I'm planning an adventure this summer (mid June to mid July) from Raleigh NC to Anchorage AK. I'm still at the early stage of planning, I have yet to plan preferred routes/stops etc but I have a vague idea where to go (I need to make one stop in Seattle for example)
Does anybody have any suggestion for me? What not to forget to bring along, city and town to cross, must see places along the route... any suggestion is appreciated! This will be my longest ride every planned.
Once the route is planned, I'll post it here. Anybody wants to join me is more than welcome, even a simple stop for a beer/coffee!
If you do not have a definate reason to go to Anchorage then don't. It is just another American small city with all the attendant issues, such as gangs, drugs and traffic.
There are three ways to get to Alaska. The ALCAN Hwy, the Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37) and then the ALCAN or a ferry. You can take a ferry from Bellingham, WA to either Skagway or Haines or you can get on the ferry at Prince Rupert. As mentioned earlier, you will see some fantastic scenery along the coast of SE Alaska and have a very brief opportunity to visit some of the coastal towns. It can be pricey and reservations are required unless you feel lucky. It will not save you time.
My recommendation is to combine your ride with a ride thru Banff/Jasper NPs along the Icefield Parkway. The Icefield parkway is a fantastic ride. It connects with the Cassier by way of the Yellowhead Hwy (Hwy 16) as well as connecting to Prince Rupert which is at the western end of the Yellowhead. If you ride the Cassiar, then be sure to divert into Hyder, AK. Turn west off of the Cassiar at Meziadin Junction on Hwy 37A and make the 41 mile ride in thru Stewart, BC to Hyder. We once saw 26 brown bears on this ride and you'll see a glacier and beautiful lakes. In Hyder you can eat fudge with Caroline at the Boundry Gift Shop, have a great meal at the bus, get hyderized, go to fish creek and watch the bears fish for salmon (if they are running) or ride up to Salmon Glacier. If you want to go on the ALCAN from the Icefield Parkway, then head north out of Jasper to Hinton, Grande Cache, Grande Prairie and then Dawson Creek where the ALCAN begins.
Things to consider.
Fuel: We have never carried fuel or run out of fuel. Spousal Unit has made all her trips on an F650GS thumper or and F650GS twin. In general you will not have go more than 50 miles between fuel stops. The longest stretch without fuel I can recall is 95 miles from Kitwanga at the southern end of the Cassiar to Meziadin Junction. Ride on the top half of your tank and understand that some places up north do not have card reader pumps, so if the joint is closed there is no fuel.
Take good bug spray as well as a head net. Nothing worse than try ing to fix a flat while in the midst of three bazillion mosquitos.
Know the rules on your cell phone. If you use data roaming in Canada without a prior agreement with your carrier, then it can run over $100 a day (this I know for sure). Most carriers have short-term plans you can get that make using the data functions on your phone reasonable.
Probably the best currency exchange rate you will get is in Canada. We always use Canadian ATMs and get a good rate. Just make sure your debit card is a member of the banking groups that allow use at other member banks.
With the advent of chipped credit cards this problem is less prevalent, but it can still happen. At a fuel stop you will get a "See Attendant" message on the pump. They will want to hold your card while you pump. I have always said no, but offered my driver's license instead, or an expired card. This has always worked.
Carry a good air pump (not CO2 cartridges) and a plugging kit. Make sure you know how to use them.
There are places on the Cassiar where you will be a very long way from a BMW dealership. Dease Lake, for example, is at least 1000 miles from the two shops in Alaska or Edmonton and Vancouver. A good recovery plan is a good idea. A plan that provides 100 miles of towing is not a plan. Look for something that will tow you to a facility that can fix the problem and is valid in Canada.
Health Insurance. Medical care is not free for you while in Canada. Had a friend who got a bad infection while riding from Fairbanks to Utah. It cost him $800 just to walk into a Canadian clinic, plus the cost for what ever treatment he received. He had to stop three times for IV antibiotics and had a bill of over $5,000. Make sure you are covered or look for a short-term plan.
Consider MedJet Assist. This plan will fly you from a hospital in Canada or Alaska to a hospital of your choice near your home. For an additional fee it will also fly your bike home. It does not cover you from the accident site to the hospital.
Places to eat: Plenty of roadside burger joints along the way. The Wolf-It-Down Inn at Nugget City (12 miles north of Watson Lake) has unusually good food and a varied menu; The Bus in Hyder; The Village Bakery and Deli in Haines Junction is fantastic, one block off the ALCAN behind the Raven Motel; Fast Eddie's in Tok, AK has good food and a decent salad bar; Buckshot Betty's in Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory is pretty good; in Dawson City the Drunken Goat has some of the best Greek food I've ever eaten, also the Cheechako Bakery is good; the lodge in Muncho Lake is very good and expensive; decent burger in Toad River; nothing stands out in Whitehorse except the brewery (no food); and, about 100 miles south of Dawson City there is a bakery in a log cabin that is quite good.
We tend to start early and stop early on the road to/from Alaska. You avoid the RV traffic somewhat and have a better shot at motels. We camp some, but not real often. One good camping place is Liard Hotsprings. Well maintained camping spots and a great out door, natural hot spring. Also decent camping at Nugget city as well as cabins. In Haines Junction ask at the bakery about the cabins at the Paddlewheel. The Hi Country RV Park just south of Whitehorse is excellent camping.
We have never made motel reservations and never not found a bed. Always hard to find a bed in Fort Nelson and Whitehorse.
Do not attempt to take a handgun into Canada. Bear spray is okay.
Radar detectors are legal in Alberta and British Columbia; illegal in other Provinces and Territories.
Youíll need a Passport or Passport card.
The speed limit on the roads to AK are generally 100 KPH (62 MPH). In BC they will impound your bike if you are going 30-40 KPH over the limit (I cannot remember the exact figure). Their country, their rules.... be a good guest.
Have a great ride.