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  • Riding to Alaska Info

    I am starting a thread about riding to Alaska. If you want to ride to Alaska and have any questions please post them up and I will try to help you out. I have lived in Juneau for 40+ years and traveling with motorcycles the whole time. I will add info from time to time

    The milepost is a good tool for info. It is a large book. If you purchase a copy I believe you will get access to an on-line pfd that you can download. Bookstores can get it or Amazon has it too.

    Here is a link to their site, they have a bunch of info on it: https://www.themilepost.com/
    Here is a link to another travel guide, Bells travel guide: https://www.bellsalaska.com/

    One question that always comes up, will my cell phone work? Maybe :-) You need to check with your provider and confirm a couple things. You need to have a plan that covers phone use and coverage with data in Canada. Do you have an unlimited plan? They vary company to company.
    Now you have a plan, there will be long stretches, 100's of miles on the Alcan with no coverage. The only places with coverage will be the community's along the route.

    Is it paved is another question that comes up. Yes it is paved from one end to the other. I know we all have family and friends with horror story's of the Alcan. I have a few horror story's myself but the last few years it has been in the best shape I have ever seen it. The surface can vary from Asphalt to chipseal. It will not be like riding on the interstates down south but two lane state or county roads. You may encounter some construction. Take your time, look ahead where you want to go, stay in the tire tracks and shift to one gear higher than you would normally be in at any given speed.

    More to follow
    GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
    GL1800 & XR650L Hers
    IBA #66870
    sigpic

  • #2
    Re: Riding to Alaska Info

    Gas is another question that comes up and rightfully so, your going to ride to the end of the earth

    At some remote places on the Alcan purchasing fuel can be different from what your used to. It will be an old style pump, no credit card reader, there will be a sign saying to leave a credit card inside before gas can be pumped. I personally don't like doing that. I have offered a 100 dollar bill instead, no deal, arguing has not worked so I always carry an old Visa gift card even if it doesn't have a balance on it. I give it to the clerk, pump my gas and walk in tell them I gave them the wrong card and hand them my normal Visa card to pay for my gas and get my gift card back.

    Plan on having a max range of 170 miles or so between gas stops in most places there is fuel closer than that but sometimes roadhouses will be closed. I am riding an 1800 wing pulling a RAH camper and I travel these roads without having to use any extra fuel. I sometimes carry an MSR 30 oz. fuel bottle (my 10 mile jug)

    These are my normal fuel stops:
    Dawson Creek, mile 0
    Pink Mountain, 140 mi
    Fort Nelson, 140 mi
    Toad River, 117 mi
    Muncho Lake, 32 mi. Home of the most expensive gas, Top off it's 170 miles to Watson Lake. There are stops in between but I don't count on them being open.
    Watson Lake 201 mi if you don't top off at Muncho Lake
    Teslin, 162 mi
    Whitehorse, 110 mi
    Haines Junction, 100 mi
    Destruction Bay, 66 mi
    Beaver Creek, 116 mi.
    Tok, 110 mi
    Delta Junction, 107 mi
    Fairbanks, 95 mi

    More to follow
    GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
    GL1800 & XR650L Hers
    IBA #66870
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    • #3
      Re: Riding to Alaska Info

      Let's discuss medical coverage since a bunch of us are old farts and on medicare. If you only have Medicare A&B your not covered in Canada. If you don't have any other coverage you should look into addition coverage.
      If you end up in a Canadian village clinic and need to get back south? I recommend some kind of Medivac insurance. My neighbor is an Alaska Airlines pilot but in his prior employment he flew the medivac jets. We discussed cost of getting a medivac from interior Alaska to Seattle, he said they can easily run 70-100k for a flight.
      There are a bunch of services that are US/Alaska based but they most likely will not cover you in Canada and the Canadian services may not work for Alaska. Most of these services are what is called gap insurance, it only covers the percentage that your medical insurance doesn't pay. On a 100k flight that could be 20-30k out of your pocket.
      For Alaska residents we have several services that 100-125 dollars a year but they don't cover Canada.

      There may be others but the only service I am aware of that will cover you in all of North America is https://medjetassist.com/medjethorizon
      They have a variety of plans including short term and coverage to get your Wing home if your unable to ride.

      Disclaimer: I am not connected to any Medivac service, just a rider that has been traveling the Alcan since 1976
      GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
      GL1800 & XR650L Hers
      IBA #66870
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      • #4
        Re: Riding to Alaska Info

        A little info on the Alaska ferry. When you travel on the ferry you will be paying for the person, the bike and a cabin if it's a longer voyage.

        There are several ships ranging from 235 foot dayboat ships to our mainline ferry's up to the 418 foot Columbia.
        They sail from Bellingham Washington for those of you that can't get into Canada due to legal or second amendment issues. This ferry will only stop in Alaska ports.
        They also sail from Prince Rupert BC. This is about half way to Bellingham and about half the cost.

        There are cafeterias/snack bars on all of the Alaska ferry's.

        The cabins are optional, you can just sleep in a lounge. They have a variety of lounges on the larger ships with airplane style seats or sofas. You can even lay on your sleeping pad/sleeping bag. There is a solarium on most of them, its outdoors/covered with electric heaters. You can also pitch your freestanding tent at the solarium BUT the wind will blow it off the ship! You must use duct tape and or rope to secure it. Myself I get a cabin if it's an overnight voyage. with most cabins you get your own bathroom/shower, towels/bedding, sink, desk and chair. There are electric outlets to charge phones/laptops. They have inside and outside cabins, 2,3,4 berth/bed cabins. The outside cabin has a window that you can sit in your room and watch the beauty go past your window. The inside cabins can be a bit claustrophobic for some folks.

        The larger ferry's will have public washrooms with free showers if you don't get a cabin. You can get towers and soap from the pursers counter.

        You must tie down your bike on the ferry. We always carry two tie downs each, I think they are about 8 foot. They don't have to be huge ratchet straps like a car hauler would use. The crew members will guide you to a parking spot. Look around for yellow floor monuments and or yellow or white rails along the walls. You can secure to them and your crash bars. It's common for my wife (who rides her own Wing) and I to park side by side. One tie down will go from the ships rail to a crash bar and then one tie down from bike to bike then a third tie down from crash bar to a floor monument.
        One note on the hooks on the tie downs make sure the fit over your crash bars

        In the summer the ferry rides are pretty smooth. There is a few spots coming from Bellingham or Prince Rupert where the ferry is exposed to the ocean swells. It normally not too bad and it's just a short distance and the ferry is back to sheltered waters.

        We have a wide range of tides in SE Alaska. That can make a difference on how easy it is to get on and off a ferry. At high tide the ramp can be almost level. At low tide that ramp can look like a mountain and you have to ride an over loaded Wing up it..... The ramps can be wet, it rains a lot. The ramp will have grated areas for the car tires. ride on those grated areas, don't ride in the middle, it's slick. When it's your turn to go line up straight and wait till the vehicle in front of you has cleared the ramp, if they stop 3/4 the way up and your tailgating them in the rain you could be in deep trouble.

        If your loading in Skagway there are large timbers that are part of the ramp to the ship. They are slippery when wet to not hit them at an angle.
        GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
        GL1800 & XR650L Hers
        IBA #66870
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        • #5
          Re: Riding to Alaska Info

          There is another route that you can take to get to or from the north counrty. It's the Cassiar Highway #37 It is all paved with one short section south of Dease Lake that is still gravel. The last few years it has been in great shape. It reminds me of the way the Alaska Highway used to be before they straightened it out.
          Do the Alcan in one direction and the Cassiar in the other direction.

          On the Cassiar the gas stops are:
          At the south end, Junction with highway 16
          Meziadin Junction, 98 mi
          Bell 2 Lodge, 58 mi
          Dease Lake, 150 mi
          Junction 37, 150 mi at this point you join the Alcan about 13 miles west of Watson Lake

          Again there are other gas stops but these are the ones I have used on a dozen trips on a Wing.
          GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
          GL1800 & XR650L Hers
          IBA #66870
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          • #6
            Re: Riding to Alaska Info

            Thank you for doing this Bob

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            • #7
              Re: Riding to Alaska Info

              Bears and Bear spray and Canadian Customs:
              We do have bears up here.... You can legally have Bear Spray when entering Canada BUT it must be labeled as Bear spray, not pepper spray. When you purchase the Bear spray check the date, its has an expiration date like milk. Fresher is better!
              GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
              GL1800 & XR650L Hers
              IBA #66870
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              • #8
                Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                Let's talk about customs, US and Canadian. I know for a lot of you riders that are coming north this may be your first time dealing with Customs. It's not really that big of a deal normally.

                I stop before entering the secure area Take my sunglasses off, I will pull my ear plugs out and get my passport out before riding up to the booth.

                When it's my turn I ride up, shift to neutral and shut the bike off. By then the agent will be asking you questions. Be courteous, Smile. They will ask questions like Where you going, how long will you be in country, any gifts that I will be leaving in Canada and do I have any weapons or firearms.

                The US Customs will ask you if you have 10k or more in cash, I am a poor boy so my answer is no.

                My answers are short and sweet, you don't need to give them your life story, If you have a newer passport with a chip in it they know everything about you before you open your mouth so tell the truth and please don't argue with them about second amendment issues.

                Most of the time it's only about a minute or two. Have I ever been searched... Yup, 5 times as I recall but that is out of a couple hundred border crossings. The longest and most thorough searches have been US Customs. I have to say the boy's and girl's of US Customs have been the biggest pain in my fanny but they are keeping us safe.

                After the Customs agent give you the ok to proceed I will start the bike and pull up a bit clear of the building and the areas they have for searching vehicles and tuck my passport away, put my sunglasses back on, ear plugs, gloves and then hit the road.

                If your hearing impaired let the officer know you are. My wife wears hearing aids but she doesn't wear them while riding so she pulls up to customs and recites all their questions from memory with her answers in a loud voice. They usually smile and wave her on.

                Update on this: Yesterday I crossed back into the US in North Dakota and the agent had me step off the bike and remove my helmet, then he asked me to open the trunk and saddle bags on my Wing. Then said ok, you can go, not a big deal, not searching thru them, just a look. It has been several years since I have had that happen.
                GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
                GL1800 & XR650L Hers
                IBA #66870
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                • #9
                  Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                  All great info. Just about all of the above happened to a few of us that rode to Alaska last year.
                  Rick B
                  NE Oregon
                  Freedom Cruisers Riding Club
                  Patriot Guard Riderssigpic

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                  • #10
                    Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                    Great info Bob! Luckily I have never had to get off the bike when crossing the borders. I always tried to remember to tell them the brand name of the bear spray and tell them that yes it does have a picture of a bear on the label. I normally gas up every chance I can.

                    I thought Dease Lake area would be bigger! Where’s the best place to stay there? Last time we stayed at the RV Park in pouring rain.
                    Steve

                    2017 Suzuki DL650A V-Strom 2005 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom, 2002 Harley Road King Classic, 1976 Harley Sportster

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                    • #11
                      Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                      Thanks for the info! Planning on Alaska in 2020.
                      2010 GL1800 Endeavor Reverse Trike, Leesure Lite Excel camper.sigpic

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                      • #12
                        Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                        Always get gas when there is some available , ya never know ... First time on a bike was in 1979 , ALCAN was really fun back then ...
                        2011 Harley Road Glide Ultra

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                        • #13
                          Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                          Originally posted by Ironheadziggy76 View Post
                          Great info Bob! Luckily I have never had to get off the bike when crossing the borders. I always tried to remember to tell them the brand name of the bear spray and tell them that yes it does have a picture of a bear on the label. I normally gas up every chance I can.

                          I thought Dease Lake area would be bigger! Where’s the best place to stay there? Last time we stayed at the RV Park in pouring rain.
                          The part of Dease Lake you see from the highway is just a quick oh wow I missed it. There is a road or two that go off to the west side of the highway where everyone lives, airport and such but the business area is what you saw in the highway.
                          Camping there? I only stayed there once and it was in an RV, there was a free community campsite south of town on a river but there were fish in the river and bears all over, I would not put up my tent there. I think that RV site is about it. I prefer to camp at Bell2 It's at mile 155 from the south end of the Cassiar. They have a campground, nice bathrooms and lodge, cabins and dining room. If I am in my pup tent I get an RV site and use the power for my cpap.
                          GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
                          GL1800 & XR650L Hers
                          IBA #66870
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                          • #14
                            Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                            My wife and I just rode up the Alcan yesterday and today. We turn off the Alcan tomorrow and ride to Skagway to catch the ferry home. The construction season has started on the Alcan. A week and a half ago I rode south from Whitehorse and there was only one gravel construction area, now there were 6 of them and they are staging gear for a few more. One of the sections was 40 km long of gravel. If it's wet you will be covered in mud, if it's dry the dust can be so thick you can't see 20 feet.
                            On my southbound leg the smoke from forest fires was thick south of Watson Lake. Riding north there wan't any smoke because it was raining cats and dogs. When the rain stopped south of Toad River and the sky cleared it was stunning. All the mountains had fresh snow.... it was 41-46 degrees most of the day till the sun came out.
                            GL1800 & KLR650 Mine 2009 Rollahome
                            GL1800 & XR650L Hers
                            IBA #66870
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                            • #15
                              Re: Riding to Alaska Info

                              Good info, Bob!! We have lived in AK since '78 and Wasilla since '81. Folks are welcome to camp at our place and work on their bikes in our shop (no charge). Always fun meeting travelers. Lots of interesting stories.

                              We do the Alcan every year.....go to AZ in November and head home in March in our pickup camper/enclosed trailer. Love the Alcan in the off season.....not much traffic.

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