewater another. SO although past experiences are good overall it's still a watch-and-shoot with respect to creek/river/raging torrent crossings.

    The previously mentioned www.motorcycleexplorer.com/ was one of the best resources I found on the Canol Road.

    CBC did a show on "Roads to Nowhere" that included the Canol. The history is great, and so is the Stan Roger's song, "The Canol Road."

    Please RR this trip!

    VI
    #17
  18. KLR650Canuk

    KLR650Canuk Rasshøl

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    I am a Stan Rogers fan, and I have not heard this song. I will have to try and find it!
    #18
  19. BAZZER450

    BAZZER450 Been here awhile

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    There is gas at the store in Ross River easy to get . way easier and cheaper to pack in gas you can always ride aways and stash ....but you cant really get far enough to require more than a couple tanks worth .... there really is not much to worry as the road thru to the nwt is in good shape with good bridging.
    #19
  20. BAZZER450

    BAZZER450 Been here awhile

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    here was my post in the geo cache thread if you make it dont forget to grab it ..........



    Well I think that this is the first one North of 60
    I hope that he who finds it has as much fun looking for it as i had placing it
    you will see some amazing country for sure !!
    Cache #31
    n63,17.732
    w129,50.072
    let US Army # 99811 take you for a ride back in time !!! good luck :freaky
    #20