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Utah to Prudhoe Bay Trip Advice

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by Gunshot-6A, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Aug 3, 2018 at 12:05 PM
    #21
    Gunshot-6A

    Gunshot-6A [OP] Not a Fed

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    Ha. That's exactly what I am doing. I knew my tacoma wingman would come no questions asked, now its selling a seat in my truck. A lot of willing maybes, but one just took a new job, one will be facing a PCS, the list goes on. How come life gets in the way when the fun stuff comes out to play?
     
  2. Aug 4, 2018 at 8:26 PM
    #22
    AKHawkeye

    AKHawkeye Well-Known Member

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    I haven't traveled the Alcan in close to 10 years, but I have extensive experience on the Dalton Hwy. There's only two places to get fuel along the Dalton, the Yukon river crossing, and at Coldfoot which is approximately half way to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay. Lodging is also available at the fuel stops, however I highly encourage you to camp at either Marion Camp ground, located 8 miles north of Coldfoot, just on the south side of Atigun Pass. There's also a camp site at Galbraith lake on the north side of the pass. I encourage you to try and stay at both, and the terrain drastically changes after Atigun. Rooms are usually expensive and quite honestly not worth it. Coldfoot has a bar, and a pretty decent beer selection considering. Fran and her husband Mud both stay year round. She runs the place, while he works on the maintenance. Mud will also mount/balance tires as well as perform tire repairs.

    I would suggest you try to time it so you hit the Dalton in late July/early August. The main reason is that by this time the state DOT guys have completed their summer maintenance and the road will actually be in better shape than 80% of our paved roads. If you come up later in August/September you'll have to deal with rain and hunters looking for Caribou/Moose.

    Once you hit Deadhorse/Prudhoe bay there's really not much to see. I recommend you stay at either the Aurora, or the Brooks Range camp. The Prudhoe Bay hotel is a dump. There's always the Brooks Range Supply above the NAPA store, that's where you'll find the common sign people get their pictures at. I'm sure you're aware, but in order to see the Arctic Ocean you'll have to get on a shuttle to pass through BP's leased land. To be honest, I would just do a turn and burn if you're not interested in getting on a shuttle. Leave Marion camp ground early morning, drive to Deadhorse (~6 hours). Hit up the Brooks Range supply to get your sticker/pictures, and grab fuel at the Colville/Tesoro. Then head south and stay at Galbraith (~4-4.5 hours) on your way home.
     
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  3. Aug 5, 2018 at 11:55 PM
    #23
    crazysccrmd

    crazysccrmd Well-Known Member

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    I’d skip the Dalton and go up the Dempster to Tuktoyaktuk and actually get to drive to the Arctic Ocean. The Dalton is just another road, dirt and gravel in some places, paved for about half the distance. Deadhorse is a working town and looks it, not much reason to go there other than to say you did and now that Tuk is an option I can’t even see that really.
     
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  4. Aug 6, 2018 at 12:23 AM
    #24
    VE7OSR

    VE7OSR Well-Known Member

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    Canuck here, I can give you some route options you'll like for the route through Canada - will write up another post.

    Yes, bugs will be bad, especially further north. The icefields parkway will be busy in the summer months, take your time, enjoy the view.
    North of Prince George, you will see moose, hopefully not at the last second in front of you, duck down in the cab if you are going to hit one, because its coming through your windshield, and will total your vehicle. If you are not bringing any long guns, then likewise make sure there is no ammo in your vehicles, otherwise Canada Customs will want to go through all your stuff, looking for the guns the ammo belongs to.

    Bears - be aware, do not pack the food in the same place as you sleep - ie lock food up in the cab, if you're sleeping in the back, don't cook beside the truck. Bear Spray at the ready, doubt you'll ever need it. Usually making a bunch of noise is enough.

    If you do go to Deadhorse, and are staying overnight, do make a reservation ahead of time, at any of the places listed already. Get a place where they serve food; there are no restaurants. You won't be able to go out on any of the Industrial roads northward of Deadhorse because they are monitored and guarded at their entry points, and the public is not welcome. Its 7 hrs drive approximately north of Coldfoot (before the pass) to Deadhorse as I recall, though I was there in the winter. Camping along route as mentioned above is going to be your less expensive, and enjoyable option. as noted above going a different route all the way to the Arctic ocean will probably be more worthwhile than the Deadhorse destination, but you did say you wanted to drive over the Atigun pass, so then Deadhorse is the end of the road there for you. Lots of wild life, and generally wild places to see - Its a desert climate yet you are travelling over a frozen wetland, where the top 2' thaw out every summer.
     
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  5. Aug 6, 2018 at 12:36 AM
    #25
    akkyle

    akkyle Well-Known Member

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    I’d bring more than 1 gas can on the Dalton. The road isn’t treacherous by any means, more of a gravel road with some once paved roads. But being that there are only 2 gas station, with highly inflated gas prices because they have you by the balls (and I’m sure transportation cost), I’d bring at least 2 cans. 4 would be extreme. I brought 3, 5 gallon cans when I went and that basically allowed me to skip filling up at dead horse and get re-filled up at Coldfoot. There is a nice federal campground at cold foot. As others have said Deadhorse is well, like a dead horse, nothing but an industrial work camp. If anything the drive to Atigun Pass is beautiful. Also dont underestimate the size of Alaska, from Fairbanks to Deadhorse is a 14 hour, rushing it is no fun (drove back Deadhorse to anchorage in less than 24 hours. Not fun.). If you have time the Denali highway is a fairly scenic road as well with tons of camping areas. The Richardson highway is also my personal favorite for scenic driving as well. I’d take Fairbanks to parks highway to Denali highway then Richardson hwy to anchorage if you want the most scenery on your way back from the dalton.

    2 spares between the 2 vehicles is probably fine but I would invest in a cheap trolly style jack or a bottle jack that has a higher travel than the factory jack.


    My 2 cents
     
  6. Aug 6, 2018 at 12:46 AM
    #26
    akkyle

    akkyle Well-Known Member

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    Oh and if you have the time I would say kennecott mine is a awesome drive and place to checkout.
     
  7. Aug 6, 2018 at 1:27 AM
    #27
    VE7OSR

    VE7OSR Well-Known Member

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    bringing your dog into Canada won't be a problem. Bring vet record of shots in case, but you should be fine.
     
  8. Aug 6, 2018 at 1:29 AM
    #28
    AKHawkeye

    AKHawkeye Well-Known Member

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    My Ol' Man is a dog doc here in Anchorage. He'll need a health certificate from his local vet. Pretty sure it'll be an international one, vs a domestic. But he'll just have to check with his vet first, I don't particularly remember.
     
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  9. Aug 6, 2018 at 9:06 AM
    #29
    Gunshot-6A

    Gunshot-6A [OP] Not a Fed

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    Thanks for the camp recommendations / advice. We will be hitting the Dalton in June based on my partner having a family reunion in July (I wanted to go in July based on road conditions but oh well.) I was aware of the shuttle. A few of my friends work on staff for BP up there, so they are trying to see if there is any way we can sneak the trucks up to the beach for a quick photo, but I am not hopeful.

    If I had more time, I would do this in addition. I chose to go to AK for several reasons but the main ones are: 1. I have friends in AK that I for years have said I would visit and this is a cool excuse to do so. and 2. AK is the last of the 50 states I have to visit/live in (airports don't count!), so crossing all 50 off the list is a milestone for me. I'll present this option to our crew and see what the opinions are.

    Thanks for the route advice. Having a very rushed schedule for this trip cuts down on the number of things we can explore, but we do plan to take the ice fields parkway. Sure it will be busier, but I think it will be more worthwhile than bombing up the boring freeway.

    No guns on this trip. Don't keep ammo, etc for anything in the truck anyways, but sanitizing anything that even suggests "gun". Certain patches, etc

    The bear issue is one thing I haven't been able to get a lot of good advice on. You see a lot of "overland" style rigs with full kitchens in the back and RTTs. I never have been able to figure out how they stayed safe while doing that. I know the backpacking rules of separating food / camp / toilet, etc, but not how this applies to truck camping/travel. Bearspray will be kept close for sure.

    We will each have 3 cans. This may be overkill, but I'd rather have some working room than be pushing "bingo". I also have a HF race jack out of necessity (Kings...wingman has OME). 2 Spares will probably be fine, esp since my partner runs 5 E rated KO2s. I'll have C rated Discoverer AT3s by departure.

    Yeah, AK is HUUUUGE, so I am trying to balance driving legs+efficiency with safety/burnout factor.

    Thanks for the scenic route advice.

    I've heard about this place, will have to look it up more thoroughly.

    I'll just have him bring both. Friend with the dog is Army EOD, so I am pretty sure he just takes his dog to the working dog vet down the hall.
     
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  10. Aug 6, 2018 at 5:46 PM
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    VE7OSR

    VE7OSR Well-Known Member

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    Canuck here again: Option to get to Banff, travelling through Kananaskis Provincial Park area in Alberta.
    It is west of Banff National Park, travels fairly high up, and there are some short <1 mile hikes that get you right up to the sub-alpine. Less crowded than Banff, and more intimate with the scenery. The route is west of the more common highway to Calgary, AB that travels through ranchlands and foothills.

    On a map, you're aiming for Pincher Creek, Alberta on Alberta Highway 6. More remote but direct route is Montana Highway 17 crossing the border at Chief Mountain (7 am to 10PM summer hours) onto AB Hwy 6, then north to Pincher Creek. There are other options such as crossing at Carway, MT that can get you there as well.

    Travel north of Pincher Creek (ranching community) to Pincher Station, then west on Hwy 3 (Crowsnest Hwy) to intersection with Hwy 40 at Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass, then north into the mountains on Hwy 40. This route has gravel sections, and is a good shakedown run for experiences on the Alcan.
    It takes you up and over the Highwood pass at 7,130', and is only open in the summer. If you travel in June, there is a good chance you will see snow on the mountain sides, but not likely on the road. Option is Hwy 22 heading north sooner.
    https://www.dangerousroads.org/north-america/canada/1353-alberta-highway-40-canada.html

    Elbow Lake hike is a good short hike that takes you to the sub alpine. Impressive scenery.
    https://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/k...fety/trail-reports/peter-lougheed/elbow-lake/

    Once in the Peter Lougheed Park part of the Kananaskis take road 742 turnoff to Spray Lakes, that will take you down to Canmore, AB.
    Plenty of provincial campsites along the way, with good amenities. The wildlife, including Bears are well managed, and educated, better than other parts of the country, so there is both a good chance you will see bears, mountain sheep, mountain goats, Elk, and won't get attacked by them (unless you get too close or someone around you does something dumb) Stay fuelled up where you can get a chance, but the fuel stations are close enough.

    There are some good pubs, restaurants in Canmore, and an excellent hospital. Very sports oriented town, and site of much of the Olympic sport venues during the Calgary Winter Olympics.

    Canmore to Banff is a short 15-20 minute drive west on Hwy 1. Check out the town of Banff, park and walk. It will probably be busy. Generally avoid the spots where a tour bus disgorges its contents, if you don't like crowds, though the folks on from the bus rarely venture very far from paved sidewalks. Banff to Jasper, next.

     
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  11. Aug 6, 2018 at 5:50 PM
    #31
    Gunshot-6A

    Gunshot-6A [OP] Not a Fed

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    Thanks for the advice. I'll have to break out the map and look into a lot of these places. I am familiar with Canmore, Banff, and Jasper, but not the rest.
     
  12. Aug 6, 2018 at 5:56 PM
    #32
    VE7OSR

    VE7OSR Well-Known Member

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    Okay, a different route would be travel west through Glacier National Park in Montana on Hwy 2, then North on Hwy 93 headed to Radium Hotsprings, then NE through Kootenay National Park to intersect with Hwy 1. Also scenic, less remote, more communities along the way, all paved route, and travelling through the Kootenays part of BC is very enjoyable as well. I'll skip describing Banff to Jasper, then onto Prince George via Hwy 16 then, and focus on past PG travels.
     
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  13. Aug 6, 2018 at 5:59 PM
    #33
    VE7OSR

    VE7OSR Well-Known Member

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    Activity option near Canmore : http://www.canmorecavetours.com/
    Rat's Nest Cave. Very cool, absolutely the opposite of a Disneyland amusement park type of cave park such as in the US I've seen.
     
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  14. Aug 6, 2018 at 7:06 PM
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    VE7OSR

    VE7OSR Well-Known Member

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    Prince George to Dawson Creek, the start of the Alcan, and onto Ft. St. John.

    My experience comes from working in the lumber and pulp & paper industry having travelled these routes many times, and the regular highway gets a bit boring after a while, so you find side roads to explore. Often I would camp along the way, for similar reasons, as I enjoy it, and staying in Hotels/ motels gets old.

    Prince George is a good place to get any repairs done, or stock up on any 'Big Box store' items you may want. From here to AK its basically the last major city environment you will encounter. That's not to say places like Dawson Creek, or Ft. St John are not well equipped, but PG should have anything you may need on a store shelf there, or servicing you may need at a moments notice.

    Besides most highway accessible Provincial Parks, which are well run, and equipped with showers, power etc. basically glamping; your other option is Forest Recreation Sites. These are usually low fee, or no fee, include sites typically at a lake, with outhouses, and maybe a picnic table. If you are truck camping, perfect for your needs. http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/

    If you find yourself just trying to make time, and get tired, there are frequent Rest areas. No one is likely to give you any grief if you spend a nite sleeping in your truck at these Rest areas, despite what the signs say. What Rest stops are not designed for is sitting by a camp fire, and pitching your tent, or staying in your RV for a week.

    Travelling north from PG on the John Hart Hwy - Hwy 97, I know I've camped by Summit Lake before, but the map does not show any Recreation sites there. Some of the Recreation sites have been turned over to local municipalities to run. Crooked River Provincial Park by Bear Lake gets fairly busy with RVs headed north for the same route, but there is lots of room there. Good place to socialize with fellow Americans, and some Europeans in their rented RVs. There is Davie Lake off the beaten path outside of Bear Lake, that looks like a good way to avoid the busy-ness if you like.

    Further north, but before Pine pass is Tudyah Lake provincial park, right off the highway. Beautiful sunsets there, bugs will be busy there though.
    Continuing north, at the turnoff to Mackenzie, BC just before climbing into the Pine Pass is a fuel station, and a bit of an eatery there. Kennedy Lake Forest Service Site is west along hwy 97 into the pass and not far from the Mackenzie junction, if you need a place to stay for the night.

    Look for Bijoux Falls on the left of the highway right before the ascent climb of the road a few km NW of the Mackenzie turnoff. Great spot for lunch, and scramble about checking out the waterfall. Its easy to miss, but well worth the stop. Continuing on, enjoy the scenery especially along the eastern ridge at Powder King Ski Resort near the top of the highway climb into the pass.

    At the West Pine Pass rest Area, essentially a truck pullover spot for when the highway gets closed up for avalanche control, there is a short side road into Heart Lake. There is/was a Recreation site in there at the lake. Makes for a better rest stop than the side of the highway. Not sure what shape it is in anymore, as I don't see it listed. A few folks had their private cabins in there as well, but this is an area that was hit hard by the Pine Beetle infestation.

    Carrying on, Chetwynd is your next fuel stop. Murray's Pub & Kitchen was the better spot to eat in town, I think its called Links Pub & Grill now.
    At Chetwynd you have 2 options to continue North. Hwy 29 is shorter, but bypasses Dawson Creek (ALCAN Mile 0) and Ft St John. You can go see the WAC Bennett hydroelectric Dam along that route. Presuming you'll want to go to Dawson Creek, perhaps taking part of the local downtown culture, and leave behind a few dollars at a drinking establishment to say that you did, then Hwy 97 is your bet.

    Leaving Dawson Creek for Fort St. John, there is a short side road to a place called Kiskatinaw Provincial Park, site of the original river crossing trestle bridge, and below the bridge is where the river was forded/ ferried across before the bridge. You can wheel all the way down to the river beach at this site. You can camp there in the Park.

    Crossing the Peace River at Taylor, is a large gas processing plant, and a pulp mill here too. A short while later you'll enter Ft. St. John, its industrial roots in Oil//Gas industry obvious as you pass through town, or fuel up. Also a fair size town to pick up supplies, etc. Prior to Ft. St. John is a large Bison ranch, not what you'ld expect to see perhaps, but kinda cool if a herd is next to the highway fence line.
     
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  15. Aug 7, 2018 at 10:48 PM
    #35
    akkyle

    akkyle Well-Known Member

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    As far as the RTT and bears:

    My wife and I sleep in our RTT and have not had issues with wildlife such as bears. We keep our food inside the cab at night. Camp stove in the bed of the truck. We use 5 gal Lowe’s paint buckets with the sealable lids as our storage for camping gear and food so that it stays dry and we can easily transfer to the cab if need be. I would say the safest thing to do is make sure everyone in your group has bear spray and is familiar with its operation. There have been people attacked by bears that survived because someone else in the group was able to pull their spray and effectively use it. If a bear was to attack you, then most likely you wouldn’t have the time to draw and aim a gun/bear spray, but another person in your group could. That’s my opinion on it, plus when traveling in groups you just naturally make more noise which helps with bears knowing you are in their area and they stay away.

    June may still have snow so be prepared for that.
     
    Gunshot-6A [OP] and VE7OSR like this.
  16. Aug 8, 2018 at 8:07 AM
    #36
    Gunshot-6A

    Gunshot-6A [OP] Not a Fed

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    This is the info I was hoping to hear. Sounds like as long as you aren't being dumb, the risks are acceptable.

    And yeah, I can't imagine getting to your bear spray as a 600lb Grizz is on top of you would be easy.
     
  17. Aug 8, 2018 at 8:41 AM
    #37
    crazysccrmd

    crazysccrmd Well-Known Member

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    Chances are high you won't even see a bear the entire time you're in Alaska.
     
  18. Aug 8, 2018 at 9:07 AM
    #38
    Gunshot-6A

    Gunshot-6A [OP] Not a Fed

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    ...but...I wanna see one... Just not "danger close"
     
  19. Aug 8, 2018 at 10:58 AM
    #39
    AKHawkeye

    AKHawkeye Well-Known Member

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    You might see either a brown, or a black bear off the beaten path... AKA the Dalton Hwy. I would wager though, you'd see a black bear before a brown. The rest of the highway system is busy enough in the summers due to tourism that the bears keep their distance.
     
  20. Aug 8, 2018 at 1:23 PM
    #40
    SnowroxKT

    SnowroxKT Well-Known Member

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    I've seen 7 black bears this year, 6 around town and 1 fishing on the Russian. Been a lot of bears around Anchorage/Eagle River area this year, in addition to the maulings in Eagle River too.
     

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