Last year was our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska - there were a lot of highlights - and Top of the World is right up there with the best of them. To miss it is to miss a lot. The "road", particularly from the Border to Chicken seems more trail than road - and there are some interesting spots where you might find yourself squeezing the steering wheel a little more than normal - but there nothing that is not manageable if you start off with the mindset that you will need to drive slowly and carefully.
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...In the end the decision to go or not has to be subjective for each person but the feedback certainly helps! For me, I'm good to go! I'm not sure my wife shares my point of view but we'll work it out by the time we get to Whitehorse!
Since I drive a small Class C, I don't feel qualified to make a recommendation regarding a large 5th wheel such as yours, but to me, after driving the TOW, the most important consideration is rain. I don't think I'd drive it in a large rig if the road (particularly the Alaskan side) is muddy. Therefore, you might consider saving the TOW for the return trip, since if you end up having to backtrack, you're only looking at Chicken to Tetlin Junction (~95 miles) as opposed to Dawson to Whitehorse (~325 miles).
We have driven TOP several times - first time back in the 70's when the road was not much more than a dirt track and only open for about 6 - 8 weeks of the year.
If you take your time, stop when necessary as Joe has suggested and watch the weather, you should have an enjoyable journey. If you don't do it, you will probably regret it, especially when you hear others talking about their experiences. Go for it!
Something we have done 2X, and find very enjoyable is to spend a night boondocking around Border. There is a large circular pull-off with a monument where you can spend the night. The border closes at night so there is no traffic and it is so peaceful and the scenery gorgeous as you look across at the various ridges.
This spot is located on the Canadian side and you can look down towards the actual border which is probably less than a mile away. There are several trails that go across the tundra type vegetation and often wildlife can be spotted.
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Done it twice with our 36'LOA 5er. No problems. Drive to suit road conditions. First time we did Dawson City to Tok in 2 days. Last year we did it in 3 days. You have to stop at the turnouts & allow time to soak it all in.
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The Taylor Hwy. portion from Jack Wade Jct. (close to mile 96) thru Chicken (at mile 66) is the stretch to be most concerned about reference to the hills, curves, and a couple narrow stretches, so it is only a 30 mile stretch that is more rugged and or rough depending how much rain is endured...
Boundary Spur Rd. from Jack Wade Jct. of the Taylor Hwy. thru the Canada Border is a 14 mile stretch with increased hills from Boundary to the border (5 miles), however you do have much more visibility with less blind curves in the hilly part and the roadway is not narrow, but the road surfaces can be havoc (real bumpy) at times.
Top of the World Hwy. from Dawson City thru the US Border has been a vast improvement since 1998 and is a much nicer and more maintained road than in the past, some paved and some gravel portions now...as in 2006 it was mostly paved and the best shape I have seen it.
The Taylor Hwy. portion between Chicken and Jack Wade Jct. can be unforgiving if you drive it in a hurry or if the rains hit the area hard in which bad things can potentially happen if you are not very careful....We had record rainfall precipitation in the summer of 2008 as this stretch was open all summer although the roadside creeks were crested near flood stages, however in 2010 we had a lot of rain during June which prompted the road closure the majority of the remaining season which took out a couple sections of this route 10 days after I drove thru it in July due to landslides, permafrost exposure, or ground giving away at the road.
My travel thru the Taylor Hwy. in 2010 was the roughest I ever seen it in my 6 trips on it (first trip to dawson in 1992 before any of the improvements or pavement existed on the entire Taylor Hwy-Top of the World Hwy. Route), a lot of the ground was so saturated and washboarded.
Sure there are a lot of commercial tanker rigs, heavy mining equipment, cargo trailers, and many large RV's etc. go across it all the time....what is not mentioned is how these tanker rigs and some of the other large rigs operate on this road by making commute time more to my disliking when sharing the road by throwing gravel around, and all the speed demons in their passenger cars that tend to be in a hurry with the increased traffic than there used to be (although still not close to being moderate 'highway' traffic by any means).
Leaving Chicken towards Dawson way :
-Mile 66 thru 72 has more uphill than downhill with curves with a few examples :
Mile 69 Taylor Hwy as a 20 ft gap of this very stretch had exposed permafrost which made it impassible (July 2010)
Mile 72 Taylor Hwy with no guardrails (July 2010)
-Mile 75 thru 82 has more of the same but downhill to Walker Fork (with a nice BLM Campground in the basin)
Mile 80 Taylor Hwy. at the top overlooking Walker Fork with no guardrails (just barely gotten around a travel trailer blocking the roadway a mile back that was stranded as assistance was on the way) (July 2010)
Mile 81 Taylor Hwy. up on a hillside climb as this portion got swept away in July 2010 from what I understand (Aug 2008)
-Mile 86 thru 96 at Jack Wade Jct. is a gradual intermittent climb with curves, but mostly a wider road unless the shoulders get soft due to lots of rainfall...I always stop at Walker Fork for a couple hours or so if I am not overnighting there just to get a break before to endure the 10 mile uphill stretch that I seem to always cringe over everytime before driving it in my camper rig (going downhill in the opposite direction doesn't bother me).
Mile 91 Taylor Hwy climbing uphill grade (July 2010)
Mile 8 Boundary Spur Rd. overlooking Boundary and quite a washboarded road surface which was 5mph to 15mph in my rig all the way to Canada at this point (July 2010)
It is not anywhere near the world famous deathroad of South America by any means, however there are a lot of sections that have no guardrails and there is quite a drop as others have mentioned....
I had to take evasive action a few times from careless drivers on this stretch, the worst encounter was this 40 ft motorcoach in the mile 77-78 area was cruising around 45-50mph (seeing from the hillside) which was rediculous forming a large dustcloud from a distance knowing I was going to cross paths with it soon, as this motorcoach decides to drive 35mph around the 25mph blind curve sign by taking the whole entire roadway right in my path lane as I was literally turned to the very edge of the roadway and almost on the verge of capsizing off the road down an enbankment while slamming on the brakes, good thing my speed was roughly under 20mph.
I will say this - that in my opinion if I were towing a personal large rig of anykind, the preferred direction for me would be commuting from Dawson to Tok as the nastier stretches will start from the border crossing into Alaska, as there is mainly more downhill than climbing which helps some of the worries.
To the OP on skeptism of the route, generally you should be fine towing a 5th wheel by taking your time and in no hurry while checking weather reports and road conditions providing if it is not raining too bad before departing, the Chicken to Dawson stretch was ok in 2011 and im sure the 2010 troubled portions of the roadway were greatly improved by Alaska DOT when they were rebuilt.
A lot of rich mining history around those parts (what we call 40 mile country in this area) and you will feel some real ruggedness to it that will seem to take you back 100 years..spending two or three days between Dawson and Tok makes it that much more enjoyable rather than pushing it in an RV for a same day commute as others mentioned also.
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Boatingben, it can be done if you have plenty of time. The Yukon travel guide has it listed as the Klondike/Kluane Loop. Whitehorse to Dawson City=6 hours Dawson City to Tok to Beaver Creek=7 hours Beaver Creek to Whitehorse=5.5 hours. I'd say those are definitely the MINIMUM amount of time.
Been across TOW twice. Both times it rained. In 2010 the road washed out just the day after we crossed. Boondocked at Chicken one time and near the border once. Did not notice any drop offs of concern. I guess spending time driving the Sierra and Rockies condition one to drop offs.
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