Need Help Planning a Trip to Alaska in our 2014 Prius

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by DoubleDAZ, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    That's not a problem, I usually enter such addresses in the built-in nav, Garmin and phone anyway. I'm kind of anal when it comes to potential gas stations, restaurants, etc., along our routes. I don't always enter service centers, but planned to do so for this trip.
     
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  2. -Jere

    -Jere Junior Member

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    Snow tires (regardless of season they are actually a cheap rally racers choice for gravel roads) solar phone and car battery chargers, plug in phone antennas if your phone has the option. Spare water and gas cans, tire plug kit (not that slime in a can crap), bear mace, paper maps and compass, lighters, flares guns, other survival basic stuff
     
    #22 -Jere, Feb 4, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  3. Jayne K

    Jayne K Junior Member

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  4. Jayne K

    Jayne K Junior Member

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    Just got back from a 5,150 mile road trip from Utah to Alaska via the Alcan Highway. Averaged 70 mpg . Packed a full sized spare tire, 3 passengers and all our stuff which fit in the cargo area with room to see out of the rear wave window. Used the 2018 Milepost and created my own itinerary for this 3 week road trip which included a 5 night ferry ride from Whittier to Bellingham.

    I used booking.com and planned motel stays with an 8 to 12 hour drive in between each stop. Mary's Motel in Golden, Motel 6 in Grand Prairie, Poplars Inn in Toad River and Glacier View Inn in Haines Junction.

    I topped off the gas whenever I could but there were lots of stations along the route and it helped that the Prime could travel on 70 mpg.

    We were lucky to have friends who put us up in Willow AK. After that we stayed at Carlos Creek in Denali and Alaska Moosehorn ABNB in Homer.

    Take the 12 hour bus tour in Denali for $60 and try to get the driver, Wendy! She's awesome and stops for every wild life sighting! Don't fall for the $208 bus tour! They go to the same place and make frequent restroom stops. Wendy will tell you all about the wild life in Denali.

    The roads were very good with a few construction spots. No traffic! Needed 3 car washes on my new Prime which I put on the Kennicot ferry (the staff was so friendly!)

    What an awesome trip! Moose, bison, bald eagles, caribou, bears, humpbacks, porcupines, squirrels, hawk owls, cranes, more moose and more eagles. Best trip ever... So far


    Oh and I used a whole bottle of insect repellent from Costco and mosquito punks! Don't just spray it on your skin. Spray on your hands and rub it all over. Those mosquitoes will find the tiny spot your spray missed! The punks were placed on the front porch or decks near the doors and kept them off of us. We could relax outside without being bothered as long as the punks were about 5 feet apart. I used 4 at a time.
     
    #24 Jayne K, Aug 6, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  5. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    Hi Jayne. Thanks for posting your experience. We're still planning our trip and I have several questions that might be easier to discuss via email. If you're open to that, please shoot me an email at [email protected].
     
    #25 DoubleDAZ, Aug 6, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  6. PA Prius

    PA Prius Active Member

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    Just seeing this thread now. We drove PA to AK and back last year, about 14,000 miles. Slept in the car a few nights, which is a nice little side-adventure in itself if are into that kind of thing!

    We did it without a spare, but were well equipped with plug kit, compressor, variety of screws and gorilla glue. We had one flat on the Alcan. Plug kit and compressor took care of it. Still running that tire and plug. (Also got a screw in our new self-sealing Bolt tire. Didn't self-seal. Plug working fine there too). We did know that a major blow-out or sidewall damage could cost us a day or two of time and higher expense, but we were willing to go with that in exchange for the added space, esp. since we were RV'ing it.

    Do visit Denali NP if you are able. (We volunteered close by a the Denali Education Center for 5 weeks). Also, Denali Highway was a highlight (Cantwell to Paxson). Somewhat rugged for most of the 134 miles-- more similar to the Alcan that I recall from 1970 when riding as a boy with my parents.

    Enjoy!!
     
  7. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    My wife won't do the RV thing, motels are a must. She also over packs, so a full-size spare is probably not in the cards either. My biggest concerns are stopping too soon and wasting time sitting around a motel or trying to go too far and wishing I'd had more time for sightseeing. For example, Jayne went 11 hours from Poplars to Glacier View where I'd probably stop in Whitehorse 9 1/2 hours. She also went 8 1/2 hours from Mary's to Motel 6 and I'm wondering if that left enough time for sightseeing through Banff/Jasper. That's just some of the questions I have. Even after reviewing Milepost, watching You Tube videos and reading trip reports, it's still hard for me to get a sense of what there is to see/do along the way. I know there are things like the Liard River Hot Springs and the Sign Post Forest along the way too, but a lot of folks don't always mention those stops, so it's hard to tell how worthwhile they are. I also kind of wanted to go up that way and come back down on Hwy 37 to Vancouver, but route has fewer motels without driving longer, so that might not be practical. It'd be so much easier if we could do like we do here in the Lower 48, makes reservations only a day ahead of time or even early that afternoon.
     
  8. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    Oh, and I wondered about those Denali tours, so thanks for the tip. I had heard of the Denali Highway, so that's tentatively on the list.
     
  9. PA Prius

    PA Prius Active Member

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    When are you planning to leave. I can write you more from vacation starting Thursday, until then I should really be doing other things!!
     
  10. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    Our trip won't be until late next June, so there's no rush. I went ahead and ordered Milepost 2018, so I'll have my own copy. I had pre-ordered it earlier this year and then cancelled it. Turns out I ended up getting it cheaper. :) We were going this summer, but medical issues forced us to postpone. I also want to go to Skagway and take the car ferry to Juneau for 3-4 nights.
     
  11. PA Prius

    PA Prius Active Member

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    Great. More later.
     
  12. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    Received the Milepost in the mail today and it's twice as thick as the one I got from the library, so I'm curious to see what the differences are.
     
  13. PA Prius

    PA Prius Active Member

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    A few more comments from our trip last year—
    - I wish we had been more flexible with our itinerary and made spontaneous stops along the way. Liard River Hot Springs was also highly recommended to us by a number of people. Unfortunately we didn't stop.
    - We drove up on the Alcan and returned on the Cassiar Highway which was nice.
    - We took one of the 8 hour Glacier and Wildlife cruises out of Seward. Amazing. You may see some of that on your Juneau cruise, not sure.
    - Our favorite hike on the whole trip was the Exit Glacier hike on the Harding Icefield Trail near Seward. If you are physically able to do that hike to the top, do it! 9 mile round trip, climbs 3500'. The hike begins by going through temperate rain forest, across alpine meadows and ends with a view over the 700 square mile Harding Icefield.
     
  14. PA Prius

    PA Prius Active Member

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    IMG_8196.JPG IMG_8583.JPG Two quick pics from our trip—
    a) morning-after at a rest stop along the Alcan
    b) No, not our tire. We met this guy along the road soon after we started on the 134 rugged and remote Denali Highway. Since we did not have a spare this certainly gave us pause! He was carrying two spares and this was the third flat on his trip, although he was doing a lot more back-country driving than we were. I tried in vain to help him remove that rock from his tire with a screwdriver and pliers. He was hoping to repair it, although I'm not sure if that would have been possible. He resorted to using one of his spares.
     
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  15. DoubleDAZ

    DoubleDAZ Senior Member

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    Thanks for the additional info and photos. That does look like a nasty stone and would make me think twice too. I know the gravel on roads up there can be quite sharp compared to the gravel on forest roads here and those I used to drive in Wisconsin. Given the driving we plan to do though, I'll probably risk just having new tires and a repair kit like you did.

    I like that you mentioned the Cassiar Highway and would like to know where you stopped along that route to get a better feel for distances. For some reason when I was doing research last fall there didn't seem to be a lot of lodging options along that route. I used Google Maps and Trip Advisor then too, so I must have been doing something wrong because now I'm seeing quite a few motels. Perhaps it was the time of year and maybe a lot were closed, so they didn't show up. I'm going to have to look again and see what the new Milepost shows.

    Another thing, we're early risers, so we either eat breakfast at the motel or stop at a fast food place down the road. Down here motel breakfast buffets open as early as 5:00 and as late as 7:00, though usually around 6:00. Since you camped, can I assume you made breakfast before you got on the road or did you find some place to eat along the way? I don't imagine there are a lot of fast food places (Tim Horton's, McDonald's, etc.) along that route until closer to Prince George, so I imagine I need to plan some additional time for breakfast and maybe even lunch. Our driving day usually begins around 6:00 and ends around 5:00. We don't waste a lot of time during stops, so we pretty much drive for 10 solid hours and well over 500 miles. Since speed limits are lower in Canada though and we'll probably need to plan for more and longer stops, I'm thinking we might only be able to make around 400-450 miles a day.

    When I first started looking I have to admit that I thought it'd be easier to find some recommended itineraries from either Seattle/Vancouver or Calgary, maybe even Great Falls MT. Milepost shows various route options, but I don't see any suggested itineraries with day to day stops. I tried the Fodor's website and, like here, got some very useful information, but little in the way of suggested itineraries. Most of the trip reports and blogs I read were from campers, like yourself, and so far that hasn't shed much light on itineraries. I guess I'm just going to have to read through Milepost and try to plan each day that way. Another option is to have the folks at AAA outline a trip for me and go from there. Down here I generally plan my itineraries around Choice Hotels. Up there I'm pretty much out of luck once I get past Dawson Creek, so I have to rely on Trip Advisor reviews. :)
     
  16. MattyD.

    MattyD. Junior Member

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    This is one of my favorite threads to date, thanks everyone for all the info shared. I just recently purchased my second prius, a 2009 touring and am planning several long road trips for this year. Oregon to Texas in June and Oregon to Michigan in April. I'm also fantasizing about a trip deep into western bc as well as west central Alaska. It looks like new tires are a great idea before starting a serious roadtrip.
     
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