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Thread: My Route to AK...

  1. #1
    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    Default My Route to AK...

    Its been a while since I have posted as things have been crazy the past couple of months. After all my posts and questions about moving to AK and all my families praying and working hard to get to our goal, it looks like our move is finally going to happen. I really cant beleive I just got to type those words! I haven't secured a job there yet but after reading all the posts and learning from my own job search experience so far over the past 5+ months, I beleive whole-heartedly, that for most people, you need to be on the ground there in AK to be taken seriously by most companies. With that in mind, things are finally lining up here at home and if they continue the way they are going, we will be looking to hit the road on July 23 and hope to arrive in Soldotna, AK on August 11th.

    I'll be driving my 2008 F250 Super Duty Crew Cab (6.4L Diesel) and pulling a Dutchman 35SRV-H5 5th Wheel Toy Hauler. It's 39.5' long with double axles. Unloaded weight is around 11k and fully loaded is 15.5k. I will not be hauling toys in it but will be hauling some of our belongings in the back. Nothing huge though as we are selling all of our furniture and such before leaving. Clothes, electronics and and a few odds and ends will be the biggest part of our load.

    As for our route, below is a list of the different towns we will pass through. I'm still working on our specific stops we'll make along the way but the two main things I care about seeing in the US at this point are the "Gateway to the West" and Yellowstone Park (well probably stay a couple of days in Yellow Stone). Would like to see Rushmore and the Rocky's too but we'll see if time permits. I have budgeted just under 3 weeks for our trip.The estimated miles and hours below are from one location to the next. We will start from home and travel west:

    - Leaving Knoxville, TN
    - Nashville, TN - 192 Miles / 3.25 hours
    - Paducah, KY - 137 Miles / 2.50 hours
    - Mt. Vernon, IL - 97 Miles / 2.00 hours
    - St. Louise, MO - 82 miles / 2.00 hours
    - Columbia, MO - 123 Miles / 2.25 hours
    - Kansas City, MO - 125 Miles / 2.25 hours
    - Oakley, KS - 352 Miles / 5.50 hours
    - Denver, CO - 254 Miles / 4.25 hours
    - Cheyenne, WY - 103 Miles / 1.75 hours
    - Casper, WY - 178 Miles / 2.75 hours
    - ShoShoni, WY - 99 Miles / 1.75 hours
    - Duboise, WY - 95 Miles / 1.75 hours
    - West Yellowstone, MT - 152 Miles / 3.75 hours
    - Big Sky, MT - 55 Miles / 1.25 Hours
    - Butte, MT - 123 Miles / 2.50 Hours
    - Great Falls, MT - 155 Miles / 2.50 hours
    - We'll cross the border at Sweetgrass, MT.
    - Letherridge, AB - 186 Miles / 3.25 hours
    - Calgary, AB - 137 Miles / 2.75 hours
    - Edmonton, AB - 185 Miles / 3.35 hours
    - Valleyview, AB - 216 Miles / 4.00 hours
    - Dawson Creek, BC - 150 Miles / 3.00 hours
    - Ft. Nelson, BC - 282 Miles / 6.50 hours
    - Watson Lake, YT - 318 Miles / 7.50 hours
    - Whitehorse, YT - 272 Miles / 6.25 hours
    - Haines Junction, YT - 95 Miles / 2.25 hours
    - Tok, AK - 291 Miles / 6.50 hours
    - Glennallen, AK - 139 Miles / 2.50 hours
    - Palmer, AK - 137 Miles / 2.50 hours
    - Anchorage, AK - 42 Miles / 1.00 hours
    - Soldotna, AK - 147 Miles / 2.75 hours Final Destination

    With all the info above, I have a ton of questions but will try to keep them to a minimum for now. I would love everyone's feedback and/or advice for making this a successful trip up.

    -What are your thoughts on the route... good choices, bad choices? What would you change? Also any and all suggestions for "must see" places or things along our way would be greatly appreciated.

    - I have secured passports for my family. The 5th Wheel is a friend of ours who wants me to pull it to AK for him. According to customs, we will need a notarized letter from the owner, granting us permission to take the camper across the border and then back in to AK. This will not be an issue. Outside of these items, what else will we need to make it across the border successfully?

    - Truck and Camper Survival... What all would you suggest we have with us to avoid serious situations? A full-sized, inflated spare tire for both truck and camper, an extra 5 gallon of gas, etc? I'm guessing Triple A doesn't work in Canada.

    - What other advice do you have for me?

    Thanks in advance for your responses to this post and for all your responses to my posts over the past several months! They have all been very helpful and I appreciate each one!
    G3 Guy
    "...with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    Without going to Minnesota you won't see the worlds largest ball of string. And if you carry 5 gal of gas what good is that driving a diesel?
    Just kidding around. Your trip plan looks good to me. Kansas has a lot of toll roads. Not sure about the ones you have picked. Id go north more and see Mt. Rushmore if you haven't. The Black hills are nice. If you do that you should see Devils tower. Yellow stone If it where me Id skip, only because the time your talking, that place gets nuts with people.
    A year ago my brother took his family there and they drove around for 3 hrs just trying to park the car to see old faithful. Never did find a spot to even park. As for seeing the rockys you will and they are better in Canada as you go north. I love Jasper and Banff, a bit out of your way but very pretty area. Other than that I like sweetgrass crossing and the route you have mapped its all good. Stop in every one of those spots in Canada and fill up with (Diesel) and you shouldn't need to carry more. If you do 5 isn't going to get you far. Sounds like the start of a great new adventure in life. Good for you and hope it's every thing you dream! Good luck!!

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    I'd cover your diesel's aftercooler with a bug screen to make the bug mess easier to clean when you get to your new home, carry an extra serpentine belt and a fuel filter w/tools in case you run into some dirty fuel. Start out with a fresh oil change. It's going to be hot all the way to Calgary,so make sure your cooling system is in perfect condition. Same with your tires.

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    G3 GUY

    I drive big truck for a living. I like your route it's exactly how I would route it. Remember your times listed are only approximate and that you'll be traveling slower in hilly and mountain areas.

    If you have a droid phone or lap top while your traveling check out http://www.gasbuddy.com/ for the best gas pricing while your rolling .

    Triple A in Canada is CAA. Call or get on line to see if your AAA is covered by CAA.

    keep an eye on your tire pressures on hot days. Good luck on your trip.

    Akkevin
    Are we talking about goals or are we talking about dreams? AkKevin The one and only

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Why wouldn't AAA work in Canada?

    I have seen countless southerners get stranded in the Yukon Territory for very dumb reasons, but it sounds like you're really researching routes and distances and that will serve you well. Don't expect Yukon gas stations to be open 24 hours, or to be able to buy food anywhere. I've driven the Alcan all four seasons and depending on the season, I carry about 20 extra gallons of fuel, food, water, a functional spare tire and jack. You won't have cell reception for large chunks of distance but people are generally friendly and will stop to help.

  6. #6
    armedalaskan
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    Re-look at your directions, you can cut out a lot of back tracting (travel) since Haines is back tracking from White horse, and you'll need to go across beaver creek crossing and then northway, alaska to get to TOK,,,also take a look at nelson and watson lake while your at, which brings to mind someone just tossing names onto the list without looking at a map.,,,,but hey its your gas and you time,,,,what a nice trip to sight see while your saving money on a long trip like that, good luck

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    Get your CC company to issue you a travel card with a separate number. One that you can use for Gas once you get into Canada, particularly in northern BC and the Yukon. I had no problems several years ago but my Dad just made the trip from AK this summer. Nearly every gas station required him to physically leave his CC with the attendant while he pumped or they wouldn't sell him gas. By the time he was half way through Yukon his CC was being used all over the place for big ticket purchases and had to be shut down. Hard to get a new one fed ex'd while traveling. So have the company issue you another card or have three different ones and be willing to shut one or two down while traveling in northern Canada.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by armedalaskan View Post
    Re-look at your directions, you can cut out a lot of back tracting (travel) since Haines is back tracking from White horse,
    Yes Haines would be going the wrong way, however, he is going through Haines Junction. He has no choice but to drive through Haines Junction until they build a second highway using another route. Also armedalaskan, nobody drives through Northway on the trip since it is at the end of a side road well off the highway. If you have to drive through Northway to get to Tok you are talking about crossing some serious swamp where there are no roads. I would stick to the highway myself.

    G3 Guy, for the coolest views of the rockies head a little more west from Calgary and check out Banff-Jasper park. You will spend some more time getting over the hills and some more on fuel, but you will be driving right through the heart of the Candian Rockies.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Just a few thoughts:

    Don't overload the trailer with personal belongings, it's easy to do!

    Get a good digital camera with spare battery and memory card and take lots of pictures. When we moved up I was trying to rush and we didn't take very many pictures, something I regret.

    You definately want at least 1 spare tire for the tow vehicle and trailer, and having 2 spares for each isn't a bad idea.

    Don't rush it, take breaks to stretch your legs and take pictures.

    I find 50mph is a good number to use when figuring out how much ground you can cover on the Alcan. There will be road construction, there will be sections of gravel.

    I'd say the key to success is a good attitude and patience. The road is generally in top shape and a vehicle in decent shape should have no problem making it. That said, things can happen. You're pulling a heavy load, and wildlife can pop onto the road in lots of sections. So don't let yourself get too tired so you'll be alert.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    Yes Haines would be going the wrong way, however, he is going through Haines Junction. He has no choice but to drive through Haines Junction until they build a second highway using another route. Also armedalaskan, nobody drives through Northway on the trip since it is at the end of a side road well off the highway. If you have to drive through Northway to get to Tok you are talking about crossing some serious swamp where there are no roads. I would stick to the highway myself.

    G3 Guy, for the coolest views of the rockies head a little more west from Calgary and check out Banff-Jasper park. You will spend some more time getting over the hills and some more on fuel, but you will be driving right through the heart of the Candian Rockies.
    This is not a bad suggestion; also be sure to stop and check out Liard Hot Springs, they are about 200 miles west of Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway, right after the Liard River bridge.

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    Guy,

    Your route is great....an alternative would be to cross the border North of Minot but that area is flooded at this time and your orute minimizes Canadian fuel prices.

    From the border to Dawson Creek, you will have a high percentage of four lane divided highways.

    As previously stated, keep an eye on that trailer GVW....don't overload. Two full spares for the trailer would be great and I would be tempted to have a set of trailer bearings.

    God luck!

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    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback folks... it is really appreciated! Glad to know my research and planning wasn't in vain. I've been reading your responses and talking with some other friends who have made the trip before and I think I will head north at Kansas City and travel to South Dakota. From SD, I will continue west over through WY and then up to MT before crossing the border at Sweatgrass.

    I have also decided we will bypass Edmonton and go through Banff and Jasper as others have suggested. I've seen pictures of this area and they are amazing. My question is, once I get to Jasper should I:

    -Go west to Prince George and up through McLeod Lake to Dawson Creek

    OR

    - Go east to Grande Cache and up through Grande Prairie to Dawson Creek?


    Of these two choices, which drive would you suggest and why?

    As for your other suggestions...

    @coaldust - I will look into the bug guard. I'm assuming you are referring to a small piece of wire in front of the radiator... correct? What's the best way to do this that you have found?

    @AKKevin - I have an iphone and was able to find the GasBuddy app you mentioned. Thanks for the tip! I will also make sure that CAA and AAA play nice together while in CA.

    @Paul H - We are trying to take precaution when planning what to take with us to ensure the load is as light as possible. I plan to take the whole rig to the local weigh station before we head out, just to make sure everything is good. In regards to the camera, my wife is a professional photographer and I'm an amateur, I have more Cameras, Memory Cards and Rechargeable Batteries than I know what to do with. We both look forward to the great scenery and views and being able to capture them along the way. I know you are correct, Attitude & Patience will be the key... it usually is for any successful road trip or just about anything else in life as well.

    Thanks Again guys! Let me know what you think.
    G3 Guy
    "...with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

  13. #13
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    The Prince George to Chetwynd part of the drive should be named "black bear highway". Other than that I don't recall much about driving through there. With your load I would avoid the bypass to Hudson's Hope. The hill and switchbacks up out of Chetwynd are brutal, but I did see larger 5th wheel rigs up there at the dam doing the tourist thing. Several black bears there as well.

    After Jasper I would head to Grand Prairie (having never been on that route before). You will still have Muncho Lake and the far northern Rockies to check out so save some gigabites for that.

    The one thing you don't have to look forward to is the hill at Trutch. They bypassed it back in the 1980's. Makes me wonder that happened to the automobile grave yard at the top?

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    The NAPA part # for the bug screen material is 730-4097. It's like a window screen that you just tie on with string or fine wire. VernAK had a great suggestion regarding extra trailer axle bearings. When I'm pulling my trailer, I carry a extra hub and bearing assembly which is greased and ready to install, which makes for a fast roadside repair. If not for yourself, it can be handy for helping a fellow traveller out. I suppose, since we are on the subject, it would be a good idea to service the axles before your trip so you don't have any problems to begin with. And, it's always a good idea to make sure you have a jack that will lift your trailer in the event of a tire change.

    Sounds like you are giving this much thought.

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    Thanks Coaldust.....I too carry a complete extra hub ready to install......I also feel hubs at every stop to see if heat is building.

    I've lost trailer wheel bearings in construction zones where gravel is winrowed and as you cut through the berm, the inboard seals catch hell.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Jasper to Grande Prairie via Grande Cache will be more direct than heading all the way over to Prince George, and the scenery is not that much different. You'll have seen the best scenery before you get to Jasper. I used to live in Calgary & I've been down those highways so many times!

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    Default Beware of customs and follow every law to the letter

    Quote Originally Posted by G3_Guy View Post
    - What other advice do you have for me?
    Be prepared to answer quickly and truthfully to the customs people when you enter Canada. If bringing pets, they need paperwork from your vet.

    A half dozen years ago I drove from L48 to AK and though I've passed through literally hundreds of customs crossings of various countries before, the guy in the shack "got" me.

    I'm driving a heavily laden pickup truck with lots of blue tarp and tie down, and he looks me square in the eye and says: "So.... why did you choose this small border crossing to come into Canada instead of that really major border crossing just a few miles that way, eh?"

    Surely at that point I looked guilty of something I was not (since I was breaking no laws), but I had no reasonable answer for him. Hell, I didn't know. After a few awkward seconds I landed on the truth and handed the papers to him; a printed set of directions from mapquest.com showing I should be exactly where I was.

    In retrospect its funny. At the time it was very uncomfortable. On a whim, they could have had me unload every last thing out of the back of my truck and that would eat up a good part of the day.

  18. #18
    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    Default Thanks!

    Thanks to each of you for all the feedback and suggestions you have provided! Given those suggestions and some of my own additional research, I have tweaked my route to avoid Kansas and to travel more through the Canadian Rockies once we cross the border. Below is my revised route. Take a look and let me know what you think.

    - Leaving Knoxville, TN
    - Nashville, TN
    - Paducah, KY
    - Mt. Vernon, IL
    - St. Louis, MO
    - Columbia, MO
    - Kansas City, MO
    - Omaha, NE
    - Sioux Falls, SD
    - Rapid City, SD
    - Billings, MT
    - Butte, MT
    - Great Falls, MT
    - We'll cross the border at Sweetgrass, MT
    - Leatherbridge, AB
    - Calgary, AB
    - Banff, AB
    - Jasper, AB
    - Grande Cache, AB
    - Grande Prairie, AB
    - Dawson Creek, BC
    - Pink Mountain, BC
    - Watson Lake, BC
    - Whitehorse, YT
    - Haines Junction, YT
    - Tok, AK
    - Glennallen, AK
    - Palmer, AK
    - Anchorage, AK
    - Soldotna, AK - Final Destination

    Our anticipated departure date is 07/20 and our anticipated arrival date is 08/10. The total estimated mileage for the trip in around 4600. If I can average 220 mile per day, I should be able to make it in approximately 21 days. I will obviously travel more miles on some days and less on others but that gives me a good idea of what I need to be doing and where I should be at a given point in our journey each day.
    G3 Guy
    "...with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Don't be suprised if at the border passing they ask your kids if you are really their parents.

    I was suprised when we moved up, though 14 years ago, they didn't make me open the gun safe, I don't think they even looked in the trailer. But our friend was driving our other car and a small trailer, and they made us open up that trailer and we had to start pulling stuff out until they were happy that we didn't have anything amiss.

    We did have a can of pepper spray, and it's not allowed, so I had to walk back to the US side of the crossing and I left it there.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

  20. #20

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    I would plan on the part from haines junction to beaver creek to take a little longer. There are some stretches that you will be down to 20 mph or so, if you want anything left of your trailer. Across northern canada and alaska slow down when you see any red flags or markers on the side of the road.

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