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Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

Fort Myers, Florida
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Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

My husband and I are retiring at the end of the school year, 2011, and are hoping to fulfill our lifelong dream of driving to Alaska from Pa. ....hope to spend about 6-7 weeks tripping. ..thinking middle of August through September. We are going to do Mt. Rushmore and then up to Banff/Calgary, and then from there head to Alaska. We will be traveling with an 11 pound dog, other than that , just the two of us. We are mostly interested in scenery and wildlife (won't be able to do much hiking unfortunately) . Want to definately get to Denali. Have ordered Milepost and am looking forward to receiving that for more help and ideas. Any advice, concerns ( I know...the dog is going to be a drawback at times, but don't have a choice there).......but if anyone would like to jump in and give me some guidance and advice I would REALLY appreciate it! As our one "splurge" on the trip we would like to do a flight of somekind...again, any recommendations on the ONE to do? Know we will have to kennel the dog for that one...or leave him in the vehicle (which he is OK with for 3-4 hours maybe) Are boarding kennels going to be few and far between? again, any guidance at this point would be GREATLY appreciated as we are in the early planning stages.

east texas
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1. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

If you have ever thought about seeing the Northern Lights try to make Fairbanks your last stop in September. We did a 3 week trip starting Sept 1-21,08 and ended our trip in Fairbanks and we were lucky enough to see the Lights. It is just a thought . Also we did a Floatplane trip while in Anchorage and the Helicopter landing in Denali. Everything is pretty expensive but we knew it would probably be the last time for us to vacation in Alaska so we decided to do everything we wanted to do. You will have a great time and we are so glad we did everything we did. Also we went fishing in Homer. So much to do and so little time. Have fun planning

Alaska
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for Alaska
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2. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

I'll start out by recommending my favorite places on my way down from Alaska last May. Go up trough Michigan and travel west along the north shore of Lake Superior. Considering seasons, drive it on the way up for warmer weather, as perhaps in September it will not be as comfortable. Check weather predictions to make your best choice.

As a matter of fact, for weather along any point go to http://www.wunderground.com/

and in the upper right "Road Trip Planner" and "Trip Planner" and experiment with different times of year and places to see if you prefer one time or another, a northerly or southern route.

Just about 30 miles east of Edmonton, Alberta there is a great nature preserve with buffalo that gave me some of the best views I have ever had. In the spring time I was also fortunate enough to catch the young calves. I thought it was well worth the day fee.

Liard Hot Springs is a definite must stop, so take your swim suits, and it is free. Read up on Dawson and the Top of the World Highway and decide if this is your cup of tea. I am headed back there next summer myself. Getting into Alaska, see if you can include the road between Delta and Paxsn, it is outrageously beautiful. Also Fairbanks, Denali and Valdez, Seward. I don't recommend going any farther south than that. It is 5 hours to Homer one way and I don't find it worth while. Others do.

Others will also fill in a lot of detail I have skipped and offer fresh ideas as well.

71

Anchorage, Alaska
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3. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

Welcome to TA & I'm really excited for you guys. I retired from teaching in Sarasota, FL in 2005 (May 24) and on May 25 my wife and I left FL and drove to AK (arrived early July & left March 2009). It was the most amazing thing we've ever done.

Since you're driving to AK, I'll make the assumption that you'll drive back too. You should consider taking a bit of a different route going up then coming back.

This is a link to a google map that could be an interesting route:

http://tinyurl.com/pa-ak-dreamdrive

I've put the drive through SD (Mt. Rushmore) and Yellowstone leading to the Cassier Hwy for the north bound trip.

In AK I'm thinking hit the lower parts of the state earlier as I believe there's better fishing opportunities than in September (could be wrong; but the more knowledgeable will correct this). I then move northbound as your trip continues to have you take advantage of more fall as you go north & to get more darkness (increase odds of seeing Northern Lights). From Fairbanks head to the previously mentioned "Top of the World" Hwy to Dawson City, Yukon and south to Whitehorse to get the Alcan Hwy. I also believe Liard Hot SPrings (Northern BC) are a must (especially on a dark, cool night).

For flight seeing we've done a late summer/early fall flight out of Talkeetna to Denali (google search should get you several operators).

The Milepost book (http://milepost.com/) is a must.

Have fun planning & good luck & congratulations on retirement,

Scott

ps - you should consider spending a year or two up there teaching & expand the experience ( applitrack.com/anchorage/… )

Anchorage, Alaska
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4. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

I've just adjusted the previous google map url per what I think 71 was describing (north shore of Lake Superior & then south through Michigan (see: http://tinyurl.com/pa-ak-dreamdrive2 ). You get to go through several nice little Cdn. cities. That's one of my favorite things about using mapping; pulling the lines/roads & seeing where the route changes take you.

You should check in to the "vet certificate" for your dog and see how long they are good for (since you're taking a longer than normal trip). I know of dog boarding in Anchorage and Palmer (a google search &/or call to some vets up there) should set you fine on that. We also made use of google many times for "pet friendly" places (we did our trip with 2 cats) on our drive to AK. We never had trouble finding a reasonable place to stay.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

What a wonderful retirement gift! Congratulations. That is my dream also. I think it's a popular one. It's the kind of drive that requires enough time to really savor the experiences.

You didn't indicate if you were pulling a camper, driving an RV or driving a car and staying in hotels/B&B's. The first two give you lots of flexibility since they're self contained, but if you need a hotel, expecially a dog friendly room, you'll need to be more concerned about the planning and travel distances.

Bristol, Connecticut
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6. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

We drove out of Alaska last September to Connecticut (6500mi, 28 days, 19 hotels). We drove the west access route down to Seattle/Portland and the east. We had very little problem finding accommodations that would accept our dog. I booked our hotels/motels a couple days ahead of time by checking a map deciding where I wanted to drive to and then "Googling" that town's hotels. Most if not all La Quinta Inns allow dogs as do most Choice Hotels and Best Westerns. If you stay with the same hotel chain you will earn free stays rather quickly. We stopped at Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, and the Badlands as well as many other sights. Allow 2 nights for Rushmore/Black Hills and be sure to see Crazy Horse it is quite a contrast between a federally funded project and private one.

In Canada we stayed in Abbotsford(Days Inn), Williams Lake(Coast Fraser), Dawson Creek(Days Inn), Fort Nelson(Super 8 @ 149.00/night), Watson Lake (Nugget City Cabins), Whitehorse (Westmark), Tok, Alaska (Golden Bear). I had no complaints about any of these places except some of the prices in Canada but that is to be expected. I highly recommend the Nugget City cabins as an alternative to Watson Lake, they were a bit pricey but not for the area, had great bathrooms and were quiet with a homemade meal.

In US we either stayed at Best Western or La Quinta with the exception of Yellowstone where we stayed at Kelly Inn. Stay away from hotels with water parks especially on weekends. They are overpriced, crazy busy and you will not get near the pool.

Check all the regulations for crossing the border with your pup. Also know what you can and can't transport across the border including fruit and dog food. I am sure you realize how much traveling with your dog can slow your travels and to us that was an asset. We stopped more often, hiked more often and he was a conversation starter in rest stops and hotels.

Fort Myers, Florida
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7. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

Thank you to everyone who responded so far...feeling a little more relieved about bringing the dog along ...thinking he will be in a kennel up there for a week or so while we do the Denali trip as we will probably do the bus and possibly a plane.

We will be driving a full sized conversion van which gives us the option of sleeping in it if we HAVE to., but will probably be mostly in hotels....haven't checked on B&B's.....any of those allow dogs do you suppose?

Looking forward to more advice, comments , ideas ...really appreciate those who have responded so far!

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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8. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

I am going to add where I would head - after South Dakota, I would head to Glacier National Park and then head north to see Lake Louise, Banff, etc. The Canadian Rockies are gorgeous. Also, if you can, I would take the Cassiar one way, the Alcan the other - it will be a nice constrast.

Most B&B''s I know won't take pets - not sure of the motels. As far as Denali Park area, there is a business that provides dog care, so if you need to use a kennel for a day or two, I know that is available.

Have fun planning this adventure. Heck - I think I would leave right after school and take your time . . . enjoy Alaska all summer and then head home after the fall colors have been enjoyed here in Alaska - that would be a wonderful trip! :)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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9. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

I was looking at the Pet Friendly Hotel web site a few days ago, thinking of a quick trip to Alberta. There were hotels that took dogs but often with an extra fee of $25! That really adds up. A few were only $10. My dog is 92 lbs so he failed the 'small dogs only' rule which really cut into our available options.

http://www.petfriendly.ca/search.php

Whitehorse
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10. Re: Lifetime dream trip to Alaska

Most flight seeing in Alaska and the Yukon are great. The only major factor is weather.

In Northern British-Columbia, you can come back by a different road: HW 37 Stewart-Cassiar instead of the Alaska Highway.