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Author Topic: Heading to Alaska and have a few questions  (Read 2104 times)


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Heading to Alaska and have a few questions
« on: February 03, 2014, 08:54:00 AM »
Making the trip to Alaska this year.  Worked there three years, vacationed there twice, but never drove there so going to get that done this year.  Just have a couple of questions for you veterans.  What is be best time of summer to cross into Canada? Hear the permafrost can be a problems if you go too early.  Planning on taking my time so not on any specific schedule.  How tough is the customs folks at the border crossing?  Yes, I am one of the crazy gun nuts from the South and like to travel with protection close by.  But hear that could be a problem sometimes in Canada even if you are licensed back home.  Am told they use gun sniffing dogs and all sorts of other horror stories in Canada.  Last question, is it necessary to make reservations for camp grounds along the way.  If you are not on a schedule seems that could be a problem. 
Randy & Lynne
2006 Allegro Bus
2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Oscar Mike

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Re: Heading to Alaska and have a few questions
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2014, 09:18:17 AM »
Do NOT cross into Canada with a handgun and make certain that you declare your shotguns, long guns, etc. It will ruin your day/week/month if you try to get a gun into Canada without the proper approvals.


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Re: Heading to Alaska and have a few questions
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2014, 09:24:26 AM »
I would recommend that you read several (as many as you can) logs in this section from those who have "been there-done that".  I posted a log for 2012 and so did "Sarge".  Then Henry W. went last year and kept us updated on how everything went.  Then there are Betty Brewer's log, along with, Ardra and lots of others who went years before.  You'll get many of your questions answered by reading.

No guns are allowed in Canada.  However, you can get a "long" gun permit by filling out/completing a form and jumping through the hoops.  We left our guns at home. 

If you go to the Canadian Customs website you will find most of the official/correct answers; but even that can be confusing. If you rely on hearsay, often times that's wrong or outdated and gets even more confusing.


2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.


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    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Heading to Alaska and have a few questions
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 09:26:56 AM »
I hope I can answer some of your questions...

GUNS - Do NOT even attempt to take a handgun into Canada - Long guns can be taken but is a paperwork nightmare...so I left everything at my good friends in Montana and avoided the problem entirely, well almost entirely, when I hit the border they asked where I was headed, I am an Alaska resident, so I said home...they then asked my occupation and I said fishing guide, that brought on a long discussion about firearms and they could not believe I was unarmed....BTW - my old Florida Concealed Weapons Permit showed up on their computer, which enhanced the discussion. I explained that my guns were at my home in Alaska and that finally satisfied them...I was prepared for a detailed search of the RV, but they told me to drive on, so all was good. They also asked about ammunition since they know that there is a shortage in Alaska and could not believe I was not taking additional ammunition home to Alaska...

Time of travel - well my job required me to be there early so I was on the road in April and crossed the border on April 25th - which I will admit is too early to be traveling up there. I was lucky and only got snowed in twice, but made a couple hairy days of travel on snow packed roads in 4 wheel drive, which is not my preference. The downside is potential for bad weather and almost NOTHING is open along the way. Depending on your fuel consumption it is wise to carry 100 miles worth of fuel - gas or diesel....you figure out how much to carry based on your mileage and total size of your tank...but early in the season there are many spots where you will be 250-350 miles between fuel stops....I stretched it once and stopped at two scheduled fuel stops only to find them both closed and out of gas...luckily a generous Canadian sold me 10 gallons he had in two 5 gallon containers in his truck and the next stop I bought two myself and filled them and used them twice during my travels....

Frost Heaves - Plan on road damage any time of the year but in some ways earlier was a little better the potholes were filled with snow and ice...they are well marked for the most part with orange cones - see cones, slow down...see cones and a warning sign, slow WAY down...there were sections of my travels both going up and returning in August where I averaged less than 30 miles per hour and I saw at least 4 different travel trailers and 5th wheels with broken axles...all easily preventable by being aware and slowing down!!

Oh and I don't care when you go, it will be hard on your rig and it will be filthy when you get there. Most RV Parks in Canada and Alaska do NOT have full hookups - usually electric and water only, though most have a dump station, but rarely sewer hookups at your site....

It is a trip worth taking for sure, just plan well and take your time and carry fuel....

Good Luck,

Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

Travel Blog: http://captjimtravelblog.blogspot.com

Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

Photo Site: http://captjim.smugmug.com/

Jeff and Anita

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  • Hello from Oceanside CA!
Re: Heading to Alaska and have a few questions
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2014, 09:45:37 AM »
We went to AK several years ago. We made reservations for campgrounds in advance. However, it wasn't necessary. Hoping to go back someday and will not be making any reservations. Purchase the Milepost Guide for AK. Lots of invaluable information. Yes, slow down on roads. Lots of potholes. We also saw broken axles along the way. We also carried two spare tires for our trailer and extra fuel. Never needed them but it was nice to know they were there. Also had a grill guard for our truck. Covered it with dog proof screen door material.

Met a BLM Ranger from California that had his gun sent to him in AK.

2014 Winnebago Sightseer 33C
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Re: Heading to Alaska and have a few questions
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2014, 02:57:34 PM »
Randy…You will have a FABULOUS trip!  Here are a few answers based on our experiences in summer 2013…116 days on the road in our itasca Reyo. Loved every minute of the trip!
-- Best time of summer to cross into Canada? From what we heard, anytime! We crossed at a small border crossing northeast of Glacier Natl Park, on Hwy 89. Crossing was a cinch. No slowdowns, boarder crossing guards were very courteous, speedy. We did NOT take a gun with us, specifically because we did not want to have to go through the rigamarole of inceptions etc regarding firearms. We never felt as if we should have a gun for protection, either. Felt perfectly safe at all times without one.
--permafrost can be a problem if you go too early? Permafrost can be a problem any time of the year…permafrost really never melts, but things can get very muddy if you plan to take unpaved roads when the surface heat creates a lot of moisture in June-July. In early June the only way to avoid permafrost problems is to proceed fairly slowly so you don't hit the road-heaves while going too fast. We avoided unpaved roads…we didn't end up feeling we missed a lot, either. We had friends a few days ahead of us who sent email warnings of road paving projects (i.e. a lot of tar on vehicles!!) that we avoided north of Tok, as well as extremely muddy conditions that caused us to decide NOT to go to Dawson City. The roads were really terrible up there, with some closures, at the time we would've been going there last year.
-- tough customs folks at border crossing? We are scrupulously honest and forthcoming about everything, and had no problems at all. We did have bear spray with us going into Canada, which we'd been told would be confiscated at the Canadian border and/or going into Alaska. It wasn't. So we didn't need to replace it once we got into Canada and then into Alaska. We've heard from many friends who have taken guns to Alaska that if you don't try to be a smart aleck, you're fine, and the boards will be quite respectful and accommodating. You get irritated, act nasty, so do they!
--necessary to make reservations for camp grounds along the way?? If you're flexible and don't need to stick to a schedule, you're probably just fine.  We definitely wanted to stay right downtown in Anchorage, so we reserved there…so we could walk everywhere from our CG. We like cities a lot, but only if we can park and walk…didn't want to be driving a lot.  We reserved on Homer spit very early…probably would't have had to, but we faced the water and loved our spot, which we wouldn't have been able to get had we not reserved ahead. Yes, there re lots of CGs, but a good many CGs and gas stations have closed in recent years during the economic meltdown…so I was happy to have reservations in places where we really knew when we would be there and exactly where we wanted to stay.  We often changed our itinerary on a moment's notice because we wanted to stay somewhere longer, or wanted to add another spot to our plan…had no problem altering our CG plans.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO