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Thread: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

  1. #1

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    allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Hello everyone I am new to this forum. I have been planning on riding to Alaska this year from my home in Western Pennsylvania. I have read lots of great threads and picked up much needed info and I thank you guys for this but I now want your opinion on how long should my trip be. My buddy and I work so I realize some don't have a time table for an adventure such as this but in our case we do and I am a long way off from retirement. I don't see many threads on how many days and how many miles that was put on during a trip to Alaska. I have done many 2 week trips in the lower 48 and even one trip to Nova Scotia so I have some trip experience but realize this trip is gonna be different. I know there can be many factors that can alter a long trip like this but you have to start somewhere in planning, right? Mapquest tells me it is 4,000 from my town to Fairbanks Alaska. So 8,000 round trip and I am figuring on adding another 2,000, this makes 10,000 miles and my target time is 30 days for the trip. This gives me a 300 mile a day average to get there and back. I am hoping this is enough time to stop and do some sight seeing, after all this is one reason why we are doing this. For anyone who has done the trip I would be interested in hearing your comments. Planning on leaving May 25 and returning the weekend of June 23-24, going to be tenting it and neither of us will be pulling a trailer which should allow for better traveling.

    Thanks

    Don

  2. #2
    Lloyd's Avatar
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Hi Don, wish I could help you more, but I never had a chance to go to Alaska. It sounds to me like your trip is doable, and you might be able to make the days closer to 500 mile days while you are in country you may have seen before, or will return to on another trip. If you average 50 MPH, a ten hour day will get you 500, and if daylight is long enough, you will still have time to set up camp. Using motels will save you some time, but someone will steal your camping equipment if you don't take the time to take it in the room with you. Good luck with your trip, wish I were young enough to do the same. Let us know how it goes.
    Hopefully others with more experience will offer better advice.
    Lloyd and Judy in Columbiaville, MI.
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  3. #3

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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    You can do the trip in the 30 day time frame. If your going to take the same or similar way back, haul azz on the way to Alaska. Once you get there it will be easy to figure out how long it will take to get home and how much time you can spend wandering around. We did several trips to and from NY state to Alaska in the late 70 through the early 80's in a cage. It was 4500 miles each way, and the Alcan was mostly dirt. We could make it in 8 days , BUT 10 was more comfortable.

    If your headed to Fairbanks, you can get a good deal renting a dorm room at the university. I'm old and so is some of my information, not sure they still do it, but you can check it out to see Call Conference Services at 907-474-6769.

    A must see is the antique car museum in Fairbanks. http://www.fountainheadmuseum.com/ and the UAF Museum https://www.uaf.edu/museum/ If you wanna party check out the Howling Dog Saloon in Fox. http://www.howlingdogsaloonak.com/

    I will also give you a warning. First off I love Fairbanks and the only reason I don't live there is it gets 90 in the summer and 50 below in the winter. I live in the banana belt, Wasilla. I drove tour bus summers from '89 to '95. Fairbanks is a typical old time Alaska town, but most tourists didn't like it. Anchorage, you could move to pretty much any other state and nobody would know it was from Alaska (except for the mountains). Most tourists love Anchorage........go figure???? Our saying is Alaska is an hours drive either north or south of Anchorage.

  4. #4
    just another Saddle Tramp Dusty Boots's Avatar
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    How many hrs/day are you comfortable riding in the saddle day in, day out and what type of roads do you prefer to ride on? (Interstates, US series highways, State Roads etc)
    Myself, I prefer to be on the road by 7 am at the latest (quite often in early summer I am on the road by 5) and then pull off between 4 to 6 pm at the latest as anything later than 5:30 greatly reduces your chance of finding vacant campsites!!
    Figure out the speed you like to travel at (for me it's between 60 - 65 mph on either US/SR or paved back roads), figure out your bike's fuel range and then factor approx how many fuel stops per day I figure approx 15 min each one) and then meal stops (1 hr each)
    So, if you plan on riding that averaging 300 mi per day and you average 200 mi per tank, figure on 2 fuel stops per day (I like to fill up right before I pull off for the day so I'll have a full tank to leave camp with) 1, or 2 pee breaks @ 10 min each, 1 meal break and any POI breaks along the way of your planned route, you will get a better idea of how far you'll get on an average day.
    When I'm planning a tour, I use an average of 50 mph as a basis to calculate distance per hour, minus any POI/meal stops.

    So, if you leave by 7 am and pull off by 4:30 pm that equals 9.5 hrs of available riding time @ 50 mph = 475 mi/day .... - 1 hr for a meal = 425 mi., - 2 pee stops = 395 mi per day comfortably. Less if stopping at POIs, or photo ops!!
    Easy to do when heading west and gaining time when crossing through time zones as you are gaining an hour each zone, but tougher when losing an hour each time coming back

    That's how I basically go about figuring out time needed for any given distance while MotoCamping. YMMV

    Yes, it's a little conservative, but that way I don't feel pressured/goal oriented for each night's planned destination as an objective, as I know I can make it easily and have a relaxed set up time and time to cook a leisurely dinner and 'explore' camp afterwards and the socializing that comes with that
    It's supposed to be fun/relaxed and not an endurance test day after day, which gets old FAST!

    Don't forget that Google Map and Map Quest driving times for any distance driven is based upon no stops and at (or above) the posted speed limits.


    Dusty
    Ken - 1992 Honda GL1500 Aspencade 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour
    Camping Styles - tent camp off of bike - 2013 HF Cargo trailer - 2011 Aspen Sentry
    "It's never too early to plan and never too late to go!" - Dusty
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  5. #5
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Thanks for the responses.

    That is what I need to figure out, can I expect to average 50 mph each day, there are not a lot of roads to chose from and yes I do prefer the two lanes over 4. If I can average 50 mph that puts me in a manageable time frame each day where I can enjoy my trip and if we experience bad weather or a problem with the bike making up time is very doable.

    Daylight shouldn't be a problem as the farther North you go we can experience up to 20 hours. So if we find a camping spot with a poi we can always explore later in the evening. We prefer to be on the road early.

    Llyod, we have been to many rallies and stayed in some sketchy motels and have never experienced theft, I realize it happens but have you been a victim more than once? I know I never leave anything on the bike I cannot do without but my buddies bikes do not even have locking saddlebags.

  6. #6
    fireshine's Avatar
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    the wife and i are planning our trip for 2020 we would be leaving mid june for 4-5 weeks i'm very interested on how your trip turns out keep us posted. also would like to know what if any type of camper you are using we have been looking a several models and i think we are down to 3 have a great time and lots of pics

  7. #7
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Quote Originally Posted by fireshine View Post
    the wife and i are planning our trip for 2020 we would be leaving mid june for 4-5 weeks i'm very interested on how your trip turns out keep us posted. also would like to know what if any type of camper you are using we have been looking a several models and i think we are down to 3 have a great time and lots of pics
    I will keep this post going after I get back, that way it will be useful for the next guy. I have read your post and as I mentioned before I had a kwik kamp trailer and did a two week trip down the smoky mountains and then over to the east coast and back home. The trailer I felt limited me from enjoying riding the bike at times, you always had to be alert and planning ahead in everything I did. Don't get me wrong it was great to camp out of but I wanna do two wheels and not tow anything so will be tenting it most of the time and a motel here and there. I couldn't imagine having a bad stretch of road on the Alcan and coming up on a huge pothole with 3 different tire paths to try and avoid it. I remember once when I was in Wyoming and they miles of the road tore up, trying to find a good path for two wheels was bad enough, I can't imagine towing a 200-300 pound trailer and finding a good path for those wheels as well. I know plenty of people have done it, i am just saying I do not want to do it.

  8. #8
    BigBob's Avatar
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Lot's of good info so far. Your time frame sounds doable. For years I planned a month for my trips to the mid-west to see family. Late May might be a bit chilly. Last May 25th on the first night of my trip south it was 38 degrees when we camped in Whitehorse. I second the suggestion of running longer days early in your trip when the roads are good. It's a nice trip but be prepared for all kinds of weather. Good rain gear and electric vest. Start your trip with NEW tires or plan on getting new tires before you leave the states. Tires cost $$$ up here.
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  9. #9
    Lloyd's Avatar
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Quote Originally Posted by redbank View Post
    Thanks for the responses.

    That is what I need to figure out, can I expect to average 50 mph each day, there are not a lot of roads to chose from and yes I do prefer the two lanes over 4. If I can average 50 mph that puts me in a manageable time frame each day where I can enjoy my trip and if we experience bad weather or a problem with the bike making up time is very doable.

    Daylight shouldn't be a problem as the farther North you go we can experience up to 20 hours. So if we find a camping spot with a poi we can always explore later in the evening. We prefer to be on the road early.

    Llyod, we have been to many rallies and stayed in some sketchy motels and have never experienced theft, I realize it happens but have you been a victim more than once? I know I never leave anything on the bike I cannot do without but my buddies bikes do not even have locking saddlebags.
    On my very first motorcycle trip, we stopped at a motel on I-40 west of Nashville, we parked right outside the room door. I put a cover on our bike, the couple we were traveling with didn't have one, someone stole everything they could get from his bike, exposed rolls of film, his maps, cigarettes, underwear, even the pad for his tank bag. They never touched mine. And once while riding the Blueridge Parkway, we pulled off to a motel, I had a 91 Goldwing with a sidecar, again parked right outside the room door, when we came out in the morning, the cover was gone, and someone took a couple of the snap on sidecovers. You just never know who may want something on your bike. Then again after about 65 years of camping, I have left all kinds of camping equipment in tents, and have never had anything stolen, other than a raccoon stealing my donuts a couple of times.

  10. #10
    Site Supporter Bluetick's Avatar
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    Re: allowing enough time to Alaska and back from PA

    Do you want the ride up/back or just to ride in Alaska? I flew up to visit my daughter once when she was stationed in Fairbanks (Ft. Wainwright) and rented a bike there. Gave the wife and I a lot more time to see the sights and was probably cheaper in the long run. Not a whole lot of roads up there to ride. There are some nice Hot Springs not too far from Fairbanks that are worth a couple hours of your time. Just be warned, you won't want to get out.
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