March/23/201605:00 Filed in: RV Life
In general, I think I am pretty good at trip planning. Mary and I have also become quite adapt at winging it with a thirty-nine foot fifth-wheel and a monster truck. Our comfort with both of these things and a desire to visit Alaska led to our decision to make Alaska our next destination.
Our initial thought was "no big deal" we have driven across the lower forty-eight many times, we can handle a long drive. Mary immediately started looking for things we might want to see/do in Alaska. I started looking at the logistics of making the trip. Mary was ecstatic with her findings. I was overwhelmed with mine. We are looking at a 3000+ mile drive (each way) with the majority of it on two lane roads through very remote areas. We won't be winging this one - major planning is necessary to make this an enjoyable adventure.
Mary continued her search for things to explore in Alaska and I started looking at routes and reading info from others who have made the trip. I found a lot of conflicting info about the road conditions (paved, gravel, frost-heaves, etc.), the availability of diesel fuel, the weather encountered along the way, and the availability of places to park the RV. One of my first realizations was that we would not be starting the trip April 1 as we had thought - many services along the way are not open until May (some don't open until the end of May). One thing that kept showing up on my internet search was the need to purchase a book called The Milepost that is published each spring and identifies all the fuel stops, lodging options and RV parks along the Alaskan Highway and the access routes to it.
With The Milepost and BaseCamp (a Garmin mapping program), We started looking at the different routes. We have decided to visit Yellowstone National Park for a few days, then head north to Calgary and Edmonton where we will spend a few more days before heading northwest to the beginning of the Alaska Highway. Our destination is Anchorage, Alaska. We plan to leave Boise, ID on April 17. Mary starts work at the Anchorage REI on May 12. On the map, you can see where i have located RV parks that are open in April (RV icons), diesel fuel (gas pump icons) and Walmarts (shopping bags). I identify Walmarts because they allow RVs to spend the night in their parking lot - this is never our first choice, but it sure comes in handy when there is no rv park nearby. The route from Great Falls, MT to Dawson Creek, BC is the East Access Route. From Dawson Creek, BC to Tok, AK is the Alaska Highway and from Tok, AK to Anchorage, AK is Glenn Highway-Tok Cutoff. We feel pretty confident about our ability to find fuel and places to stay along the route. Now we are focusing on what we want to see/do along the way. The internet is very helpful in this pursuit.