Touring - Alaska Highway
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11-12-05, 07:37 AM
Has anyone cycled the Alaska Highway? Any advice, comments, suggestions? I drove it both ways back in the summer of '76, and I imagine that much has changed since then. I've always wanted to give it another go and think cycling it would be ideal. Thanks.
11-12-05, 11:29 AM
I have been disappointed in the Alaska Highway since it was rebuilt in the late 1990s & early 2000s. What had been a road that meandered among the hills and forests and lakes has become a series of wide runways with clearcuts extending c a couple of hundred yards on either side. Yes - - this makes the road far safer for commercial traffic - - and the Yukon and Alaska depend on this highway - - but it has lost much of its intimacy. Plus the RVs keep getting bigger and more numerous every year - although with gas prices the way they are, that trend may change a bit.
Many cyclists prefer the Stuart Cassiar which is about 90% paved now. You can read some descriptions over at crazyguyonabike. When you get to Watson Lake, you can take the un paved Campbell Highway thru Ross RIver and continue on the Klondike Highway to Dawson City then the Top of the World Highway to Tok. It's VERY remote. Also, the scenery, while lovely, is not as spectacular as that along the Alaska Highway in Kluane National Park.
Yet another option is head out the Yellowhead Highway in BC (Route 16) and take the Alaska Marine Highway. This year will be the first year you can ride Prince of Wales Island connecting from Ketchikan and going on to Wrangell/Petersburg. Then you can take the ferry up to Haines. The Haines Highway is one of the most incredible roads in the North - but again - very remote.
Drop me a line if you have specific questions.
Best - John
PS - Pic of Three Guardsman Pass on the Haines Highway
12-06-05, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the information. I looked further and found these information sources:
Milepost Magazine -- Everyone's favorite resource for Alaskan Highway information.
KARO maps - A source for detailed maps of the North's major highways from an RVer's viewpoint. The maps are reasonably priced and available from www.karo-ent.com.
www.redwingaquatics.com/alcan2005/index.html - Nice account of a ride from Fairbanks, AK, to Vancouver, BC.
I was looking this stuff over the other night, and, well, the scale of the place is kind of intimidating. The sort of thing where you really wouldn't know what to expect till you got there.... and that's part of the allure. I'm sure there's more stuff out there and I'll post it when I find it. Thanks.
12-06-05, 03:44 PM
Here's another great online resource - Bell's Alaska Highways
It has a mile by mile listing for every highway - and you can print off what you need.
Plus it covers every road in Alaska, the Yukon, and northern BC.
Actually, the Alaska Highway isn't all that remote. That's why it has lost some of its allure for me. There are more remote paved roads in Nevada, Wyoming, and eastern Oregon - not to mention dirt ones. If you take a look at Bell's, you will see that there are facilities about every 30 to 50 miles.
From Tonopah to Ely in Nevada it's 170 miles with one little store that's part of someone's ranch which might be open or not. Plus the national forest has no trees and there's precious little water. From Watson Lake to Teslin - one of the more remote stretches - there are rest areas with covered shelters, campgrounds - both territorial and private, gas stations, and lodges. Plus there's a pretty steady stream of traffic in the summer. Not awful - just steady.
The Campbell Highway - from Watson Lake to Carmacks - is extremely remote. I wouldn't try it unless you have considerable touring experience, experience touring all day on gravel, plus backcountry skills. For a quieter ride that's less daunting, consider the Stuart Cassiar. Then if you are totally comfortable when you reach Watson Lake - take the Campbell. One drawback of doing the Campbell thru Dawson City is that you will miss Kluane.
Good luck in your planning and your trip.
12-06-05, 07:27 PM
I've wanted to do an Alaskan trip for a few years now. I bought a book called Alaska Bicycle Touring Guide by Pete Praetorius and Alys Culhane, which has some good info in it, though some of it may be outdated. If I find out anything else or make more concrete plans I'll let you know and vice versa. Those far north roads look too good on a map to pass up. later, John
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