This week we asked experienced truck campers to share their tips on what to see in Alaska, what to do in Alaska, and where to spend more time in Alaska.
Here are 33 respondents who have taken a truck camper rig to Alaska at least once and share their best tips for truck camping in The Last Frontier. Get your Alaska bucket list out and a pen. You’re going to need it.
Bonus: Don’t miss our Alaska section. It’s full of even more valuable Alaska truck camping reports, tips, and tricks.
“Our biggest mistake was going and coming back on the Alcan Highway. We should have returned down the West Coast. Since we live on the East Coast, it was a matter of time and miles.
We would have liked to spent more time in Denali. A word of advice is to make your reservation early to camp at Denali. Also, make sure to travel south of Anchorage to Seward and take a day cruise around the Kenai Fjords.” – Janet and Jim Kaley, 2015 GMC 3500HD, 2015 Arctic Fox 992
“We would drive the Dempster Highway (not Alaska) again to Inuvik. You should now be able to drive out to Tuk. This was our favorite drive.
The Top of the World Highway would be our choice to get into Alaska, and then head to Fairbanks. On the peninsula we would go to Captain Cook State Park. On the way north, a stop at Liard Hot Springs. It’s a must.” – Eckhart Franz, 2006 Chevy 3500, 2005 Adventurer 90FWS
“Don’t spend much time in the large cities. The Alaska everyone wants to see is in the country side. We spent four months in Alaska, but next time we plan to spend more!
We purchased the “Great Alaskan Tour Saver Coupon Book” from a Safeway in Juneau, but you can also get it online for $100. This might seem pricey, but the two-for-one coupons on a $100 wildlife viewing cruise paid for it quickly. We would highly recommend that you buy the book, and do so before you get to Alaska so you can take full use of it.
We spent two weeks in Canada from Minot, North Dakota to Whitehorse, Yukon, and could have spent more. Stop and enjoy the hot springs along the way at Laird, British Columbia and Chena, Alaska north of Fairbanks.
I think our favorite trip was to Prudhoe Bay, but we only spent seven days. Next time we will plan on two weeks for this part of the trip. There is so much wildlife and scenery.
Also at Denali National Park, we camped for four days in the Teklanika River Campground. We would have spent more time, but our refrigerator quit and we were using ice.
We left through Chicken and Dawson City at the end of August and had great fall colors and northern lights. We took the Campbell Highway to Watson Lake and had fantastic colors all along the way.
We traveled south on Highway 37, Stewart Highway, and stopped at Hyder to see the bears. Don’t miss Salmon Glacier. There are not many bad places in Alaska, and never enough time.” – Russell Berquam, 2014 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1140
“Go up the Inside Passage on the Alaskan Marine Highway ferry system. Stop and visit wherever you want, camp a day or two, and then get back on the ferry and head to the next place.
If you really want to see lots of bears and a United States city that’s really off-the-grid, get off at Prince Rupert, British Columbia for a side trip. Go to Stewart, British Columbia where you’ll find a nice campground. Then plan a short trip over the border into Hyder, Alaska.
The forest service operates Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site just outside of Hyder. That’s a safe way to see lots of bears. After Hyder, we drove back to Prince Rupert, got on the next ferry, and took in the rest of the trip north.” – Craig Brooks, 2012 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2015 Arctic Fox 811
“We’d do nothing different. Toni and I have taken four different routes up to and back from Alaska from the northwest.
The traveling there is as much a part of the experience as being in Alaska. It is all wonderful, and creates lifelong memories.
Fall and Winter are my preferred times in Alaska. One of the best ways is to take the Alaska Marine Highway up to either Skagway or Haines, and then either the Cassiar, Alcan, or Dempster back down.
You should allow at least thirty days for the trip. If you take the Marine Highway, plan at least stops in Sitka and Juneau to camp, plus others of you choice. Some of our trips are on a long video on YouTube.
To get the best out of the trip, get off the main roads and explore.” – Don Wheat, Ford F250 and F350, 1990 to 2012 Alaskan Campers
“We would do much the same except skipping about 2,000 miles of dirt roads. Check out our article in TCM. Click on Arctic Fox at the bottom of the first page and go to 17,223 miles.” – Mike Herzfeldt, 2011 Silverado 3500, 2016 Host Mammoth
“We love Alaska and have made some great friends there. That said, do not miss the journey through the Canadian provinces. Experience the beauty of British Columbia; and the loneliness of the Cassiar Highway.
Time and again my husband, Pete, and I commented that we were so glad to be in a truck camper and not pulling a fifth wheel or trailer. The frost heaves come upon you so quickly and can be deadly on tires and underpinnings.
We drove the entire length of the Alaskan (ALCAN) Highway from Delta Junction, Alaska to Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Whitehorse, Yukon Territory is a must stop for supplies. We took the train from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Sitka, Alaska. Historic Dawson City, Yukon Territory is not to be missed, as well as the ferry ride over to the Top of the World Highway.
When we return next summer, we will drive north on the Dempsey Highway to view the land above the Arctic Circle. We also want to visit Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Don’t forget to stop and buy The Milepost magazine. The detailed information is so helpful on your journey.” – Linda Clark, 2008 Snowriver 102K
“The average coast for camping for 97 days was $6.47 per night. Our advice to all is don’t miss the chance of a lifetime. Do it while you can. Remember Adventure before Dementia. Have a great trip and take loads of photographs along your way.” – Holly and Dave Fox
“Everyone seems to look for different things in life, so one needs to keep an open mind. Ours was a 45 day trip,10,000 mile round trip from Wisconsin. I would highly recommend driving from Glacier National Park, to Waterton, to Banff, to Lake Louise, to Jasper. There is great camping all along the way. This is one of the best parts of the drive.
In my opinion, skip Prince Rupert. The other coastal cities are more interesting. Some have more to offer than others. We enjoyed the one day boat ride out of Haines up to Juneau, which included a nice stop for lunch also. I want to go back to Valdez and fish there more. The drive from Anchorage to Homer was really nice, but a lot of it is two lane highway and can get busy.
Finding nice camping was never a problem except for around Kenai during fishing time when the campgrounds are usually full. Make reservations ahead of time for the Kenai area. We met Tom and Linda there; what a wonderful couple.
In Seward, we enjoyed a one day boat trip. I highly recommend this.
I would definitely do the Chicken to Dawson to Whitehorse drive, but make sure the weather will be good for the Top of the World Highway. There is a small campground in a valley half way between Chicken and Dawson where we stayed. We were driving slow because of the dirt and gravel road, but it is a very driveable road. Plan to drive it slowly, and fill up on gas very often.
Take your time and enjoy the trip. If you want to take a long gun, make sure you register it at the border and pay the $35. Yes, I would do it again, but I would probably wait a year or two between trips.” – Thomas Bender, 2011 Ford F250, 2009 Sun Valley Apache Chief 8.65 WS
“We left Texas June 28, 2010, drove to southern California, then north through central Oregon, and into Washington. We crossed into Canada at Osoyoos and north to the Alcan highway.
I am fascinated with antique cars, motorcycles, and heavy machinery. A must see is Marl Brown antique garage (and articulating bicycle) in Fort Nelson, British Columbia.
In Fairbanks, Alaska, the Fountainhead Antique Car Museum has one-of-a-kind antique cars and several that were owned by celebrities. It’s an absolute must see for anyone who enjoys antique cars.
We enjoyed seeing (cloud covered) Mt McKinley. Leaving there, we heard there were more than 400 forest fires throughout British Columbia, and consequently the drive down the Cassiar Highway was smokey and mountain tops were obscured.
We arrived back in Texas September 3rd, and discovered that the truck camper we had purchased for the Alaska trip was the ideal way for us to travel.” – Paul Roberson, 2014 Ford F350, 1988 Lance 930
“We traveled to Alaska by land. The only thing I would do different is to spend more time in Canada than what we did (14 days).
Above: Hyder, Alaska harbor
We plan on going back in 2017.
Above: McLeese Lake, Canada
We would like to revisit some places like Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay and make more stops along the way. We want to explore some of the side roads and little villages that are just off the Dalton Road.
Above: Mantanuska Glacier, Alaska
Mantanuska Glacier would be a must re-visit. Being able to do a self-guided tour of this magnificent glacier and being able camp there is a huge plus. Going to Homer is on the next expedition to Alaska. On our first trip we only went as far south as Seward, Alaska.
Above: North of Salmon Glacier outside of Hyder, Alaska
I have an on-going trip report on RV.net that will include our adventure into Alaska.
Above: Bear Glacier, Steward, Canada
Bring plenty of battery power for your digital camera and memory cards for all those non-ending sights. You can contact me directly. Gordon and Angela can give you my email if you want more information.” – Alex Blasingame, 2007 Ford 250, 2002 Lance 815
“Two years ago, we spent five weeks in southern Alaska. We drove through Banff and Jasper Parks, and along the Alcan to Tok. Due to warm winters, the 80 mile section of the Alcan between Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory and the highway near Chicken, Alaska will be bad because of thawing permafrost. Slow down! Gravel fill repairs should be done by August.
We found really good campgrounds at Banff Park, Cottonwood Creek in southern Yukon Territory, and Matanuska borough park in Palmer, Alaska. The RV park at the edge of Haines, Alaska, and the city bayside park in Seward, Alaska are also good.
The commercial campgrounds anywhere near Denali are run down. The campgrounds in Valdez are parking lots with hookups. We found ourselves in a hazardous KOA campground west of Calgary. Its water supply was contaminated, but the warning signs were hidden.
Okay campgrounds were found elsewhere, but the ratings in the Good Sam book weren’t accurate. If you run across an Airstream or motorhome caravan, talk to them to learn their schedule so you can avoid them. If you share a campground with a caravan, you’ll get the tiny remote site.
Tourist towns include Seward, Skagway (owned by cruise ships), and Talkeetna (unashamed and fun). Buy fuel from stations whose brands you recognize from the lower 48. There’s a lot of poor quality fuel in rural Canada. Shell, Exxon, Chevron, etc. are good. PetroCanada has a poor reputation.
This summer we’ll take the Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham, Washington to Alaska so we can see the Inside Passage. The Alaska Marine Ferry will drop us off at each port for a few days and let us re-board to continue our Alaska trip.
We will drive up to the Kennicott Mine site, and hope to take a tour flight over the Wrangle-St. Elias Mountains. Denali is a matter of luck. Two years ago the mountain was visible only two days during the whole month of July. There is overnight camping in the park on a first come basis. There are no hookups, so a working generator is needed.
This year we will brave the Anchorage traffic to visit some of the museums there. Time permitting, we will leave the highway to see the Matanusca Glacier up close.
Homer and a repeat of Seward is on our to-visit list. Haines is an easy ferry boarding to get to Prince Rupert. Because of logging truck traffic, we will likely avoid driving through the Cassiar mountains again. When we drive back to the lower 48, we will go through Yoho Park, British Columbia, then Jasper and Banff. Two years ago, we stopped in many very nice little towns in British Columbia and found the tourism staff most helpful.
We located gasoline stations every 150 miles along our whole driving route with a Garmin GPS. We didn’t need them all, but they were mapped along our route.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050
“We went up on the Alaska Marine Highway from Prince Rupert to Haines and came back down on the Alacn. We are glad to have traveled the Marine Highway, but would likely choose land routes were we to do it again because of the expense. We got off in Petersburg, which we enjoyed, and Sitka.
Top of the World Highway was awesome! We would spend an extra night in Chicken because it was funky. We liked the Yukon on the other end of that highway and, while it isn’t Alaska, the Dempster Highway north to Inuvik was also a highlight last summer. We also liked the Haines area quite a bit.
We could be in the minority but we found Denali overrated and left early. We saw more on the mentioned highways which aren’t highways at all, but dirt and gravel roads with a lot of wildlife.” – Storm Morgan, 2015 Ford F350, 2014 Adventurer 89RB
“My wife and I have been to Alaska many times. Our daughter and family are off-grid dog musher types in Willow. Every aspect of Alaska has some interest or beauty to it. That’s the reason it is so popular.
Some tips are to make sure your tires (and spare) are in good condition and have a jack capable of lifting the truck and camper. A tire plug patch kit and small air compressor would be handy. Your shocks are definitely going to take a beating.
You will never forget the road from Whitehorse north to the border. The terms “frost heave” and “orange flags” will be embedded in your brain. Other than that, it’s an experience you’ll never forget, and you’ll probably want to do it more than once.” – Larry Goosey, 2007 Chevy 3500, 2005 Snowriver 9.5
“There is a TourAlaska coupon book that cost $100 back in 2009. It has a huge list of two-for-one deals. Some of the stuff we didn’t use, but it saved a lot of money on other things. I’m not sure where it is available anymore but it’s worth looking for!” – K. Newton, 2008 Chevy 3500, 2008 Lance 915
“Be sure and drive into McCarthy and across the Denali Highway. If you don’t mind more dirt, the haul road to the Arctic Ocean and a side trip to Manley are wonderful. I moved to Alaska in 1968 and still enjoy these drives.” – Paul Vick, 2011 Ram 2500, 1971 Alaskan
“I would drive the Alcan Highway from beginning to end again. Take a sign with you to put up at the Signpost Forest. I would go to Haines again and ride the ferry to Skagway. Drive all of the backroads you can like the trip to Chicken, Alaska. Go to gold mines, take a ride with a bush pilot, visit a Musk Ox farm, fish, hike, and plan on staying at least three months.” – Ron Tennyson, 2013 Ram 3500, 2014 Arctic Fox 865
“We were in Alaska from July 3rd, 2008 into October. We drove up the Cassiar Highway and loved it. It took almost three months to get to Chicken, Alaska from near Fresno, California. There was plenty to see and do along the way.
Chicken on the 4th of July was a hoot with my wife’s underwear shot out of a cannon because it was her first time in Chicken on the 4th of July. We took the Maritime Ferry from Haines to Port Henry with stops in Juneau, Sitka, and Wrangle. Due to the ferry schedule, we had six days in Wrangle – which was four days too long.
Our favorite things were camping in Denali for five days, day boat trips from Valdez, Homer and Whittier, camping at Dolly Varden Lake in the Kenai Peninsula, a float plane trip on Alaska West Air for bear viewing, staying in campgrounds in Haines (our favorite Alaskan city) and meeting so many friendly Alaskans.
When we return, we would do most things we did again. We did stay in White Horse for 21 days due to an engine fire, but had an electrical hookup at the garage and a salmon dinner at a local’s home. Luckily, a 1965 V6 engine has little to burn besides spark plug and coil wires. Check out our favorite trip photos from Haines.
I encourage others to go to Alaska in a truck camper rig. We had a 36-foot RV which we sold before the Alaska trip and were really happy we took our smaller truck camper instead.” – Mel Mashman, 1965 GMC, 1965 Open Road
“We are planning on taking our Lance 1172 to Alaska in 2017. Anyone want to travel together? We plan on arriving in Dawson Creek around May 10, 2017. We have a year to kick things around. We made this trip three years ago and spent the whole summer. Contact TCM and they’ll forward your information to us.” – Rich and Jane Gerber
“Hi, there campers! Well, we live in Matanuska Valley, Alaska. We have driven the Alcan and taken the camper all over, except the southeast, which we are doing that May 1st. You need the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to reach the Southeast, except for Haines. That is for another trip using the ferry system. We tell folks to drive up Alcan and take the ferry home, or vice-versa.
The ferry is expensive. However, after driving from the lower 48 and touring Alaska on the road system, you put thousands of miles on your truck. Most of the sights and towns are hundreds of miles apart, so you need time, lots of time.
As a side note, you can rent a motorhome and do some great sightseeing without worrying about driving all the way home. Fly up and spend more time in Alaska.
This summer is supposed to be very dry! There were big fires last summer and roads were closed for hours due to fire fighting. You need to be flexible with your time, and always expect some bumps in the road on your Alaska adventure. They might forbid campfires as well. There are more crowds in June through September.
We liked traveling in May because there is good weather, no tourists, and the animals are still down at lower elevations for pictures. Make sure to see Denali, (hope it will be clear, no clouds) and go to Talkeetna and go for a glacier landing with K-2 Aviation. You will not forget that experience!
Seward is a great town. Homer is another not to miss if you want to fish for halibut and a beautiful place. Fairbanks is nice, and still kind of the old Alaska, but changing with more shopping and buildings. Anchorage is just a nice city. You can walk around the sidewalks. There are lots of restaurants and tourists shops, but it can be crowded for lunch and dinner.
There is good camping in Valdez, and great fishing. You can see the oil pipeline and the big tankers there. I would skip Whittier, as there is not much there and weather can be rainy. Check out the Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood and take the tram up the mountain for dinner and a super view. Gas is cheaper and diesel is even cheaper, so it won’t hurt as much filling up with all the miles you’ll be putting on.
There are not many roads here so, to get away from the traffic, you need to fly out to see the Real Alaska. You will have so much to see and do that time and weather will be your only limits. Have fun and relax. Don’t hurry to see everything, because you can’t. That’s why we moved here!” – Rich Elmquist, 2008 Ford F450, 2008 Host Everest
“This response will not answer the question asked but, in the information we have read so far in this issue, we have not seen much written on safety issues. Maybe it is there and we have not thoroughly read all the information. If we have missed it, you can stop reading right here.
Plan your safety relative to medical emergencies, tires, radiator protection, fuel sources (and backup), safety relative to commercial trucks, grizzly bears, moose, and guns. Also, we would consider issues specific to the trip like border crossing, and water management (fresh, black, and grey).
We have traveled to Alaska, The Yukon, and Northwest Territories three times. Our son hauls fuel during the winter and summer between, Fairbanks, Valdez, and Haines, Alaska, Whitehorse, Yukon, and Dawson City, Yukon. Most travelers to The Yukon and Alaska are experienced travelers who have thought about and planned for their safety.
But some tourists or, as the truckers say, “summer terrorists”, have not thought about the fact that a trip to Alaska is not just like any other trip in the lower 48. Those who have not planned for these issues have at best very unpleasant experiences, and worst case have an experience that will change their life forever, and in not a positive way. Alaska and the Yukon are a great adventure, but carefully plan for your safety!” – Firman Schiebout, 2004 Ford F350, 2012 Northstar 9.5 Igloo U
Editor’s Note: Firman is right about preparation and safety considerations for any trip to Alaska. However, TCM has published extensively about traveling to Alaska, including detailed preparations and safety considerations. We highly recommend reading all of the articles in the Alaska section before going on a trip to The Last Frontier.
“A couple of things come to mind. First, we will not take the ferry again. The trip was a long slow one and only stops are tourist traps. That being said, we travel in a truck camper for access to what interests us. We found much more on the road on our return trip.
Second, we went two years ago and only spent six weeks. That was not nearly long enough! We are headed back this year mid-May until late August. That will not be long enough either, but it will have to do. Take the road less traveled and engage all the locals you can. They all have a story and we found them very helpful, very interesting, and friendly.” – Tom Elliott, 2007 Ram 2500, 1999 Lance 835
“I thoroughly enjoyed the “Journey to Alaska” article. We put 13,000 miles on our 50+ day trip to Alaska and some US national parks.
When my wife and I went there in a self built pop-up van is that we had Verizon cell service and were able to get a Canadian plan for $10/phone. We also used a hot spot in Alaska. It only worked around the large cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks. For WIFI, we used fast food restaurants, as much as possible, for internet. Keep up the good work!” – Richard Main
“We drove from Tennessee to Alaska in June and July of 2014 and returned from Haines on the ferry, with stops/stays in Juneau and Ketchikan before docking in Bellingham, Washington. We were gone 83 days, and drove 12,000 miles, plus about 1,200 on the ferry. On the ferry the food was good and at a reasonable cost. Fellow travelers were friendly.
There is so much to see, and so many decisions to make. Be sure and get The Milepost planner. The information and details make the decisions doable. We entered Canada west of Glacier Park, at Roosville, British Columbia. The customs time was much less than entering east of Glacier.
We are not big city enthusiasts, preferring smaller towns, and Forest Service or State Park campgrounds to sardine camping. Also, we left the Alaska Highway at Jasper and headed West on the Yellowhead Highway (16) toward Prince George. Then we went north on the Cassiar Highway (37) to Watson Lake, picking up the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse. Then we went on up to Dawson City and into Alaska on the Top of The World Highway. Then we dropped down through Chicken to the Alcan Highway and on to Fairbanks.
What we enjoyed most:
1. Icefield Parkway, south of Jasper: Be sure and stop for the day early, around 2:00 to 3:00 pm to ensure a site at the federal/state campgrounds. We have a collapsible cone and, after registering, we run a chain up through the cone and around the leg of the campsite table. This ensured others knew this site was taken when we took the truck camper and drove around sightseeing in the late afternoon and early evening.
2. Alaska Marine Highway ferry: We saw so much more than people on a cruise because ferries travel in narrow, shallow places. The ferry price depends upon length, vehicle and camper.
3. Top of the World Highway: Dawson City, Yukon, to Alaska. Do not drive if it is raining because the road gets too slippery. There is wonderful tundra scenery.
4. Entering the United States from Dawson City in mid-late June, check out the Chickenstock Music Festival in Chicken. Dry camp free with the price of Chickenstock tickets.
5. Back to Canada, take the Cassiar Highway (37), east of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, off of the Yellowhead Highway (16). Coming from the East on 16, slow down at New Hazelton and take 62 north across the river toward Old Town Hazelton. The Ksan Indian Village and Museum is worth stopping for.
6. Going north on 37, one comes to a left turn on 37A to Stewart, British Columbia, and Hyder, Alaska. We met another couple in a Class A who camped there at the 37/37A junction because they thought they could not get into Stewart with their rig. Not so. They dealt with terrible mosquitos while we did fine at the Bear River RV Park just as one enters Stewart.
If it is salmon-run time, one can see lots of bears eating salmon from a great viewing stand on Fish Creek. Drive through Stewart, through US customs into Hyder, Alaska, and on to Fish Creek. There were no salmon and no bears when we arrived so we took a winding, narrow road up to Salmon Glacier, deep in the mountains north of Hyder. Beautiful, but harrowing if one meets and must pass another vehicle. There were no tunnels and no overhead issues.
8. If you’re coming south after entry into Alaska, do not miss the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks. In Denali, camp as far into the park as you can drive. In Palmer there is fabulous scenery in Hatcher Pass just north of Palmer. You can dry camp at the parking areas overnight for $5.
At Cooper Landing and the Kenai River, camp with few mosquitoes just off Highway 1. Just north of where the Hope Highway (1) turns west, on the east of Highway 1, the Tenderfoot Creek USFS on upper Summit Lake is better than the crowds and mosquitoes around Cooper Landing. Good camp! In Seward camping on the water (sardine camping) is okay, and the facilities are sufficient.
We suggest avoiding Cooper Landing area at the Crescent Creek USFS (more mosquitoes than anywhere else). We also would avoid Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. The Downtown RV Park was sardine camping at its worst with insufficient working showers and toilets for the number of people packed in.
Before leaving, we made an extra mosquito screen for the inside of the camper door in addition to the regular screen door. In mosquito zones, we attached the additional screen in place with velcro. With just a slit on this additional screen to enter and exit, we had little problems with mosquitoes in places buzzing with them outside the camper. We also made blackout curtains for the windows and vents. Midnight sun bothers some.
Mike and Paula may contact us for additional information.” – Judy and Wallace Embry, 2014 Ford F350, 2004 Lance 1071
“On our first visit in 2003, we drove both ways. It’s a really long drive, but well worth the scenery. We entered Alaska over Top of the World Highway. It’s breathtaking. We drove to the Arctic Circle and wish we had driven all the way to the Arctic Ocean.
We would spend more time around Denali and Fairbanks. We loved the Kenai Peninsula and wished we had fished while we were in Homer. It’s a lovely fishing town. We should have also taken the ferry to Kodiak Island. I can’t think of anything we would have skipped.
We really enjoyed the train ride in Skagway. We drove home on the Cassiar Highway past the Canadian Icefields into Glacier National Park. Fantastic scenery.
In 2009, we took the Alaska Marine Highway ferry up the Inside Passage and stopped at Ketchikan, Wrangell, St. Petersburg, Juneau, and Haines enjoying the scenery. We spent days in each of the towns and drove a lot of the forest service roads. We loved that experience.
The ferry is a great way to get around. You drive your camping rig right onto the ferry. For example, we rode the ferry from Whittier to Valdez. It saved a ton of driving. It’s a little pricier than just driving, but saves a lot of time and gives you another view of the area. Plus, the towns we visited (except for Haines), are only accessible by boat or plane. Juneau has so much to offer.
Not to be missed are the boat trip to Sawyer Glacier and a helicopter ride over the ice fields. The chopper lands you on a glacier where you get to drive an authentic dog sled team! It’s a little pricey, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Many of the roads in Alaska are very rugged and having the truck camper made them passable. I couldn’t imagine doing the trip in a trailer or motorhome. Not only that, the smaller rig means a better chance of finding a campsite at the last minute because you don’t have the size restrictions.
I’d drive back to Alaska in a heartbeat. In spite of two trips of six weeks each, I feel like we have only scratched the surface up in Alaska.” – Shelley Pike, 2009 Ford F350, 2006 Lance Sportster
“We spent six weeks on the trip. That is not nearly enough, but it gives me reason to go back. I did not see anything that I would skip.
I want to spend more time in the Fairbanks area and plan enough time at Denali to spend a few days at the remote campground. Homer needs a few days if you intend to fish.
Mostly, just plan to go slow because there are things to see and do everywhere!” – Randall Rice, 2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD, 2002 Bigfoot 2500 10.6
“We pulled a 20-foot travel trailer to Alaska in 1971 and lived there for 37 years. We owned several other RVs, two of which were pickup campers. What you would want to see in Alaska would greatly depend on what you are interested in. There is so much to see and do.
In my case, fishing is the first thing on my mind. The Kenai peninsula is a must during June and July. The largest strain of King Chinook salmon in the world run up the Kenai river, along with a fantastic sockeye red run, and the silvers later on.
Native rainbow trout are there in abundance also. This river is all wild native fish. No hatcher fish are in this river. There are also other rivers and ocean fishing. Towns on the Kenai include Homer (end of the road) with great halibut fishing plus the salmon.
Seward during the silver salmon derby in August is a blast. I might add that there are plenty of fishing guides in the area at fairly decent prices. Competition is a great thing.
Valdez is another great fishing area. Silver fishing during the later part of the summer is superb. The drive to Valdez is half the fun. Stop at McCarthy and the Kennicott mine area on your way to Valdez. There is great history on the copper mines that used to be there.
One of my favorite spots in Alaska is the Denali Highway that stretches from Cantwell to Paxson. The 135 mile road is all gravel (take your time) but it stretches across some of the most scenic, and what I consider authentic, Alaska. There is a lot of wildlife on that road so make sure you have binoculars.
There is a lot of great hiking in Alaska. A place that is close to Eagle River is at the end of the Eagle River Valley road. Hiking is where you find it, and there are a lot of places to find it.
Hatcher Pass Road is a fun and scenic drive. If you have a large camper, take it off and just take the truck to be safe. Fairbanks is probably more Alaskan than Anchorage, but Anchorage is a beautiful place in the summer. The municipality does a great job with all the flower displays that they put up each summer. You might want to take a railroad trip to Fairbanks in one of their scenic cruiser cars.
Another thing you have to do is go to Dawson City in Yukon on your way to Alaska, or on your way back. There you will find gold rush history is at its best. A long side trip would be to Skagway where the gold seekers started in Alaska on their way to Dawson. A ride on the narrow gauge railroad is another great thing to do.
There is so much to see in this great state, so don’t cut yourself short on time. The whole summer would be a great timeline. You don’t have to worry about the roads and in Alaska or to and from Alaska. They have been improved greatly over the years. Another great thing about Alaska is that you can just about pull over anywhere you can find and set up camp.
I hope this helps. Have a great time. My wife and I moved out of there almost eight years ago, and plan on taking a trip back. I am sure there are things that we haven’t seen or would like to see or do again.” – David Donovan, 2007 Chevy 3500, 2012 Chalet TS116
“We like out of the way places so we would go all the way to Prudhoe Bay instead of stopping at the Arctic Circle. We would spend more time at McCarthy and go on to Valdez. We would like to do the Dempster Highway.
We liked Haines, Keno, Mayo, and Chicken. We missed Eagle, Citcle, China and Manley Hot Springs. We took the ferry from Haines to Skagway. We had to drive the Cassiar Highway both ways and really enjoyed it. It’s too much to do in one trip.” – Ted Berger, 2001 Dodge Ram, 2012 Northstar Laredo
“My first bit of advice is to slow down. Spend as much time as possible going to and from. Fuel is your major expense so, if you’re not driving, you’re not spending. Use every available excuse to stop and walk around. Go fishing, take too many pictures, and talk to other travelers.
See all the major attractions others recommend, but consider this one. First, read the book and or watch the video on ‘Alone in the Wilderness’. Then fly into Twin Lakes in Lake Clark National Park via Kenai Air. You’ll see more in a few hours than weeks on the road. For me it was beyond my wildest dream.
We spent six months on the road and, when we got home, we almost started out again. People may not understand, but Alaska is addictive.” – BW Gamsby, 2008 Tundra, 2008 Lance 825
“We have taken our Lance camper to Alaska twice already. What we did different the second time was taking the the camper on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Bellingham, Washington to Homer, Alaska. Then, we toured Alaska and drove back to the lower 48 spending time in the Yukon and British Columbia.
Don’t miss driving the Top of The World Highway from Tok, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Also, be sure to drive into Wrangell, St. Alias National Park and see Kennecott Copper Mine. Have fun!” – Bill Gahafer, 2008 Ford F450, 2001 Lance 1121
“Get the Alaska App. While it lead on us on a goose chase for a campground by Palmer, all in all, it was very helpful and more convenient than all the pamphlets.
At the visitor center in Soldotna, we met a character named Annie who wanted to set us up to see everything on the peninsula and love it like she did. She ran a company that offers wife tours while the husband is fishing, and custom tours for every interest.
Our trip was a slow wander from Anchorage up the Mat-Su to Glen Allen, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, McCarthy, Valdez, a short ferry ride to Whittier, to the Kenai Peninsula, and back to Anchorage via Wasilla in twelve days.
We enjoyed the slow pace and stopping to enjoy a coffee and anything that interested us. We started trails (see Alaska App) and turned around when we saw bear tracks, explored old deserted buildings, fish wheels and mining operations without the need to be somewhere for a reservation. If we did it again, we’d do the same pace in a different direction.
You should boondock on the side of a road at least once to say you did it. We stayed on the road into McCarthy. One car went by all night, and the scenery was spectacular. We had no campground reservations except in Anchorage and had primo campsites every night.
Be flexible. We debated a river or ocean fishing trip for months and never got a reservation made. River water was murky so we waited even after we got to Alaska to make reservations. We got in with a great guide two days out. It was all one could ask for on a river trip with bears, moose, and we even caught king salmon to keep and photograph.
We knew someone from the NATCOA forum was there when we were and we met up. It made a great evening together and we still correspond.
Take your time. You can’t see it all. Enjoy what you do see. We were impressed by how much internet service and NPR (Alaska Public Radio) we found in Alaska.” – Bonnie Pascucci, 2011 Chevy 3500, 2012 Adventurer 86FB
“We have really enjoyed many areas in Alaska. The difficult thing is to sort out what to recommend since we have found so much beauty and interesting places. I believe the important thing is to take time in general and be willing to go on backroads. Bring a Gazetteer.
We enjoyed the Kenai Peninsula, especially Homer and Seldovia. We enjoyed McCarthy and found the warnings about the road to be overrated. We enjoyed the Top of the World Highway. Be sure to stop in Chicken. The trip to Eagle was worth the drive. Central was a fun time. We have been there twice for the 4th of July parade.
We enjoyed Haines and Skagway. Both drives are gorgeous. The Denali Highway has some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen. On the way up, take time to explore around Kluane Lake. Also, although we have been up the Dalton, we found the Dempster Highway in Yukon and the Northwest Territories to be even more scenic and remote. I do understand that the road may be all the way open to Tuktoyaktuk this year.
After our first trip, we wanted to take more time in the Yukon as it was so beautiful . I don’t know much I would do differently except take more time and explore further.” – Steve Merrill, 2009 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2007 Lance 992
“We have been all over Alaska with a professionally guided tour in 2014, and had a great, stress-free time. Our favorite places to visit were Skagway, Valdez, and Homer.
It was so fun that we are going back in 2017 with all truck campers. Space is still available so email me through the contact us form on TCM for more information.” – Charles Coushaine, 2001 Ford F350, 2012 Chalet DS116RB
“We moved to Whitehorse, Yukon in the April 2004 in our old truck and camper. We immediately looked for an upgrade on our truck camper from Fraserway Whitehorse and still have that today. Every summer we planned a two week road trip on one of the different scenic routes in either Alaska or Yukon or both.
Our first summer was Whitehorse to Tok to Valdez to Anchorage to Homer to Denali to Tok to Whitehorse (AK Highway). Then Whitehorse to Dawson City to Chicken to Fairbanks to Tok to Whitehorse (Top of the World Highway). We also went from Whitehorse to Dawson City to Inuvik to Whitehorse (Dempster Highway) and Whitehorse to Skagway to Sitka to Petersburg to Ketchikan to Prince Rupert to Watson Lake to Whitehorse (Klondike Highway-Alaska Ferry System).
Every summer was an adventure. I would do them all again and hopefully one day we will. Give yourself lots of time. We spent ten to fourteen days on each one of these trips and still ran out of time as there is so much to see and do. If you are planning on going up the Dempster Highway or Dalton in Alaska for that matter, ensure that you take along a second spare tire.
Boondocking is not an issue unless you are near a town or city. Don’t be afraid to pull over in an old gravel quarry near any river or an approach to any lake or even the side of the highway. Just make sure you clean up your campsite to avoid animals, especially brown bears. If you are going to be in the Yukon for more than four nights, stop at the tourism bureau in Watson Lake and buy a Territorial Campground pass for $50, as campgrounds in the Yukon are $12 per night including wood. They are austere (pit toilets, picnic tables and fire pits) but are usually in great locations and very clean. If you are camping in town along with the big rig RVs pull up to the view. In Valdez and Homer we had beachfront campsites all to ourselves.
If you have extra time or are more adventurous you can complete one of the local back roads in the Yukon (CANOL Road – North and South, Campbell Highway, Aishihik Lake Road). If you do this, just make sure that you are set up to fix any problems you may have on your own. It is a long way back to civilization and these roads are not maintained in some cases.
Enjoy the fishing, photography and history. I would do everything again, but with even more time. Don’t miss Skagway and Dawson City to get a feel for the Klondike Gold Rush from both perspectives. Ride the White Pass and Yukon Railway from Skagway to Bennett and return. Take the bus tour of Denali National Park. Go salmon fishing on the Chilkoot River in Haines, Alaska and Halibut fishing in Homer, Alaska.
Most important of all is get yourself a copy of The Milepost, The Bible of the North. Even if you can’t stop to read the historic sign on the side of the road, your navigator can read you the citation as you drive by. It also tells you every pull off, campground, creek and lookout by miles and kilometers.
Alas, after four winters in the Yukon it was time to come home to Calgary, Alberta as it was just too dark and sometimes too cold (-46C). We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the north and we hope to go back and do it all again soon.” – Steven Gasser, 2013 Ram 3500, 2003 Adventurer 90FWS
“We live in Alaska and our camper is winterized there until we drive it back out in a year or so. You must visit Denali National Park (make reservations in advance and stay in the Riley Creek Campground there). The Kenai Peninsula is great – Seward and Homer for sure and Seward has a great city campground.
In Homer, we always stay at the end of the spit in a beachfront at a no hook-ups site, and take the drive to Fairbanks by way of the Richardson and Glenn Highways. You can toss in Valdez and McCarthy if you’re adventurous and have the time.
Two Alaska trips I think are extra special are Chena Hot Springs and the Denali Highway. Chena is about 60 miles east of Fairbanks and has some beautiful wooded camping spots for smaller RVs and a huge parking lot for the diesel pushers. Obviously try to reserve one of the wooded, creek side spaces. The entire operation there is amazing and they give tours of the thermal facility.
The Denali Highway is 125 miles of some of the most gorgeous backcountry you’ll ever find. The two-lane gravel highway runs from Paxson on the Richardson Highway to Cantwell on the Parks Highway. This is not for the faint-of-heart! Flat tires are common, so be prepared. But you can pull off and park pretty much anywhere and spend the night. It’s a two-day round trip from Anchorage/Mat-Su Valley and we do it almost every summer. Try not to go during hunting season in mid-late August or you won’t see any wildlife.
My own opinion about the Haul Road/Dalton Highway is to only do it if you absolutely, positively must say you’ve driven above the Arctic Circle. It is a literal haul road for the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay and the traffic is large semi-trucks going very fast on a gravel road. You’re likely to have windshield/headlights broken by the flying rocks, and there’s no tourist type facilities once you arrive in Deadhorse. There is a hotel and general store, but you cannot tour the oilfields. All you can do is turn around and go back.
Personally, neither my husband nor I have driven it and never will (he works up there and sees it all the time!). But I have a close friend who drove it once as a passenger with a truck driver and she said it was a kick in the pants. There is so much to see on the road system without that side trip that I wouldn’t endanger my vehicle. The Denali Highway is enough true backcountry for us and we drive it almost every year because it’s so beautiful.
And lastly, the Alaska Milepost is a must. We carry one in our rig all the time, and we pretty much know the area. Have a wonderful time!” – Sherri and Bruce Weiler, 2010 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, 2012 Arctic Fox 811