Basically, we will leave St. Augustine, FL July 1 so we can have a possible hook-up with a group of bikers from Tulsa, OK (they could rendevous with us, if they want) riding for St. Judes Children Hospital. My thoughts are for us to do some short days so we can get rest, have a chance to do laundry, etc. With this leisurely pace, individual bikers can split off for side trips or stop at local attractions knowing there is a nice dry room at the end of the day waiting.
Believe me ... it is one thing to dream and plan to drive to Alaska but the reality is that things happen on the road to take up time plus you will get fatigued. Don't try to be so gung ho and do mile eating days (I confess I did that my first two years with several days of 900 to 1,000 miles) because you will simply be miserable enduring this. Also, there will be bad weather and for safety's sake, we will need to stop for a few hours for the worst part to pass over. If you simply don't have the time for this leisurely pace, then wait for another year when I do the shorter segment directly to Hyder and back.
The reason why I chose this route to Logan, Utah is that if we take the interstate, it is horrendously boring and the traffic in Atlanta, Kansas City and other places is awful! Logan, Utah will have a great mini-run and food for us.
July 1 -- Day 1 .. St. Augustine to Tuscaloosa, AL 470 miles in 9 hours
July 5 -- Day 5 Craig, CO to Logan, UT 351 miles Route 13 north to I-80 then US 30 to Bear Lake Utah then US 89 to Logan. There will be a MINI-RUN and a welcome reception for us at approximately 3 p.m. that day. See detailed schedule at this link.
(More detailed schedule for below dates are being posted soon)
July 6 – Day 6 – Logan, UT to Great Falls, MT 512 miles 7 hours 20 minutes
Interstate 15 North
July 7 – Day 7 -- Great Falls, MT to Edmonton, AB 506 miles, 8 hours
We will go through spectacular Lethbridge, Alberta and take rural route 23 starting at Monarch which is West of Lethbridge. 23 becomes 24 and zig zags NW to route 9, bypassing congested Calgary, We will then take route 72 West and get onto the main highway to Edmonton. Per Jenny's suggestion, when we get on 72, we can go East to Drumheller, then go North on 56 to Stettler, then 12 West then 21 North to Edmonton,
I got this from a local biker named Jenny who might join us to Prudhoe Bay. I guess we all can make our choices when we get to Edmonton. Jenny's comment about secondary roads is so true ... I will go back and add alternate routes to each day.
"First thing to pop into my mind is Drumheller. When you turn west on 72, turn east instead. About a half hour out of the way (1 hour round trip, plus stopping time). Drummheller is dinosaur country. Museum, hoodoos, dinosaurs everywhere. Tourist trap, but even if you ride straight through, it is very special landscape. I make that trip just to see it. If you can spare a couple of hours to get off the bike and walk the trails, it would really be worth the stop.
Hwy 2 is pretty boring. 4 lane highway at 110kph (70mph) and depending on the day and time, it can be pretty congested. Continue a little further west and you turn north on 22. Personally, I prefer secondary roads to the big 'interstates', so 22 is nicer. Hwy 2 is for the "no sightseeing, just get there quick".
I love the country just southwest of Edmonton. Around Drayton Valley. Foothills of the mountains, so a few bends in the road, but nothing to slow down for.
A very scenic ride, beautiful!, is hwy 40. It is almost on the B.C. border, Alberta side. Goes from Hinton to Grande Praire. This will also add a few hours.
Any rock and roll fans? Current bands that is. Nickleback is from Hanna. Very small town just outside Drumheller. Stop for gas and to say you have been there.
There is another leg to hwy 40 that runs from west of Calgary, to Hinton. I haven't been on that particular road yet. Want to ride it sometime this year."
July 8 -- Day 8 -- Edmonton, AB to Dawson Creek, British Columbia -- 368 miles in just over 6 hours. Rationale for this short segment: 1. Grande Prairie is a large city and you may want to schedule motorcycle maintenance there. 2. Enjoy the ambience of Dawson Creek, the official start of the Alaska Highway.
An alternate route would be 44 North to Slave Lake, taking 2 then 48 to Dawson Creek.
July 9 -- Day 9 -- Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Muncho Lake, BC -- 430 miles.
En route to Muncho Lake, we will come to Summit Lake and Stone Mountain. Almost always, there is a great photo shoot opportunity of animals such as stone sheep, moose, etc.
Accommodation at the Northern Rockies Lodge is comprised of 45 modern, non-smoking guest rooms. All rooms in the main lodge are equipped with colour TVs, thermostatically controlled heat and contain full ensuite washroom facilities. Designated pet rooms are available. The restaurant and main lodge are open year-round. The Northern Rockies Lodge on Muncho Lake also offers an exciting variety of fishing, hiking, glacier flightseeing, canoeing and wildlife viewing tours and packages. http://www.northernrockieslodge.com/
July 11 -- Day 11 -- Haines Junction, YT to Fairbanks, AK -- 493 miles. Last year, this was by far the worst part of the highway. There was massive road construction around Destruction Bay. 75% of the lodges and gas stations had shut down so you will want to watch your fuel gage. Perhaps the construction is finished by 2009 but the highway into Alaska about an hour before and after Tok was really quite bad. Some of you may want to split off to Anchorage from Tok. In this case, it would be 609 miles.
Suggested lodging in Anchorage is at University of Alaska ... prices start at $50 for a single suite. If four of you share a quad suite, it is $115 per night.
What to do in Fairbanks? There is a 16 hour tour to and from Prudhoe Bay which costs around $600 per person, or there is a (seems a better value here) a three day tour of Prudhoe Bay which is around $900, double accommodations. Personally, I would want to go on this one!
You can always rent a bike suitable for driving up to Prudhoe Bay or a car but for that price, I'd really relax and take one of the guided tours. Its all your choice!!
Others may want to go South to Denali Park and Homer and then rendevous in Tok or Haines Junction with the group staying in Fairbanks/Prudhoe Bay area.
PLEASE realize this is a loosely organized tour to give you flexibility. If you want to ride alone, you can leave in the morning at whatever time you want. If you want to ride in a group, you will have a chance every day to chat with other bikers and make informal agreements to ride in groups. When we arrive in Alaska, you are "on your own" so use chamber of commerce listings, travel agent recommendations, etc. and set up your itinery.
For example, Denali Park, Homer, Hot Springs, float plane fishing, rent a car or dirt ready bike and drive up to Prudhoe Bay, take a van tour of Prudhoe Bay, take a bush mail flight to an remote Eskimo village, do salmon fishing, hike in the mountains, etc. so you will be busy and happy until the time our group rendevous and leave Alaska. There are books on Alaska in your bookstore. Have a plan before you leave on the trip and chat with other bikers your plans and perhaps you can go in groups of two or three.
July 12 -- Day 12 -- on your own -- Even with a heavy Gold Wing, you should be able to do Arctic Circle and back from Fairbanks in one easy day ... around 200 miles of gravel or so. Don't try to do Prudhoe Bay on a "street bike"! You can rent a dirt bike in Fairbanks if your heart is set on this. it really gets nasty past Coldfoot, especially if it rains as the chemical they spread on the gravel to keep down the dust becomes slippery when wet. Mud cakes up radiators and you aren't allowed to put water on the ground per law so how are you gonna wash off the mud? Darryl Petrack's posting elsewhere on this website will enlighten you on this!
The enclosed web site www.boreallodge.com is in Wiseman, AK. and if we make it that far could stay there in the lodge- pretty cheap. C. Haas
July 13 -- Day 13 -- on your own
July 14 -- Day 14 -- on your own
The homeward bound segment is 4675 miles in approximately ten days which is less than 500 miles per day on the average. So, we would actrually be riding just 9 hours a day, with several hours for sightseeing, rest, etc. After getting to Fairbanks July 11, we would then rendevous July 15, then head to Hyder Alaska.
Last time, we arrived in Hyder too early in July, the mountain roads were still covered with snow and we couldn't see the majestic glaciers and the salmon run hadn't started. To take care of this we are visiting Hyder AFTER Fairbanks and will be going east on the Alaska Highway to just before Watson Lake and taking the Provincial Route 37, we will go on an extremely scenic road (partially unpaved) .. parts of this road had trees right at the edge with no shoulder to speak of!
July 15 -- Day 15 Rendevous at Haines Junction, YT
We will take the Alaska Highway to Watson Lake, Yukon. This will be an easy 375-mile segment. Don't expect red carpet accommodations en route to Hyder!
July 16 -- Day 16 -- Haines Junction, YT to Watson Lake YT -- 375 miles
July 17 -- Day 17 Watson Lake, Yukon to Hyder, Alaska for 406 miles in 13 hours ... this will be slow riding.
We will need to backtrack on Alaska Highway West then take Provincial Route 37 (portions unpaved) and go South around 352 miles, then Provincial Route 37A to Hyder. The last time I took this route, about 1/3 is not paved ... it is hardpacked gravel. It is a wildly scenic road, with no shoulders at parts ... trees growing right up to the edge! When we get onto 37A, we will go past a glacier and you will be amazed at steep mountains on both sides of the road with waterfalls.
All next day July 18, we can go up a gravel road about 50 miles and you will see a majestic glacier from horizon to horizon BELOW you! (See photos by Patrick Henry). We then can to go an observation deck and watch wild bears fish for salmon. There is a vintage hotel and dining room where you can enjoy gastronomicalepicureandelight meals.
Above is the glacier and a typical hotel nearby. Such lovely views and accommodations!
To the right and below is an actual photo of bears. You will be on a high and safe observation deck watching all their antics. The fun part is watching the cubs learn from mother bear on how to fish!
Leaving Hyder July 19, going East 2500 miles all across cool Canada to the top of Lake Superior, we would arrive in Wawa, Ontario in about five days or July 23. Leaving July 24, cutting south between Lakes Michigan and Huron, we can get into Indiana in cool weather (the two lakes on both sides keeping us cool in the late July heat). Cutting southeast, some of you can then take the Tail of the Dragon. This last segment is 1500 miles in three days would take us back to Florida July 26.
July 19 -- Day 19 -- Hyder, Alaska to Prince George BC 436 miles on Canadian Route 16
July 20 -- Day 20 -- Prince George BC to Edmonton, Alberta -- 461 miles on Canadian Route 16. This will take us through some great scenery thru Continential Divide and Jasper.
July 21 -- Day 21 -- Edmonton, Alberta to Yorkton, Saskatoon -- 531 miles. From Edmonton, we will take highway 14 which will parallel TransCanadian Route.
July 23 -- Day 23 -- Ignace, Ontario to Wawa, Ontario -- 439 miles
July 24 -- Day 24 -- Wawa, Ontario to Ft. Wayne, Indiana -- 556 miles
July 25 -- Day 25 -- Ft. Wayne, Indiana to Knoxville, Tennessee -- 457 miles
July 26 -- Day 26 -- Knoxville, Tennessee to St. Augustine, Florida -- 589 miles
Reason for returning to Florida via Lake Superior? More variety and cooler. Much cooler and scenic. There is a gorgeous waterfall near Thunder Bay, Ontario. It will be cool indeed all the way to Indiana! Two years ago, we returned via the Southwest and were greeted with 110 degrees heat. Last year, this route was in the 60s 70s and low 80s all the way into Georgia!
When you click the daily links, you will find a designated lodging with a web link and description. You are, of course, free to use internet and find alterate lodging in the vicinity if the official lodging is not to your liking or is sold out. On the registration form, you will have the option of (1) getting your own private room or (2) you want to share a room (each room will have two beds). As bikers register, you will see their names and contact information and you will know which ones are seeking room-mates and you contact each other and decide how you will split the costs of the rooms you reserve yourself.
1. Want to be matched up with a room-mate? Choice of: Third person in room option to take a sleeping bag (this way, it will be split 40/40/20 with the two people taking private beds and the sleeping bag. This is for bikers who want to really save money. So bikers who want to take sleeping bag/air mattress will contact bikers who already made room reservations and ask if he/she can share the room, paying 20%.
For 2010, how about a "Bed and Breakfast" tour that will appeal to couples? I am thinking of a swing North around Lake Superior with 350 mile days so we can all sleep in, enjoy a breakfast, and hit the road. This may be limited to five couples. This would be to Hyder, AK with its majestic mountains, glaciers, water falls, salmon/bear observation deck and incredibly charming old hotels/dining rooms in Stewart, British Columbia. Return trip would be thru Logan, Utah and then going directly East, eventually going Southeast around Kansas City, MO.