This is a copy of a post I put up back in 2010. With the fiber optic cable in place the installation of cell towers should go quickly. Only time will tell if it is economically feasible to do. Virtually all the villages in Alaska now have cell service, tied into the state owned TV satellite system that used be known as RATNet. Rural Alaska Tellivison network. It has created a lot of positive situations and some negative ones, especially in the areas of fish and game management. I just hope that soon, it will get reasonable in cost to use a US cell phone in Canada and visa versa for Canadians traveling in the US.
Start of old post:
As mentioned above, cell service is very limited to non-existent along many miles of the Alaska Hwy. However the good news is that Northwestel, a Canadian communications company has in the last few years laid a fiber optic cable along side the Alaska Hwy for about 2,000km, running from the Yukon, to northeastern BC and on into Alberta. This allows for very good Internet service and WiFi in many places. Almost every town or village in Canada, regardless of size will have Internet services, normally found at the local library, town haul, school, etc. Just pulling up to the local library and most of the time you will find a WiFi hot spot, free to use.
So it shouldn't be too long before someone or the Canadian government puts up more cell towers along the Alaska Hwy and uses the fiber optic line for transmissions. Makes it possible for the small remote businesses, to have ATMs, credit card machines, credit card fuel pumps, etc. (the fiber cable was accidentally cut by a drilling contractor the other day and messed up the northern Internet services for users.
We tend to turn our cell phones off in Canada and use prepaid phone cards available at Sams, Cosco, Wal Mart, Target, Canadian Tire, etc. Still many more pay phones available in Canada than in the US.
We use the Intenet for communications with family and any business I need to take care of while traveling. Do my bill paying and other banking needs at certain places, Whitehorse, Valdez, and Fairbanks at systems that use a password. Works great and we have been doing it for years. Our daughters, grown ones now, know that I tend to check my emails every day or two if anything comes up.
Formerly of Colorado and Alaska
2011 Chevy 3500 DRW Dmax CC 4X4- Rockwood 8281 SS 5th Whl & 2008 Lance 845 TC
www.pajbcooper.com web site
Alaska-Colorado and other Trips posted
"Without challenge, adventure is impossible".
Here is some google info for Alaska and ATVs.
Basic message appears to be not on public roads.
I have seen some out on the Petersville Road and up by Eureka Lodge on the Glenn Hwy east of Palmer in the past. They were just not real popular when I was living in the rural areas of Alaska. Snow machines were very popular, and dog teams for winter travel. I owned one of the 3 wheeler Honda Big Reds for a couple of years before moving south to Colorado.
I really doubt most of the campgrounds are going to allow them to be riden in the CG, be it private, state or federal ones. If it is easy to take along, then take it but I wouldn't make much extra effort to have one with me in the north country unless there was some specific trail or area I wanted to explore more thoroughly. The 40 Mile and 60 mile mining areas being some that pop to mind. 40 in Alaska, up toward Eagle/Chicken and the 60 is in Canada on the road between Dawson Town and the border on the Top of the World Hwy.
Just keep in mind it can be a long walk back if you have any problems. Just like bush flying or 4 wheeling. We used to say the main different in getting stuck or breaking down, in a 2 wheel drive vehicle and a 4 wheel drive one, was with the 4 wheel drive one you had twice as far to walk back. LOL
If you or anyone takes an ORV with you, check with the locals, dealers, clubs, lodges, etc about the places they recommend you go. I used to average about 5,000 miles a year on snow machines, the ones with working odometers and seldom went too far out of town solo. With longer trips, there would usually be 4 or 5 machines and we always took one empty freight type sled with us. It was a rare trip that one of the rigs didn't return home, on the sled, as something had broken on it. LOL
Give some serious thoughts to why you are wanting to visit the north country. Once you have some rough ideas to that it is much easier to plan your trip. A lot of good advice in the above posts. Most of the sport fishing is on a calendar basis. The salmon run about the same time each summer. Baby wildlife are mainly in the spring for photography. Bugs are less in the late fall, as are the crowds of people.
After spending 25+ years in rural Alaska, fall would be my favorite time of the year. The crowds of summer time Kenai, just doesn't appeal to me any more for fishing. We now spend more time in Valdez than we ever did when living in Alaska. I think it is far enough from Anchorage, that you don't have the weekend mobs of people heading down to fill their freezers with fish.
But, anytime from breakup to freeze up can be great, and well worth while being in the north country of Canada or Alaska. Whatever and whenever you make the trip, just stay flexible with your time schedule. The fall rains, light though they be most of the time will hang around till it turns to snow in October, in the Interior of the state. Our last RV trip of the fall, was a family get together on the Denali Hwy, near the Paxson end around the Tangle Lakes. Cool clear mornings, some freezing temperatures, great grayling fishing, sitting around the campfire at night, few if any biteing bugs. The tundra vegetation was changing into it's fall colors. Just doesn't get much better for me, than fall time on the Denali Hwy. unless it is spring time lake trout fishing in Paxson Lake, just as the ice is starting to melt around the edges. I love Alaska in all the seasons, just small degrees of preference with the seasons. LOL
I would agree with Bill, Trackrig, to check around for different, lower, prices. Most summers, I remember being able to save up to a dime a liter on fuel in Whitehorse, by going downtown to the gas bar by Super Foods or whatever the name of the super market is, instead of buying up on the hill along the Alaska Hwy.
Another place is Haines Junction. At the intersection where you turn right to head for Beaver Creek and Alaska, avoid the gas station on the inside of that turn. They have at times been up to $.20cnd a liter higher than other places in town. Location, location, location.
Over the years, I have run into some real gougers on fuel prices. On one trip north, probably in the early 70s, I was flying a Piper aircraft up to Alaska from the Lower 48 for a friend, just for expenses. Had some bad weather chasing me so stayed in the air longer than I normally would have. Landed in Watson Lake and called the local fuel supplier. At most I had about 3 to 5 gallons of av gas remaining in my tanks. The supplier, over the radio told me he would deliver the fuel to me at the airport and he charged $5 a gal for it. The last fill up I had paid about half that much in southern Canada. I had to have fuel so told him to bring it out to the airport.
He showed up in a pickup with a 55 gal sealed drum of 80/87 av gas. He told me it was $325cdn cash. The Canadian dollar was worth about $1.25usd at the time so we were talking serious money.
Told him I only wanted 10 gal at that price and was informed, that was fine but the cost was still $325cdn for the drum. Said he only sold it by the full sealed drum. Quickly realized the situation was like dropping your soap in the shower room of a men's prison and bending over to pick it up.
I paid him the $325. Took about 30 gal to fill both 18 gal tanks on the plane. He then asked me what I wanted to do with the remaining fuel in the drum.
Told him to enjoy it and never again stopped there for av gas again. I got reimbursed for the cost by the plane owner but he didn't grumble much since I was flying for free, just expenses. LOL
Many things in the north country are cheaper now than in the past, especially out in the rural areas. About $8 a gal for av gas was the most I ever paid, in the village of Stoney River. Freight charges could double the prices on items, or more.
Snowbird season varies some. Many of our Canadian snowbirds will get here prior to our Thanksgiving and head home before their federal tax day, April 15. Then the snowbirds from the NE split into two groups in this area of south Florida, with one group getting here just prior to Christmas and the others come down just after the first of the year.
Most of the snowbirds in this area are not using RVs, but lease or own homes, apartments and condos. Some drive here but others fly in as they leave a vehicle or two here while they are back north foe the summer. The car train is very popular as it will take you and you vehicle to northern Virginia or back down.
North or south of this area on the Treasure Cosst, there are numerous campgrounds so the snowbirds in RVs will be in those areas. There are areas and campgrounds south of here, Stuart, that cater to the French speaking Canadians, there are a couple of French language radio stations and newspapers.
Lot of verbiage to say most of the snowbirds are here in Florida basically November to mid April.
Christmas is a nice park if the location works. For a month I would take a look at what Tropical Palms has in Kissimmee, it is about a 10 minute drive south of EPCOT. The ocean side of Florida is only a couple of hours drive from Orlando with numerous campgrounds located there.
State parks may limit you to the length of stay allowed.
Kotzebue is a favorite place for me to visit. The NANA Native Corp has an interesting jade mining operation not too far out of town. The also own and operate a nice hotel in Kotzebue, located right on the beach of the Bering Sea. Getting to see this part of Alaska will always be with you. This area is part of the real Alaska, something most tourists never get to see and experience. Take a lot of photos, as the opportunities are everywhere you look. While I haven't been there in years, doubt it has changed much, as there has been a village in the area for several thousand years.
I bypassed my Jeep Wrangler wiring system completely. Purchased a set of boat trailer LED lights, mounted them on the rear Jeep bumper, then ran the trailer wires, that came with the lights, under the jeep to its front bumper. Then use a 4 ft extension to plug in the new rear bumper lights to my tow vehicle's 4 prong plug in.
I wanted turn signals as well as brake and running lights. Now I can tow my Jeep behind any vehicle that has a flat 4 plug. I have had my Ready Brake for several years now. It has been trouble free and works like I expected it to do. Plus my toad battery never gets run down as some systems will cause.
I tend to use 50 mph for an average speed for planning from here in south Florida, it is roughly 5,000 miles or about 100 hours of driving time to Fairbanks. For me, that works out to be about 10 driving days. Seldom do I go up or back in those 10 days but have before. I know where I want to stop and spend time, so it generally takes about two to three weeks to get in that 100 hours of driving. From here to the Canadian border, I may make closer to 600 miles a day, then less the farther north I get.
When I go to the north country, that is where I want to spend my time, not sitting somewhere watching the grass try to grow. Some people like to only drive 3 or 4 hours a day, but it is going to take them a month, give or take, to get to Alaska. It you have no time restrainsts, that works for a few, but most of us, retired or not tend to only have so much time for the trip. Age and personal health play a big roll with some as a long day is too tiring for them. So how long to drive is a very personal matter for each of us to decide. I am an early riser and often on the road by 7 AM or earlier, so it is not hard for me to have covered 200 to 250 miles by lunch. If I want to stop and fish, I do or take a few photos. IMHO, a lot of the Alaska Hwy passing through the northern boreal forest, is a bit boring. What you see now, is what you saw yesterday and probably what you will see tomorrow. In the 20 something round trips I have made to/from Alaska, I have yet to find a reason to stop every couple of hours for the night. If, because of a persons age, one trip is all they will ever make, then they are going to want to see everything they can on this one trip. However, with many of us that are addicted to north country, we know/hope there will be future trips. At my current age, 72, I accept the fact that I only have a few more trips to take. I would like to get in 2 more round trips by RV, to give me a total of 15 rV round trips, a nice even number.
In the past, I have taken a month, one time, and another trip I made it from Anchorage to Houston Texas in 6 days. Neither of those are good choices for me except when those work the best.
The full width rock guards is tied to how low they are to the ground. When the suspension on your RV goes up and down, it the guard is mounted too low, then it will drag the ground and send a shower of anything on the road back on your tow. Especially can be a problem on gravel roads or in areas of road construction. ON a normal paved (clean) highway, it isn't usually a problem it if hits the ground. Most of the time on pavement it will be lifted somewhat by the wind under your rig as you run at highway speeds.
The mud flaps, whatever you want to call them, that are mounted behind each rear set of tires, when properly mounted the correct distance behind the tires tend to work better. I have always heard that the mud flaps should be 1/3 of the wheel diameter off the ground when at travel height. So a 22.5 inch wheel should have them just over 7 inces off the ground and a foot or so behind the tire.
Now these guards will take care of most of the rocks your rig throws up, but most vehicles you meet going too fast, will be spitting rocks out the side to some degree. Stand beside a gravel road sometimes and watch where the rocks from approaching vehicles end up. (don't stand too close or you will be wearing them)
Tcrgolf, my Chevy one ton DRW crew cab diesel has a GVW of 13,200 and weighs about 8300. My combined GVW is about 22,000 lbs so with my 5th wheel at 9,200 and my truck weight, I am about 5,000 lbs under the sticker limit.
I might add to what Suzi had to say about closures, one trip, we were stuck for about three days on the Cassiar Hwy due to washouts. We had them on both sides of us, ahead and behind. Must have been about 10 or 12 vehicles stuck there together. Luckily most were RVs so there was plenty of food and drink for everyone. Had a couple of OTR truckers and a couple of tent campers. So it was one big pot luck three times a day. Fired up my 4 KW generator every morning and put a couple of pots of coffee on to cook outside my rig. Anyone that wanted a cup could stop by to serve themselves. Then we would have a group breakfast of donated food. It was actually a lot of fun, as I think back to that trip. Both truckers had sleepers on their cabs so everyone was set to stay and had a place to sleep. That was probably the most time I ever ran my generator as I dislike the sound of them greatly.
Thanks to Suzi I now know what a PD machine is, now to look up what it does. In the 15 years I rode in the back of ambulances as a cardiac medic, don't remember every running into such a machine. Lots of renal dialysis machines in hospitals. Learn something new every day on this forum.
On edit: Just did a google search on the PD machines. I continue to be amazed at the progress of medical treatment these days. So the 600 watts would be just over 5 amps at 120 volts. My Honda 2000I will pull 16 amps intermittently and 13.3 amps continuously they claim, and is somewhat quite. To use a bit of interpolation then a Honda 1000i should pull 8 amps intermittently and 6+ all the time. Plenty for a 600 Watt load. I borrowed a 1000i one time from a friend to be able to watch TV after one of the hurricanes that hit us here in south Florida. Had it running on my front porch and it was very quite, easy to start, easy of fuel and ran like it was supposed to do.
Any of the good inverter generators should work just fine, as you might not have to use it very often but would have it if needed. Check around on sales for inverter generators, Camping World sells a brand, lots of us like Honda and Yamaha brands and there are others.
I have never been asked about prescription drugs, that I have with me. Normally, at least in the US, a ninety (90) day supply is considered for personal use. Make sure the meds are in the original containers, with the patients name on it. It is helpful to have the prescription on file with a pharmacy that is both local to you at home and also operates in Alaska. I use Walgreens here and in Wasilla.
Unless the pills are a heavy duty analgesic (pain pills) narcotic based, I wouldn't be concerned. If they are narcotic based, I would give a call to the Canadian authorities.
Not a clue what a PD machine is or does. Is that 600 watts per useage? I use a CPAP machine (controlled pressure) breathing machine for sleep apnea and run it off of 12 volts or thru an inverter, the same one I use to recharge my laptop battery. I carry a jump start car kit and my CPAP will run several nights off of the battery in it.
It shouldn't be too difficult to plan your nights stops at campgrounds where you have power available. Places that run their own generators, check with them to see if it is run 24 hours a day. The last time I stayed at Coal River Lodge, they were turning off their generator at 10:00 PM and back on the next morning about 7:00AM trying to save on fuel costs. That worked fine for me.
We ran the basic reverse of this trip for a number of years from western Colorado to south of Okie City. Our favorite route with a good chance of decent weather was to go east to Interstate 25, at Pueblo, south to Raton, NM, east to Clayton, then Dalhart, to Amarillo. East on I 40 to Okie City and south on I 35.
With that said, some of the worst winter weather I have ever seen has been in the Panhandle of Texas. One trip we were stuck in Shamrock for several days and had Turkey Day dinner there, rather than at my parents.
If the Raton area has bad weather, go on east on Hwy 50, into Kansas and cut south when you find better weather to I 40. We had to do that a time or two. Make sure you have a good weather app or two on your smartphone. Carry winter gear for everyone with you, never know when you might need it.
We normally made the trip in a 4 by Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Hwy 287, from Fort Worth to Amarillo is my current favorite summer road when we are headed from south Florida to western Colorado, which we do most summers. Up to I 40 at Okie City or to I 70 at Salina adds miles to using 287.
Most visitors that want to go after bottom fish, such as halibut, will use a guided charter boat. Few visitors will have their own boat to go out where the halibut hang out. Any of the sea coast towns such as Valdez, Homer, etc. will have available such operators.
For salmon check out the historic data of past runs such as www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com Few fisherman seem to use the guides for most species of salmon as they can be caught off the shore. Drift boats for kings are popular on the Kenai River, guides available in both Kenai and Soldotna areas. Some guided boats that fish salt water salmon off shore of Deep Creek and that area.
The best salmon fishing I have ever had was on the island of Kodiak, flew to Kodiak, then took a small plane to the village of Karluk and stayed most of a week. A local family ran a B&B operation that worked well.
Many of the rivers in the Dillingham area, the Illiamna Lake region offer fly out guide/lodging services out of Anchorage and out of the Kenai or out of Dillingham itself. Rust's Flying service on Lake Hood in Spenard are a reputable flying service, as are others there on the lake.
Most fishing gear suitable for large mouth bass, will work for most salmon. The halibut charters will furnish gear. For kings a bit heavier rod and line is needed. Any of the Alaska sporting goods stores will have knowledgeable clerks. I especially like the offerings at the Fred Meyer store in Soldotna, as well as the hardware store on the right side of the high way just before the Kenai bridge in Soldotna, south bound.
The Mat Su Valley will have some fun fishing as well, and places to camp. Some of the forum members like to fish in the Copper Valley area. Charters and camping there as well.
Get a copy of the Alaska fishing regulations and read them well. They are probably the most complicated regs of any state where I have ever fished. I also carry a small pocket GPS, Garmin, to help me locate the land marks mentioned. I have heard it said that every third fisherman you see on the streams is actually a Fish and Game officer and I wouldn't doubt it one bit.
They are really serious about enforcement of the regs.
Maybe someone can pull up some of the past conversations on the subject of fishing from the forum. A popular subject for sure.
There are many good books about fishing in Alaska (applies as well to Northern Canada) available at most book sellers, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, etc. I like Fishing the Alaska Hwy, Fishing the Kenai, Fishing Alaska,Alaska Fishing Guide, and there are others. I suspect I have close to a dozen different books on the subject.
Others, no doubt, received the same email today that I did. Each year the governments of Alaska, Alberta, BC and Yukon make available the new guide. You can either download it or they will mail it to you. Lots of good information in the material. You can also check a box at the bottom of the form to receive additional information.
I have a close friend that now lives out on the East End road in Homer, that rode his bicycle, twice from Eugene, Oregon to Kenai, Alaska. He was discharged from the army in Ft Sill, Okla and needed something to do, so bought a bicycle and headed south, making it as far as Guatamala, where he turned around and made it back to the U.S. on the ride south, he decided he wanted to attend graduate school in Eugene. Arrive in Eugene in the early spring, applied and was accepted to their graduate program. Only problem was he was broke. He heard one of the Kenai canneries was looking for fishermen to fish the company owned boats on the shares. The only way he could get to Kenai, was to ride his bike, which he did. He made enough money to fly back to Eugene and attend school that winter. The next summer was a repeat trip by bike from Eugene to Kenai, about a six week trip. Made enough money fishing commercially for salmon, to fly back to Eugene and finish grad school. He was able to get a job in Alaska over the phone , borrowed the money to fly back to Alaska, fished for the canery one last summer, in a company owned boat, made enough to buy his own boat. Now owns three fishing boats, several permits including Bristol Bay gill and set nets, which his three sons now fish on a share. LOL he never did get over being sea sick every time he went out to fish.
I am a bit the opposite of sue, in that I was born outside, in southern Oklahoma, grew up in the rural areas. Then as a 20 year old decided to drive to Alaska between my sophomore and junior years of college. Finally found something to motivate me, finished college and moved back to Nome in 1964. I thought it would be for a couple of years. 25+ years later, my wife and I (married in Anchorage in 1973) and our two daughters, born in Fairbanks, closest hospital to Nenana, where we were living decided to move to western Colorado. By this time I had lived in Alaska longer than I have lived, as an adult, anywhere. I had retired in Alaska at the age of 47. (that is on joe b.'s list of 10 dumbest things he has ever done) Moved to Ouray, Colorado, but dreamed of someday moving back to Alaska, but came to realize the visits every two or three years would have to suffice. We had gotten the RV bug in Alaska so it was easy to keep that method of travel going on our return trips to the north country.
Alaska is where I consider home, where some of the best things of my life happened to me, where I learned about myself, what I could handle, what I was made of, so to speak. The other day, my wife and I were talking, about some health problems I have developed, which I feel are under control. Her comment was that she never figured I would live long enough to develop health problems. LOL She was never comfortable with the way I flew my Super Cub, in bush Alaska, So she had her own airplane. I know most young guys go through a time, of thinking they are invincible, I just happened to be living in rural Alaska at the time, owned a Super Cub, river boat, snow machines, motorcycles and a dog team for winter travel. My love affair with the north country still continues to this day, not sure why.
The cruise ships and connecting bus tours enable folks to see parts of Alaska and many enjoy these trips. Alaska is so huge that it is impossible to see it all in ones lifetime, IMHO. It is said that if a person drives all the paved roads in Alaska, they will have seen approx 5% of the state. Add in all the gravel roads and the figure goes up to about 10% of the state seen. So it takes some boating and a lot of flying to see the rest of the state.
Many of our forum members seem to enjoy mixing their Alaska time, sometimes they cruise, sometimes fly and rent an RV, sometimes fly and motel it or drive their RV to Alaska to visit. However a person chooses to visit the north country, usually turns into the trip of their lifetime and then they start planning their next adventure north.
For planning I advise folks to decide why they want to go to Alaska and northern Canada. If photos of baby wildlife are important, then go early in the summer. If fishing is important, look up the historical data on when the salmon runs occur, I like to print out a calendar for the months I plan to be gone and start filling out where I want to be and when. If I plan to fish for pinks in PWS, Valdez area, then I know I need to be there a couple of weeks after the 4th of July. Often if I am in a fishing mood, I will fish the Reds on the Russian River on the Kenai, then head over to Valdez. So by the time I get everything I want to do plugged into the calendar, most of the trip is planned.
We tend to spend about 3 nights in Whitehorse both directions, will visit, on about a three trip schedule, Skagway, Atlin and Dawson Town, one of them each trip north.
I also pick a general theme for my photography each trip. By viewing the past photos on my computer, I can get an idea of what I am missing either by loss or a change in my interests. One trip it was old roadhouses, one year out houses, airports, campgrounds, etc.
plug in the dates of special events you want to attend, such as one of the state fairs, musical events, sports games,
Once done with the calendar, I start moving things around so we are not running back and forth across the state. We find out when friends we want to visit are going to be home to work those dates in. The plan always seems to get changed by the time we get there. On a two or three month trip, I know I am going to have to pay bills each month which I do electronically. So on the bill paying dates, I need good cell service or secure wifi. Most trips I use Whitehorse, Fairbanks, Valdez, Anchorage or Homer for bill paying. So far, have never had a problem.
There are/were two airstrips in Talkeetna, the nice paved one just across the railroad track from the in town private campground, and the dirt strip just about in town. One end of the dirt strip was just a block off of the main street. The last time I was in Talkeetna, five or six years back, the dirt strip was still being used some, mainly by tail draggers equipped with the large ballon type bush tires. Too expensive to skuff up on pavement. LOL
The only long term resident living on the Denali Hwy that I remember is Butch Gratis, owner/operator of the Gracious Lodge and flying service, etc. but I don't remember being in the fish guiding business. He does have a small campground a few miles from the lodge, east of it, where he allowed camping.
I met PA12s dad on several occasions in Alaska. 12s family owned a business in Anchorage, where 12 was born and raised. His father was very active in Alaska politics for most of the 25+ years I lived in the state.
With such a small state population, those of us that considered ourselves bush pilots, would see each other around the state from time to time. Pilots like Don Sheldon, Bob Rice, Tony Schultz, the Wien Brothers and many more. Advice from some of them about bush flying, is probably a main reason I am still alive today. LOL. at the time of Rice's death, from an infection due to surgery, he had logged 31,000 hours of fixed wing time and 12,000 hours of rotary wing time. Any of you fellow pilots will understand, that is one large amount of flying time,