Trip to Alaska - Lessons Learned
Just returned from a trip to Alaska in our 2015 Sunseeker 3010DS. We were there the last 2 weeks of June and the 1st week of July.
1. The Alaskan summer nights are awesome, it never even comes close to getting dark. There is still sunshine at midnight, the sun goes down to a dusk level around 1 AM but there is still plenty of light out and then rises to full sunshine again by about 4 AM. People are outside enjoying the sunny evenings until very late.
2. The best wildlife viewing while traveling was along the Alaskan highway going through the Yukon in Canada. We kept a log for each day of everything we saw while driving which included black bears, brown bears, moose, caribou, deer, wolves, porcupines, billy goats, sheep and many large herds of bison that would walk along the shoulder of the road and sometimes right on the road.
3. I was impressed with the Ford V10 engine which got us up the steepest mountain grades without straining too much. Traveling to Alaska requires going up and down mountain ranges day after day so you need to feel comfortable driving through mountains.
4. Some of the narrowest stretches of road were on the GlenAllen highway which goes from Anchorage to Tok Alaska. You travel up some very steep mountains on very narrow lanes of road with no shoulders or guard rails. This also allows some of the most awesome views but can be intimidating trying to drive up those grades on such narrow roads.
5. The 1500 mile Alaskan highway was in worse condition than I expected. Before I left I had heard that there would be the occasional mile of gravel road during road construction along the highway but I encountered over 150 miles of gravel roads in several 20 or 30 mile stretches of gravel road. In some cases the old road surface had been removed but gravel had not been laid down yet which resulted in large potholes every few feet and kept speeds down to 5 to 10 mph for extended periods. I also ended up with a damaged windshield from all the gravel.
6. There is little or no cell phone coverage along the 1500 mile Alaskan highway. Many campsites along that highway advertise that they have free wi-fi available for campers. However, in reality most of the campsites had no wi-fi at all even though they advertised it or had wi-fi available for 30 minutes and was so slow it was totally unusable for anything at all. Don't count on wi-fi being available at campsites along the Alaskan highway.
7. Gas is sold by the liter in Canada rather than by the gallon like in the U.S. Prices for gas in Canada varies widely and ranges from about $1 per liter ($4 per gallon) on the low end up to almost $7 per gallon on the high end. As soon as you cross the border into Alaska, gas prices drop down to about $2.70 per gallon.
8. Canada does not have freeways similar to the U.S. The trans Canada highways 1 and 16 still end up going through heavy city traffic and many stoplights as you go through major cities such as Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon etc.