Alaska being as remote as it is requires a little bit of planning to make sure you know which roads lead where and the road conditions, which could affect the daily mileage. A major concern for most riders making the trip is the availability of fuel. Numerous riders have made the trip up to Alaska and said fuel is generally available every 100 miles or less, but I'll be watching the trip meter and filling up frequently. I'm also taking additional fuel canisters for some remote stretches of road.
My overall route plan
Click here for Google Map of simplified route plan.
Alaska is a major destination in the North American adventure touring motorcycle community as it's part of the US and riding through Canada to get there isn't seen as much of a problem, as opposed to riding to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina. I've read about some people having problems about entering Canada as they're getting stricter about whom they let in, but I've got all my papers in order. Being an Indian citizen, I require a tourist visa to enter Canada, which runs about $150 for a 2-year multiple entry visa. I went skiing in Whistler this January and doing the Alaska trip on the same visa makes good sense. Canada has one of the most expensive tourist visas in the world. In comparison, Mexico is only $36. But, so be it, riding through all of British Columbia should be rewarding enough.
In my research for this trip, I learned that going as early as possible in the season is advisable to try and avoid the swarms of mosquitoes that come alive in July and August. Going in May might be a bit risky with the weather, as snow probably still falls across the upper region, so June it is.
One event that I've planned my trip around is the Dust 2 Dawson motorcycle meet in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. This is a gathering of adventure riders in a remote northern town in the Yukon province on the day before the Summer Solstice, June 21st (the longest day in the year). I've been told the Sun doesn't set on this day and just bounces off the horizon. If you stay up to meet the Midnight Sun, your motorcycle gets a little commemorative sticker.
Another date affecting the trip would be my appointment at the US Consulate in Vancouver to renew my US work visa, which expires after three years. I got my current visa in Toronto as part of my first long motorcycle trip. Heading to Vancouver is a positive addition to the trip as now I get to ride through beautiful southern British Columbia through a region called The Kootenays. As much as this trip is about Alaska, it's also about the province of British Columbia, of which I'll be seeing most of; from the bustling city of Vancouver to the remote areas along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.
With 16 days off from work, I planned a 25 day ride from Chicago through Vancouver to Alaska and back. I'm roughly taking a week to get to Alaska, a week to ride around the state and a week to get back. It will be rushed as the distances are quite big between places and five weeks or more would be ideal for this trip, but I'm working with what I've got.
One option would've been to ship the bike to say Vancouver and then start the trip from there and ship the bike back. Besides this being a costly option, for me there's a great sense of partaking a journey in leaving home on the bike and riding to your destination. It puts things in perspective. Alaska is a really long ways off from Chicago. It's 3,500 miles direct. With Vancouver and other detours, my scenic route is going to be around 11,000 miles total. Quite a few high mileage days are planned along with days off from riding to enjoy some national parks and take a rest.
After the Dust 2 Dawson meet, I'll be making the trip up the Haul Road; The Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. I'm hoping weather is on my side because when it rains, the surface of the road becomes very slick, like wet clay. This will be the most adventuresome part of the trip.
To take a break from riding, I'm planning to spend a day at Denali National Park and get some hiking done. Continuing on south, I'll be staying in Anchorage with my friend Mark and hopefully taking a boat tour from Seward to see some glaciers and marine life.
From Anchorage, my trip turns homeward and I'll be riding the Alaska Highway in reverse (north to south), continuing on through Jasper National Park and crossing into Montana near Glacier National Park, which I visited in 2006. I plan to head south and spend two days at Yellowstone National Park, since that's the one big national park that I haven't visited yet. After that, with a quick stop at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, it's the highway back home.
It certainly is a lot of see in just three weeks and I know I'll be pushing my endurance limits, but I'm well aware of how fatigue affects riders and I've tried to physically train to better my stamina. Of course, I won't push myself to unsafe limits as my health is very important to me, because without being healthy, none of this would be possible.
While I was preparing for this trip, I made an interactive Google Map with various waypoints marked on it, gleamed from other riders' ride reports and other various sources that can be used for future Alaska Trip Planning:
Click the map to open it
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