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Author Topic: Condition of the Top of the World highway?  (Read 10342 times)

SargeW

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Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« on: June 29, 2012, 02:59:02 PM »
We are debating weather to take the Top of the World highway on our way into Alaska. Our neighbor in the RV Park we are in advised against it saying that it was a dirt gravel road. However he has not been on it since 2008. Does anyone have any recent experience with that road?
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Tom and Margi

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2012, 03:31:23 PM »
We questioned people coming off the Top of the World in 2000 and heard everything from "it's wonderful" to "I'll never do THAT again!" from people crossing it on the same day.  Timid travelers seemed to hate it and adventuresome travelers seem to love it.
 
We loved it.  If the weather cooperates, the views are breathtaking.  Even if you have to go slow, it's a once in a lifetime thrill just to say you've done it.
 
Margi

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2012, 04:26:53 PM »
I drove it in 2009.  I thought it was one of the best parts of the trip.  It is dirt and gravel, but it was relatively smooth.
Bill
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Betty Brewer

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2012, 05:12:41 PM »
The  only time I recall gasping was when we met a tour bus filled with Cruise ship passengers  coming up a hill from around the corner we were going down.  It was in 2006 and  a wonderful adventure. 

I have no idea how the  road condition is for you now but as Margi says ask 3 people, get 3 different  opinions.

We found one reliable source of information on roads  to be truckers at fuel stops.  If they were coming from the direction we were heading we found their reports to be  pretty accurate.  I don't know how many trucks go over Top Of World however?

Terry says he thinks you should do every road in Alaska while you are up there! Chicken was one of my most favorite little villages. 
Betty Brewer

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2012, 05:25:34 PM »
Top of the World Is a dirt road and highway conditions vary with the weather and recent traffic. No way to predict, but you could ask local residents in Tok or Dawson City (depending on which way your are headed).

As has already been said, it depends mostly on how adventuresome you are. It's the shortest and most interesting route between Tok and Dawson City, but if you don't plan in visiting Dawson City anyway, it is just a risky detour. (BTW, we loved our visit to Dawson City too).,

Chicken, Alaska, at the start of the highway on the Alaska end is another place to love or hate. One store, one diner, a dozen residents and a wealth of stories to be told.
Gary
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SargeW

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2012, 06:23:40 PM »
Good info folks, thanks. I will try to seek out some local info as well.
Marty--
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Terry A. Brewer

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 07:37:12 PM »
While you are in Dawson City take a couple of days & drive the Dempster Hwy to Inuvik in your Jeep. Then if your lucky you can catch a plane to Tuktoyaktuk & dip your toes in the Beaufort sea.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2012, 08:01:55 PM »
I should ad that our trip over the TOW hwy was pleasant and uneventful. Tok residents advised the road should be in good shape - it has been dry for a couple weeks and then a moderate rain had fallen, which they said would "keep the dust down". They all advised "don't drive if it is rainy" and "don't drive if it is too dry". Finding the in-between is the challenge.

And the road is narrow and rutted, so keep the speed down and be cautious of any oncoming vehicles. Going off the road is not something to be contemplated.
Gary
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mrschwarz

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2012, 10:10:30 PM »
We were on the TOW last week. If they spend some money on the US side, they could turn it into a cow path from a goat path. If you're in Dawson City and need to get into Alaska, it's an OK way to do it. A pot inside a drawer in the kitchen had dirt in it. Everything in the coach, both inside and out had dirt in it. We're still finding dirt.

The scenery is nice, but there is nothing special enough to make it worth doing it. It's a narrow, dirt road. Don't take it if you don't need to. If you do, plan on spending a week or so cleaning.
Michael

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Ned

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2012, 10:26:56 PM »
If it's dry, it will be dust.  If it's raining, it will be muddy.  When we drove it in 2006 it was mostly raining and it took a lot of pressure washing in Tok to get the mud off the coach and car.  But it's a beautiful drive, especially if it's clear.  The only problem we had was when we overtook a few Cruise America rentals that had knocked mirrors and had stopped on the road to discuss it.  We made it around but we were awfully close to the edge of the road.  It was exciting for a few minutes :)

Here's what Russ' and our rigs looked like at Chicken.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Tom and Margi

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 10:40:16 PM »
Ned is right!  I'd forgotten the dust.  (Translate to mud if it's raining.)  Took me a while when we reached Tok to vacuum out the toad.  We had beautiful weather, but after arriving in Tok we could see only black clouds over the Top of the World. 
 
Still ... you gotta do it, right?  It's worth whatever just to gain the bragging rights.  ;D
 
Margi

Marsha/CA

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2012, 10:46:34 PM »
Marty, we are not doing the Top of the World highway.  Instead we are parking the coach near Tok and driving the tow car 60 some miles up to Chicken and back just to say we've been there. 

Mrschwartz, where are you guys?

Also, we heard on the news last night that in Homer they were worried about the Halibut that have been caught lately.  Apparently the ones they are catching are more yellow colored and when you cook them, the steaks turn to an oatmeal consistency.  Anybody heard anything about that report?

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mrschwarz

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2012, 11:09:33 PM »
Marty, we are not doing the Top of the World highway.  Instead we are parking the coach near Tok and driving the tow car 60 some miles up to Chicken and back just to say we've been there. 

Mrschwartz, where are you guys?

Also, we heard on the news last night that in Homer they were worried about the Halibut that have been caught lately.  Apparently the ones they are catching are more yellow colored and when you cook them, the steaks turn to an oatmeal consistency.  Anybody heard anything about that report?

Marsha~

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Frank Hurst

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2012, 11:35:39 PM »
Ned,
Your motorhome looked great. We went over the "Top" in 2001 and our MH & car was so muddy that the people in Tok were taking bets as to what kind of car we were towing. It was raining like crazy. Still, I would do it again.

Frank
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SargeW

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2012, 12:45:09 AM »
Instead we are parking the coach near Tok and driving the tow car 60 some miles up to Chicken and back just to say we've been there.

I don't know Marsha, that is starting to make a lot of sense!

If you do, plan on spending a week or so cleaning.

Man, that's all I have been doing since I hit BC.................
Marty--
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Ned

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2012, 07:13:41 AM »
When we got to Tok, there was a gas station with 2 do it yourself pressure washing stations, $3 for about 10-15 minutes of use including soap.  It took $6 to get the motorhome somewhat clean.  Russ washed his at the other washer at the same time.  At the west end of town another station was giving free do it yourself pressure washes with any fill up  so we filled the car and washed it there.  That took about a half hour :)
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SargeW

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2012, 09:31:49 AM »
Well the votes are in! I will do what Marsha is doing, finding a place to leave the coach and drive up there in the Jeep. That's what I bought the Jeep for, not this condo on wheels!
Marty--
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2012, 10:38:47 AM »
The Taylor Highway from the Alaska Hwy up to Chicken is well-paved and normally excellent for most of its length. Of course, any highway in Alaska can get washed out or suffer a frost heave, but the Taylor is normally one of the better ones. However, once you pass milepost 64 near Chicken, it turns to gravel  (but you are almost in Chicken then).

Taylor Highway brochure and map:

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ak/aktest/brochures.Par.71908.File.dat/Taylor_Highway_brochure.pdf

We stayed overnight at the West Fork campground (MP 49) on the river - no hook-ups but very pleasant. An easy jaunt by car to Chicken from there.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 10:41:15 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
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Ken & Sheila

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2012, 10:54:12 AM »
Next trip I will do the Top of the World Hwy again. It wasn't paved at all when we drove it. But then we actually didn't drive it in the motorhome from Chicken to Tok, we were towed in at 10PM at night arriving in Tok at 1AM. I had driven the car from Chicken to Tok to call CoachNet who in turn called Willards Towing in the building next to were I was calling from! I hope to drive the entire road in the motorhome next time. The Canada side of the road was in great shape the day we drove it, but then we had very little rain on our trip.

ken
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BigLarry

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2012, 09:34:43 PM »
We made it fine when we drove over it in 2010.  Dusty and somewhat rough, but OK.  If its raining, you'll spend some time cleaning the rig, but probably not much more than one of the many hwy projects you'll drive through on the rest of the trip.  We spent a couple nights in Chicken and took some time and drove to Eagle.  Very interesting, beautiful trip.  In 2009 a flood of ice during the spring ice breakup destroyed most of the waterfront.  The NPS Ranger Station has a good set of pictures documenting the event.

If driving through some mud isn't your thing, you might wait a day or two for better weather.  We really enjoyed the trip and will do it again when we get up there next.
Larry and Betty
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SargeW

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2012, 09:43:07 PM »
Yeah, I'm going to follow Marsha's lead. I will camp nearby and Jeep the road to see the sights. I don't need that kind of adventure to make my trip complete. Different strokes!
Marty--
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ArdraF

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2012, 09:47:48 PM »
We've driven the entire Top of the World Highway twice and didn't see much either time because of weather.

ArdraF
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2012, 12:25:06 PM »
We had a stroke of luck when we did the TOW. We were in Tok for a few days and chatting with a local employee at the campground. Mentioned being unsure about  the TOW and she said "Now would be a great time to go - we had rain a couple days ago  but it's bright and clear now, so should be in good shape and splendid views". So we left the next a.m. and it was everything she forecast. And it was late very August, so we met only two cars coming the opposite way.  Dust no worse than any of several other roads and less than the Richardson Hwy over Thompson Pass to Valdez.
Gary
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hehbr

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2013, 09:00:01 PM »
Leaving Tok and heading toward Dawson City, how much of the road is paved and how much is dirt?

mrschwarz

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2013, 11:00:04 PM »
The road is paved from Tok to Chicken. From Chicken to the Canadian border is almost 2 lanes wide of dirt. It's paved from the Canadian border to the ferry to Dawson City. We did it in a motor home. I wouldn't do it again. I can still hear my wife screaming 'SOFT SHOULDERS!'
Michael

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Marsha/CA

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2013, 11:10:04 PM »
And I can still remember the report of 4 large motor homes that went off the side of the road; falling 300-400' down.

Marsha~
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Condition of the Top of the World highway?
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2013, 08:28:50 AM »
We took our 36 ft motorhome over TOW, traveling with another motorhome as well. Weather was fine and the road dusty but excellent condition. That can change in a few hours, though, if it rains or snows. Best to ask the locals in Tok about expected conditions given the recent weather at the time you depart. It's not a route you want to take in a coach or large trailer if the road conditions are poor anything but excellent.

The drive up to Chicken via the Taylor Highway is nicely paved and normally in excellent condition. The TOW itself, from Chicken over to the Yukon River ferry crossing, is basically just sand and subject to ruts and washouts. Also not a pleasant place to meet another big rig, since it isn't really wide enough to pass easily.

Some people find the ferry across the Yukon to be terrifying as well. It's a swift river and a small ferry.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 08:30:32 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
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