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Author Topic: Alaska Ferry, Prudhoe Bay, and ALCAN Highway plans for this summer  (Read 1123 times)

FrCorySticha

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This summer, I'm thinking about taking a bucket list trip up to and through Alaska and down the ALCAN highway. It's looking to be a 2-3 week trip depending on how much I want to push the roadtrip vs. tourism aspects. So far I just have the basic route mapped out, but not sure where I'll stop for the night or tourist spots worth seeing. Any suggestions for things to do or places to see?

Current routing plans:



First couple days would involve driving to visit family overnight in central Washington, then get on the ferry the next day. Google Maps doesn't show the Bellingham - Whittier ferry, but recently saw a video that showed it taking 4 1/2 days.



Once in Alaska, some things I want to do is drive through the Whittier rail and auto tunnel (why I'm disembarking at Whittier) and take the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse and the Arctic Ocean. Beyond that, spending some time in Anchorage and Fairbanks will likely happen, as well as a brief stop at Denali Park. The rest of the trip is to get some experience of Alaska and check off driving the ALCAN Highway. So, any recommendations in addition to these goals?
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FrCorySticha

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Re: Alaska Ferry, Prudhoe Bay, and ALCAN Highway plans for this summer
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2023, 01:14:50 PM »

If the Bellingham - Whittier ferry becomes too expensive for me and my pickup, I could push the trip back to early fall and do the Bellingham - Skagway - Haines ferries, and drive to Anchorage and Whittier from there. Not ideal, though, as that adds a lot more driving, about 800 miles. This would allow me to get off at Skagway and ride the White Pass & Yukon Railway.

« Last Edit: February 10, 2023, 01:20:15 PM by FrCorySticha »
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US 41

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Re: Alaska Ferry, Prudhoe Bay, and ALCAN Highway plans for this summer
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2023, 06:58:41 AM »

I wish the website was a little more user friendly for the AK Ferrys. I know they're out of season, but having a chart, even with 2022's prices would be helpful. I'm planning on going in 3 years. I'm interested in driving to Prudhoe Bay and maybe doing the ferry all the way out to Unalaska. The problem is that I can't find vehicle prices, passenger only prices, the time it takes, etc.

There's also the Dempster Hwy in Canada that goes all the way to the Arctic Ocean and ends in the coastal town of Tuktoyaktuk. Leaning on doing that over Prudhoe Bay honestly. I guess you have to pay like 50 bucks to take a bus to the Arctic Ocean if you drive to Prudhoe Bay.
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Rothman

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Re: Alaska Ferry, Prudhoe Bay, and ALCAN Highway plans for this summer
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2023, 07:41:20 AM »

Prices depend on length of trip and whether you need a cabin, so a chart would be too gigantic to be readable.

When I planned out our AK trip we took last year, I used the schedules and figured it out.  Yep, it was time consuming.

And yes, some of the schedules are hard to wrap one's head around, like when you get into Juneau after 10 p.m., have to disembark, and then be on your way again at 6 a.m. if you want to keep going the next day.

We enjoyed taking the ferries (protip: Sit in the solarium and forget about the larger chairs in the lounges), but they do have their quirks.  Food's decent, though.
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oscar

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Re: Alaska Ferry, Prudhoe Bay, and ALCAN Highway plans for this summer
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2023, 10:06:53 AM »

Sorry I missed the start of this thread.

Some meta-advice -- the Milepost (big fat travel guidebook; issued annually, with the 2023 edition expected to go on sale next month) is very helpful for planning your trip, and helping you rough out your options.

The Milepost used to have simplified charts showing your ferry options for the main Inside Passage routes. That feature is long gone, the Milepost points you to the ferryalaska.com website, which as US41 and Rothman point out is rather user-unfriendly.

Google Maps doesn't show the Bellingham - Whittier ferry.

Because that ferry route runs only once every two weeks in the summer. That caused some consternation, when some of us were planning an Alaska roadmeet (a smaller version ultimately happened).

A simplified version of the lodging situation (including along the Alaska Highway in Canada): four-walls-and-a-roof lodgings tend to be scarce and expensive, while B&Bs and campgrounds are plentiful and cheap (about the only non-pricey things in Alaska).

For both the Dalton and Dempster routes to the Arctic Ocean, two mounted fuil-size spares are strongly recommended, and both your spares and regular tires should be light-truck rated. Too many stories of flats for regular passenger vehicle tires. I followed that advice on round trips on both the Dalton and Dempster, never needed my spares.

The beach trip to the Arctic is more expensive in Prudhoe Bay than Tuktoyaktuk, but for some reason the water is less chilly at Prudhoe Bay, tolerable for a quick dip. Nobody went into the water in Tuk, with the sub-freezing wind chills the late summer day I was there.

As for the ferry out to Unalaska, when I went out there in 2007 (flying out, catching the ferry back to Chignik), I estimated the extra cost of taking my vehicle round trip on the ferry would've been about $2000. Not worth it. Better to make the trip sans vehicle.

For more info, aside from the Alaska roadmeet topic I mentioned above, I've posted on this forum and/or my Alaska Roads website lengthy trip reports for the Dalton Highway, the Dempster up to Inuvik, the new highway to Tuk I covered on a separate trip, and my visit to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor (got better weather than I expected).
« Last Edit: February 19, 2023, 08:38:14 PM by oscar »
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Quillz

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Re: Alaska Ferry, Prudhoe Bay, and ALCAN Highway plans for this summer
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2023, 04:07:42 AM »

I've taken the Dalton Highway as far as the Arctic Circle. I was gonna complete the trip this year but I think I'll do it next winter instead. You can rent cars from companies year-round, and even in the winter, the highway itself isn't too hard to drive. And you'll have plenty of equipment if you need it.

I will say that the Dalton Highway is kind of... boring. Like, the concept of it is so cool (no pun intended). But I found that the scenery wasn't too far off from what you'll see on something like the Parks Highway. The Arctic Circle itself is kind of underwhelming. Just a random parking lot and a sign telling you you're there. I mean, I guess that's on me for expecting more, but my point is the Dalton Highway is something that is pretty neat in theory, but I'm not sure how much I'd really like it in practice. That said, there are some small hotels you can stay at in Deadhorse. (However, you can't reach the Arctic Ocean unless you have permission to visit the oil fields, most tour companies can arrange this).

On the other hand, a trip to Barrow is pretty neat. I did this back in 2018 and it gives you complete access to the Arctic Ocean. To the point you can just walk directly onto the ice floes (at your own risk). I will say a spent a week there and that was probably three days too long, but it was a really cool part of the world.
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