Alaska Clockwise or Counterclockwise?

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Just Lou

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Here's the deal

Observation #1

I've read a load of Alaska trip logs/reports over the last few months and it seems that the majority of folks (RV'rs) do the Alaska tour in a counterclockwise direction. i.e. (Dawson City, YT, Top-of-the-world hw'y, chicken, Tok, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Kenai peninsula, Valdez, Haines or Skagway and back to the lower 48 via ferry or highway)? Their trip purpose or theme may vary widely but most visit the same places and see and do the same things.?

Observation #2

I stumbled upon a site the other day consisting of a series of yearly trip logs by a couple who have made the Alaska "tour" every spring/summer for business related reasons for many years.? Their preference and suggestion was to reverse the direction and proceed in a clockwise direction for the following stated reasons.

Their observation was that approaching Denali from the south, rather than from the north, (from Anchorage rather than from Fairbanks) provided many more quality opportunities to view the Great Mountain.
They made similar observations about views along the Glen Highway, i.e. they preferred traveling east-to-west v/s west-to-east.? (something about sunsets. etc..)

Question?? Do any of you......

Have an opinion?

Share this opinion?

I'm thinking of adopting a modified version of the two.? (a figure 8)? i.e.(enter via TOTW highway, Tok, Chitina, Valdez, Palmer, Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Kenai, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Haines, Skagway via ferry, Cassiar highway to Stewart/Hyder and out)......

ideas?? ?lou
 

rhmahoney

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Your plan has merit, especially the Cassiar highway to Stewart/Hyder last. The bear viewing at Hyder is said to be best in August.
 

Jim Dick

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Lou,

If you are planning on taking the ferry a former member made a good statement. Take it north and drive back. The reason is you might find some areas where you will want to spend more time. With ferry reservations you must be at the dock on time. This could add some disappointment to your trip if you have to leave an area earlier than you wish.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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We went more or less clockwise - up the Casiar, then Haines-Valdez-Anchorage-Homer-Anchorage etc. Looped up to Chicken from Tok and over TOTW to Dawson on the way back in September.  We didn't ferry - went back down the Casiar and stopped at Hyder again.  Bear viewing much better on the second stop because salmon were running in the streams. However, the numerous water falls along the Stewart Hwy & Salmon Glacier road were much more spectacular in the spring.  What can I say - each route has its best times.

Since you are going to back track on many of the major highways anyway, you will see most of them coming and going. Probably not Denali, though, since that is one of the places you can actually come from one direction and then continue on to the next destination without back-tracking.
 

JerArdra

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OnaQuest,

We did it counter clockwise twice because we took the Alaskan ferry from Prince Rupert, BC to Skagway, AK then drive to Dawsonson City, YT and so forth counter clockwise.  Then we drove the Alaskan Hwy back to the lower 48.  The ferry trip is just like a cruise with your own private cabin.  We left at 10am on a Saturday morning and arrived at Skagway by 9pm Sunday evening so we could see all the great sites along the inland passage.  Check with the Alaskan Ferry system for prices and times.  It's the trip of a lifetime!

JerryF
 

Carl L

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I'm thinking of adopting a modified version of the two.  (a figure  i.e.(enter via TOTW highway, Tok, Chitina, Valdez, Palmer, Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Kenai, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Haines, Skagway via ferry, Cassiar highway to Stewart/Hyder and out)......

First of all, Mt. McKinley is visible from Fairbanks and from Anchorage -- in the winter.  The rest of the year the hill has its head in the haze and clouds.  The only guaranteed sighting, except from the air, is from Wonder Lake.  That is where all those shots of the great 18,000 foot North Wall are taken from.    Wonder Lake is accessible only by a park bus at the end of an 5 hour drive -- at 25 mph.  There is one lodge there, at Kantishna, and one only -- The Denali Backcountry Lodge.  http://www.denalilodge.com/.  Reservations are essential and if you move now, you may be able to get some.  Otherwise, a 10-hour plus bus trip is the other option.  Worth it in my opinion.

On the run from Tok to Chitna, you might want to spare a look-see for the Wrangell-St. Elias NP -- the largest collection of 16,000 footers on the continent.  It is so wild that it is the only NP in the land that permits carrying of firearms.  Has an active volcano too. 

Your itinerary has you doubling back from Valdez to get to Anchorage.  If so, I would recommend omitting Valdez, nice town but not worth the loop back.  On the other hand, if you take an Alaskan Ferry from Valdez to Seward you have stumbled upon a gem.  It is a mini-Inside Passage tour taking about 12 hours.    There are size limits on RVs so check out the state ferry site.    From Seward, a tour of Kenai and then to Achorage.  BTW Anchorage will not be the high point of your trip.  The city is scenic only when the Chugach Mts. are snow covered. 

 

Just Lou

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Thanks to everyone for your input.

Carl, you are right about the doubling back from Valdez but I've heard that the drive in and out is worth it.? I guess I'll just have to see.? Maybe a few days fishing there will ease the pain.? I can't seem to come up with a plan (short of the ferry option with it's added expense) that would eliminate some retracing of routes.? I also agree that Anchorage, other than a convenient place for stocking up on supplies, is only a necessary intersection of highways to get on and off the kenai.

However, at this point in my planning, I'm not yet prepared to start eliminating places to visit.? I don't mean to sound fatalistic, but as someone who has endured three heart attacks, two open heart surgeries (quad bypasses 1991 & 2000), and one cardiac arrest (thank the Good Lord the jumper cables were still installed from the latest operation), I may never pass this way again.? I wouldn't want to die saying that my only mistake on this trip was that I saw "too much" of Alaska.? That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

I still have both the clockwise and counterclockwise trips in my MS streets and Maps, CoPilot and Excel spreadsheet planners.? I'll make that decision when I have to.? As for now I'm gathering all the input I can for this dream trip and I thank you folks for offering it.

I plan to leave North Carolina about the first of June '06 and don't need to be back before the end of August.? Slow and easy is the name of the game.? I'd like to hear of the trip plans of others as time goes by and have no problem sharing mine.?

thanks again, lou
 

Carl L

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? Maybe a few days fishing there will ease the pain.? I can't seem to come up with a plan (short of the ferry option with it's added expense) that would eliminate some retracing of routes.
?

Take another look at that ferry option.? ?As I said, it is a mini-Inside Passage cruise down Resurrection Bay.? ? As far as the expense is concerned, gasoline is not free either.? There is definitely an offset there.? ?I have done the drive (2003) and it is OK but not a memory of the lifetime.
 

Chet18013

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Do it whichever way you feel like. It's still Alaska. We went up the Alaska Hwy, did the clockwise tour around the state--spent July 4th in Seward, this is a must-- and came back the Cassiar.  We're going back again and will reverse the direction to see what we missed the first time.

Chet18013
 

Terry A. Brewer

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Lou

>> I'd like to hear of the trip plans of others as time goes by and have no problem sharing mine. <<

If you see two Country Coach Magna's one towing a white Jeep the other towing a beige GMC Envoy...flag us down as we will be traveling the area from the end of May until Aug/Sept or whenever we get tired.<G> Maybe we will even swing over to Victoria Island at the end to recuperate.

 

Monty

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Would really appreciate some help on the Alaska experience. I am looking at the ferry service and see where there is no access allowed to your RV - this means booking a cabin which is expensive and kinda takes some of the enjoyment out of the experience. On the other hand I have seen messages where people did indeed use their RV. Are there multiple ferry companies with different rules? I am really confused by all of this and would like clarification if at all possible.
 

Alaskansnowbirds

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Monty said:
Would really appreciate some help on the Alaska experience. I am looking at the ferry service and see where there is no access allowed to your RV - this means booking a cabin which is expensive and kinda takes some of the enjoyment out of the experience. On the other hand I have seen messages where people did indeed use their RV. Are there multiple ferry companies with different rules? I am really confused by all of this and would like clarification if at all possible.

Monty,

The Alaska Marine Highway System (run by the state of Alaska) does NOT allow you to occupy your vehicle while underway. There are several times each day (when they announce) that you can go to your vehicle to get things or put things back or check and attend to pets. I don't know of any other ferries operating in Alaska other than the one run by the state.

Not sure what enjoyment would be taken out of your experience by not being able to stay in your vehicle. The vehicles are below decks so if you were allowed to be there your couldn't see anything. If you don't want to book a cabin, most of the ferries have a public area where you can throw down your bed roll and sleep. One must remember that the AMHS is first a public transportation system for the southeast just like the rail system in the U.S. northeast. The greatest majority of their passengers aren't going more than one or two stops.

Being from Alaska I have traveled on the ferries many times and spend most of the time in one of the observation lounges.

Don
 

Tom

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AlGriefer said:
What about you and Chris?

It's definitely on my dream-about list Al, but I have to admit to blowing hot and cold about it. I've read lots of great stories, but have also read a few horror stories. When we stayed at Pacific Shores in Newport, OR I talked with a guy who had just returned from Alaska. He said he broke the tow bar and damaged his coach, but he still recommended the trip.

We have a few Alaska trip reports from folks in our library - click the Library button above and select Trip reports.

BTW there's a group of forumites going up right after the Moab rally. I just need to convince the captain to skip boating for a few months.
 

AlGriefer

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Tom said:
It's definitely on my dream-about list Al, but I have to admit to blowing hot and cold about it. I've read lots of great stories, but have also read a few horror stories. When we stayed at Pacific Shores in Newport, OR I talked with a guy who had just returned from Alaska. He said he broke the tow bar and damaged his coach, but he still recommended the trip.

We have a few Alaska trip reports from folks in our library - click the Library button above and select Trip reports.

BTW there's a group of forumites going up right after the Moab rally. I just need to convince the captain to skip boating for a few months.

Thanks, Tom, I'll check the library.

I have a neighbor here at ORLV who lives in Alaska and makes the round trip every year.  He says the key to making the trip safely is to take it easy and check the road conditions for the day ahead.

Tell the captain that I have a bottle of the white port just waiting for our next get together!

Al
 

Tom

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AlGriefer said:
Tell the captain that I have a bottle of the white port just waiting for our next get together!

That has to be 4 years old. Hopefully it ages well!

BTW we're at Crazy Horse, Lake Havasu. I just talked with Dave and he told me you guys stayed at Islander (down the street from here).
 

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