Doug's Trip Summary

Now that we have returned from Alaska and had time to reflect on our trip, we have asked ourselves, "Would we do this again?" And the answer is, "Probably not."

I can hear the collective gasp of the Alaska fans.

Let me make it clear that the four weeks we spent inside Alaska does not make us experts on Alaska travel. We saw and experienced only a tiny fraction of the state, limited to those areas accessible by a large recreational vehicle. But our experience was typical of many RVers that come to Alaska

We talked to many RVers that had made the trip to Alaska and we read the journals and travelogues of many others. Except for one or two, they loved Alaska and had been there several times or were planning to return. Our expectations were pretty high.

It's a long way to Alaska - about 8400 miles round trip from Virgina Beach to Tok. Campground fees and fuel costs ran about $6,000, not including three weeks spent visiting Utah and Arizona. A round trip in an RV, with no stops or detours, takes about 4 to 6 weeks, plus the time spent in Alaska. That is a big investment of time and money.

I think that Alaska and northwest Canada were too much wilderness for me. When you have to go 120 miles to get milk and eggs, you are really in the boondocks. When your car starts acting up and the nearest service center is 250 miles away, that's scary.

The roads up north are tough on man and machine. If I had stayed on the Alaska Highway, it would not have been too bad. But I went through Dawson City, YT to Chicken, AK and that set the tone for the rest of the trip. I returned via the Cassiar Highway and the northern 260 miles were pretty rough. Frost heaves, long stretches of unpaved roads with potholes and mud. My rig took a beating even though I took it easy.

The weather was cloudy or mostly cloudy with many rainy days and that hid a lot of the scenery.

Outside of the major cities of Anchorage, Edmonton, and Calgary, prices were very high. In remote areas, prices were outrageous.

The tundra and taiga are not pretty areas for me.

I have mixed feelings about Denali National Park. With the exception of grizzly bears, I have seen large mammals just as often in the parks in the lower 48. The Denali tours are a grueling 8 to 11 hour bus ride over some very rough roads.

Before this turns into an anti-Alaska rant, here are the things I liked about Alaska:

  • Kenia Fjords National Park tour
  • Up close view of many glaciers
  • A fisherman and hunter's paradise
  • Abundance of wildlife. Your chances of seeing large mammals are pretty good.
  • The town of Haines and the surrounding area
  • The drive to Valdez and Stewart
Alaska has its attractions, but consider a section of the lower 48 of equal size - the deserts of the southwest, the slickrock country of Utah, the Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevadas, the Cascades, the Oregon coast, Big Sur, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Tetons - there is so much to see in the lower 48 states.

Apparently, our view of Alaska is shared by only a very small minority. RVers flock to Alaska in droves. The many campgrounds are often full. The tours and fishing charters are booked days, weeks, and months in advance. So our opinion of Alaska is not representative. And it is just that - our opinion.