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,
skrams, my buddy is a citizen of both countries, so he can use the passport of either country to travel the world. A good friend, a young guy from Colorado, has both US citizenship and Australian citizenship. When outside the US he travels on his Australian passport as he feels it is much safer in many parts of the world. When he returns to the US, he uses his US Passport. One of our forum member's husband has dual citizenship, Canadian and US, so he can use the one of his choice also.
At one time the US wouldn't allow our citizens to have dual citizenship but the laws were changed on it many years back.
Having a good sense of humor is not a job requirement of the border officials, on either side. They are all federal government law enforcement officers. Over the 52 years I have been driving back and forth to/from Alaska, to give my stereotype of the treatment received, in that most times I am treated more cordially by the Canadian officers. Many of my Canadian friends say they get treated best by the U.S. officers. One of my Mexican buddies who is a dually, Mexican and Canadian, when he and his wife enter the U.S., they use their Canadian passports, when entering Canada, they use their Mexican passports. He claims to get much better treatment with that method.
I much prefer, to get a senior agent at the border, as they know the rules and are comfortable in their jobs. Sometimes the beginning agents, on both sides, are trying to hard not to mess up in front of one of their supervisors. Over the years I worked in law enforcement in Colorado, at times working with federal LEOs, from other agencies, such as ATF, DEA, FBI, etc, they all had, an on the job demeanor much the same as the border officers. Off the job, most resorted back to being almost normal people.
Life is good today, as I just received a shipment of Tim Hortons, original blend coffee, K cups, and now crave a bagel from there. ?? now all I need is some Canadian scenery to admire out my RV window. Amazon now sells Timmy's coffee.
Great photos. When we lived in Ouray, we would get over into that part of Utah on occasions. The Reef really isn't on the way to anywhere, it seems. There is also a nice private campground, with full hookups just west of the town of Torrey, which we enjoy. Leaving the area, taking Hwy 12 south toward Kanab is a great scenic drive as well.
Spend some time on the Icefields Parkway, which runs from Banff north to Jasper NP, with Yoho NP in the middle, slightly to the west. Over the years Yoho has become our favorite of the three national parks, operated by Parks Canada. It is more laid back and less crowded, IMHO.
The town of Radium Hot Springs is well worth a few days camping. There are both private and government campgrounds in the immediate area. The govt one on the hill overlooking town has full hookups. A part of Kootenay NP I believe.
As you are no doubt aware there are two parks in the area with basically the same names, the Waterton Glacier NP which is a shared park of the US and Canada and the Canadian Glacier NP located west of Lake Louise. That entire area of Alberta and BC could be made into a park, as the scenery is just outstanding. I believe much of the area is Crown Land so not sure how they decided where to draw the park boundaries. A week in the area is nice, two or three weeks would be outstanding.
Everyone that is planning a trip to Alaska, needs to ask themselves, why they want to go. Is it for fishing, hiking, the rivers and lakes, the mountains, photography or a bit of all these. Some summers in the north country are warm and dry, others are wet and cloudy most of the time. Have a fall back position and don't lock yourself into a particular thing to do at a set time. If it is hot and smoky in the Interior, then head south to Valdez or the Kenai, and visa versa. If photography is your reason, and you find it rainy and cloudy most of the summer, do something else and plan to come back. There is so much to do and see in Alaska. You can divide the state into at least five or six different sections that are different from the others. Plan your trip but stay flexible if the need arises to do so. Some people go to Alaska and don't enjoy the trip, to me because they had no real reason to go, other than they had never been before. It is a long trip and a bit expensive. If fishing is your main concern, then find out when the salmon runs occur in the state, when is the bottom fishing the best out of Homer or Prince William Sound area (Valdez) and plan to be in those locations at the proper times based upon historical data. I plan to be in certain places at bill paying time each month as I used electronic ebill paying. So I want a place with good WiFi or good AT&T cell service so I can run my computer on my hot spot.
I recommend people not put off going to the north country, because this isn't the perfect time for them to go. Sometimes we have to put off trips due to work, health, finances, etc. but I have known people that put off doing something and then one of them dies. Of course they never know, but the surviving spouse does. consider flying up and RVing for a couple of weeks if time is tight, take a cruise ship tour, drive up or whatever works for you and your traveling companions. It is the trip of a lifetime that can be repeated over and over, if the traveler desires.
I just last week had to do a fix, for the same problem with the Thetford Style II toilet in our fifth wheel. There are at least half a dozen different water valves used in the different models. We were in Orlando, connected to the campground water when my wife yelled that the toilet was over flowing. I tried everything but nothing worked. Last trip out, it had worked fine. Camping world had the needed parts, Amazon also carries the parts, si I removed the toilet from the floor, two nuts and disconnect the fresh water connection. It was much easier to work on setting on my pickup tailgate. Parts cost was less than $20 plus fuel to go buy them.
I plan to install an off-on valve in the water supply line to the toilet, so if it happens again, we can still have water in the shower and kitchen.
I like both the Milepost and the Church's guide, Alaskan Camping, both available at many/most book sellers. Tim Bell puts out many fine guides covering northern Canada and Alaska. Visitor centers will have many of his guides for free. Also available online.
Tim Bell is a Canadian that grew up at the Alaska Hwy roadhouse, owned and operated by his parents.
Time and costs tend to be question most cheechocos ask. Both are very personal, if you are young or middle aged, you may well become addicted to northern travel, as many of us on this forum tend to be. If you are of a geezer age, that is anyone older than me (72), then you may only be able to make the one trip. So you may want to stay as long as possible. For those with time constraints, plan out your first trip must see places, and start planning for additional trips.
Alaska and northern Canada are so huge, it is impossible, IMHO, to see everything. I have made close to 20 round trips by road vehicles and a half dozen more by small aircraft, following the Alaska Hwy north. Plus having lived in rural Alaska for 25+ years where I did my best to wear our 5 different aircraft and a half dozen RVs. I doubt I ever saw more than 2/3 of the state and much I did see was from several thousand ft in the air. I have often said I would fly to Alaska for a weekend, if I could afford to do so, which I can't. A person has to use whatever time they have for their trip.
It has been a long time since I pulled a 5th wheel over the Alaska Hwy. the last 4 round trips have been in our truck camper. Last trip in 2011. We normally will average between 12,000 and 15,000 miles, depending on our route. So I will use about 1,100 gallons of diesel on the trip. We will normally spend about half our time boon docking (free) and the other half in private or government type campgrounds.
To budget my costs, I add up the major items, fuel, camping, entertainment , etc and I can have a great trip of about 100 nights for about $10,000. We eat out very seldom, don't often go to the paid tourist type entertainment events, etc. there are some costs I can control to some degree, such as camping costs and others are somewhat fixed, such as fuel.
It is much easier to find good boon docking spots in northern Canada and Alaska than in the lower 48. So we don't tend to stop a great deal, prior to the Canadian border. I go to Alaska to spend my time there, not setting in campgrounds along the way. How many days of travel to get there is a very personal matter. Some of our forum members, due to age, health or lack of, enjoyment of driving, etc, take take 3 or 4 times as long to get to Alaska than I tend to do. But after 13 round trips by RV, to/from Alaska, we know where we want to spend our time.
Best plan would be to call your supplemental insurance company and ask them. Medicare gets a bit complicated in a hurry. Most/all claims of a US citizen with Medicare, require that the person receiving the services in Canada, pay the bill and then submit it for reimbursement to Medicare. There is language in Medicare that speaks to being in a "straight line" route between the Lower 48 and Alaska or visa versa. Now what this means to Medicare, appears to be subject to interpretation on their part. It also doesn't mean they will pay the doctor or the hospital, ambulance, etc. You will have to pay the bill up front and submit it to Medicare for them to consider reimbursing you up to the approved rate.
My Medicare supplemental policy only starts coverage after Medicare has paid their approved amount. I have yet to find out if this means that if Medicare turns down my claim of services received in Canada, then my supplemental doesn't pay either? Don't know the answer to that question and have not found anyone at my supplemental insurance company that knows the answer either.
Most folks, US Citizens, with any concerns about medical coverage in Canada will purchase travel insurance to cover them for that time period they are in Canada. You can google those companies that sell it. Some of the travel insurance policies will cover air evac out of Canada to get you back to a Medicare covered facility in the US. Some don't seem to cover this service.
The couple of times I needed medical care in Canada, I just paid the bill at the doctor's office and the pharmacy for the meds. It was a small enough amount, a couple of hundred at most, that I don't remember if my insurance reimbursed me or not. This was back before I was a geezer and old enough for Medicare. LOL
About 100 miles is the longest distance between fueling stations. Just drive on the upper half of your tank and you should be fine. Check the sticky on Alaska Hwy fuel stops for most locations along the highway. (S) it is on the first page of this thread and is current to the latest reported by forum members.
I just pulled our toilet, a Thetford Style II in our 5th wheel, because of a defective water valve. Camping world in Orlando had the parts I needed, including the rubber seal. Turned out to be a much easier repair than I had planned on having to do. Took about an hour plus the time to run to the store for the parts. We were camping in Orlando at the time.
The ceramic bowl was held to the plastic base by two bolts, after the locking tabs were turned about 1/8 of a turn.
Gary, on the Alaska ferry system I have seen the freezer-fridge vans plugged into the ship's power system. I would guess they have to pay extra for the electricity. Don't have a clue how well insulated the truck trailers are and how long they would stay cold or frozen without power. While living in Alaska I bought a 52 ft freezer van, but kept it plugged in all the time, so no idea how long food would have stayed frozen unplugged.