Airstreaming to Alaska – Final Chapter: Lessons Learned

Posted August 15, 2023 – Narrated by Jim
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Most tourists take two weeks to see Alaska. That’s a mind-bender for slow travel enthusiasts.

Denali National Park, Alaska
A few steps from our campsite in the Denali National Park, Alaska

From down here in the lower 48 – as we look back on our 246 day trek with two-months in Alaska – it all seems like a whirlwind two-week expedition. Where did the time go? Is Alaska’s mysterious energy threshold a portal to another dimension? Or was it all a dream?

Resurrection Bay, Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, Alaska
Resurrection Bay, Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, Alaska

Of course, Alaska is really up there, I know … because I found the notes we took, the notes I wish someone had shared with us before we set out.

So, here is our open book of the details – things we learned which you may find interesting, or even serve you as you plan your own unique overland adventure to the 49th State.

Nelchina River, Alaska
Overlooking Nelchina River, Alaska

Alaska is a long way from Everywhere.

Glacier View, Alaska
Near Glacier View, Alaska

You don’t get a sense of that distance on a passenger jet or cruise ship like you do on wheels.

Cantwell, Alaska
Near Cantwell, Alaska

We still can’t believe we did it, logging 4,500 miles in 175 days from San Diego to our entry near Chicken, Alaska.

Poker Creek Alaska border crossing
Poker Creek Alaska border crossing

Our tour of the Alaska interior covered 2,400 miles

Park Rd, Denali National Park, Alaska
Park Rd, Denali National Park, Alaska

Our exit from Haines, Alaska to the US Customs and Border at Nighthawk Port of Entry in Loomis, Washington covered 1,800 miles.

Haines Highway north of Pleasant Camp, British Columbia
Haines Highway north of Pleasant Camp, British Columbia

Here is an animated map of our journey

Then another 2,100 miles back to San Diego. Total round trip was 10,700 miles, not counting the mileage we logged while unhitched.

Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier near Glacier View, Alaska

So, here’s our post-Alaska POV on …

White River near Koidern, Yukon
White River near Koidern, Yukon

Philosophy • Preparation • Planning • Mileposts (the book) • Roads • Weather • Camping • Cash and Currency • Clothing • Food • Wildlife • Bugs • Fuel • Dump Stations and Potable Water • Pets • Internet Connectivity • Hiking • Cycling • Kayaking • Damage • Dangers • Canada Border Crossing • US Border Crossing • General Observations • Serendipity • Final Thoughts • Our Camp Sites

Prince William Sound near Valdez, Alaska
Prince William Sound near Valdez, Alaska


  • Approach the entire trip with a sense of gratitude. You made it!
  • Accept what you are given and make the best of it. If cherries cost $25 per pound, eat yams. Alaska is a lot of things, but it is not a mecca for fresh produce.
  • Constant awareness is exhausting, but keep your eyes sharp. Watching the road, and your back, is all part of your wilderness adventure. 🐻🫎🦬🦅🐃🐐
  • There isn’t a right way or wrong way to travel. If you want to take a side trip at the last minute, go for it! It may be the best decision you made in Alaska.
  • Listen to your instincts. We didn’t necessarily take the best route, it was simply the way we went based on our instincts.
  • Alaska is not only visual, it’s a full-body sensory experience. Let it move you. Journal, paint, or photograph everything you care to, but don’t forget to just breathe.
Eureka Roadhouse⁩, ⁨Alaska
Near ‎⁨Eureka Roadhouse⁩, ⁨Alaska⁩


  • Get all new tires for your tow vehicle and trailer, and take spare tubes for your bikes.
  • With fairly new tires, we only took one spare and we didn’t use it.
  • If you are pulling a trailer, have the suspension, brakes and wheel seals checked before starting north.
  • Have all vehicle fluids checked and include an oil change.
  • Make sure your car insurance covers Canada. Talk to your agent.
  • Take enough prescription medicine(s) for the entire journey.
  • Do not expect on-time deliveries from Amazon or any supplier. Due to supplier and carrier delays, combined with the great distance, arrival times may not coincide with your travel schedule.
  • Cell service coverage is either sketchy or nonexistent in most areas.
  • We acquired an inReach Satellite communicator to text a daily message to our family with our location and a “We’re OK” message.
    • When we saw a disabled vehicle where there was no cell service, we used our inReach Satellite communicator to text emergency services and schedule a tow truck for the stranded driver.
  • Consider joining these Facebook groups: RVing to Alaska , Alaska RV Travelers, Alaska Highway / The Alcan / Cassiar Hiway and Driving the Alcan – Alaska Canadian Highway These are great resources!
  • A sleeping mask to cover our eyes was essential gear to stay on schedule during those 21-hour summer days.
  • Because internet connectively is scarce, we bought a small DVD player and several movies for entertainment during long rainy nights in the bush.
  • We also stocked up on Kindle books.
  • Used the Garmin RV795 GPS, which allows us to input our rigs length and height to help guide us on the safest routes.
  • Tlingit is the First Nation’s language. At least half the locals we met along the Pacific Northwest were indigenous people. As visitors, it’s polite to learn a few words of the host’s language.
Mile Marker 0 - Beginning of the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek, British Columbia
Mile Marker 0 – Beginning of the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek, British Columbia


  • Making reservations prior to arrival was only necessary to secure a space in the most popular areas.
  • Visiting Alaska for two months may sound like a long time, but we’d have stayed longer if weather had allowed. Alaska is a large state!
  • The average visit is less than 14 days. Plan to stay as long as possible because fires and harsh weather will probably eat up some of your time. Remember, this may be your only visit.
  • Don’t rush through British Columbia and Yukon, these provinces are all part of The Great North and the scenic beauty is comparable to the majesty of the Alaska interior.
  • Roll like a pioneer. The journey is the experience. Getting there is part of the fun.
  • Expect your plans to change. Most things are out of your control: weather, road conditions, ferry schedules, forrest fires, floods. Stay informed and aware of what is happening around you and adapt.
  • Plan for down-time to recoup your energy, or deal with repairs.
  • To see the Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights), we planned to be in an area of probability in late August to mid-September when the season for the phenomena begins. We observed The Lights in Fairbanks in late August.
  • We created a computer document to take notes about our trip.
    • We have a section on general notes and a section for each area we wanted to visit.
    • We included sites of interest, things to do, concerns, possible places to camp and any important details.
    • Since we don’t carry paper, we stored our notes in Dropbox for easy access on our computers and iPhones.
  • We used RV Life Trip Wizard to plan our entire trip, plus many of the websites and Apps on our blog post “RVer’s Bag ‘o Tricks.”
Upper Trail Lake near Moose Pass, Alas
Upper Trail Lake near Moose Pass, Alaska

Milepost (the book)

  • A new edition is released annually, in April. We used a 2021 edition (a year ahead) and began marking it heavily.
  • Milepost served as a daily travel guide to customize our itinerary. Every morning we checked our route for places to stop for lunch, take a hike, visit a geological wonder or tour a historic site.
  • Milepost was an indispensable research tool, but not a perfect one. Sometimes we would have to read it backwards because we were traveling in the opposite direction of the one-way guide. Sure wish we could download the app.
you are now entering the world famous alaska highway


  • Alaska averages 2.26 million visitors per year, but less than 100,000 travel by land, that’s only 5% of all tourism. There is a reason for that. Driving is expensive, dusty, exhausting and dangerous, but incredibly rewarding.
  • Historically, the best time to drive the Alaska Highway is from May to mid-September. Not only are the roads better during this time, but there are more services open for seasonal travelers.
  • The roads were fine for long stretches and they were horrible for long stretches with construction delays and detours.
  • Miles of rutted dirt roads – enough for a full days drive – are much worse in the rain.
  • Potholes and frost heaves are to be expected on any road, new or old, at any time.
  • Mind the warning signs for potholes and frost heaves, but don’t depend on them as it takes time to replace the flags after storms, floods and fires – and, they’re kind of low to the ground and get blocked by summer growth.
  • Do not accelerate on good roads expecting those conditions to remain consistent. That’s where we saw drivers breaking axels. Practice restraint and pull off to enjoy the view, make a cup of coffee, take nice pictures, give the dog a break. So you show up late. So what? It doesn’t get dark till midnight. Slow and steady reaps reward.
Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, Yukon
Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, Yukon
  • Do not plan to average even 50 miles per hour.
  • Most roads are two lanes with many pullouts to allow fast traffic to pass. We frequently used the pullouts to let supply trucks pass.
  • Keep in mind that the AlCan wasn’t built for tourists, it was built by the military to supply the outposts. You are an afterthought.
  • When driving in Canada, the speed limits and distances are in kilometers.
  • The drive between Tok and Destruction Bay is so riddled with wide pot holes and deep frost heaves that damage to your rig is highly likely to occur if you drive too fast. We averaged 30 mph.
    • We reduced our fresh water tank by half when traveling between Tok and Destruction Bay. Lightening up any way you can is recommended.
    • The road south from Tok after crossing the border of Canada is smooth for awhile, but it’s only a tease.
  • In British Columbia you are traveling on logging roads.
Highway 97 near Stoner, British Columbia logging trucks
Highway 97 near Stoner, British Columbia
  • If you are caught driving more than 40 kph (25 mph) over the speed limit, the BC authorities can impound your car for 7 days.
  • The most challenging road for us was from Dawson City, Yukon, to the Alaska border on The Top of The World Highway. It was a rough dirt road, and rain and thick fog compounded the risk to the point of zero visibility. We slid in the mud several times. There are no roadside guard rails or pullouts.
  • If it had been a clear day, our experience on TOTWH would have been entirely different. We hear the views are spectacular. If we had listened to our instincts, and not been so eager to enter Alaska, we would have stayed in Dawson City, having a blast, until the weather cleared a day or so later.
Top of the World Highway
Top of the World Highway – Steep hairpin curves with 1,000 ft. unguarded drop-offs – almost zero visibility
  • Some of the worst roads as of the Summer of 2022
    • Between Tok, Alaska and Destruction Bay, Yukon, due to snow heaves and large potholes.
    • Between Dawson City, Yukon and Chicken, Alaska, due to rain, dense fog and sliding mud.
    • Between Chicken, Alaska and Tok, Alaska, due to snow heaves and large potholes.
    • East of Muncho Lake, British Columbia, due to major road construction.
    • Klondike Highway between Whitehorse, Yukon and Pelly Crossing, Yukon due to fires near the road.
Sea to Sky Highway - Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia
Sea to Sky Highway – Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia


  • Historically, August is the rainiest month in Alaska, and 2022 holds the record for the wettest in the past 40 years. Great timing, huh? But the good news is that all that rain relieved the fire season. Clouds are better than smoke.
  • It rained 75% of the days we were in Alaska.
  • Bring a Weather Radio because you might not have cell service.
  • If you do have internet connectivity, AccuWeather is a good weather App.
  • If you like physical exercise (like we do) be mentally prepared for frequent interruptions to your fitness plans. It’s a challenge to stay in condition with constant cold, wind, and rain.
Girdwood, Alaska
Near Girdwood, Alaska


  • Apparently, if a rest area or pull-off is not posted, “No overnight camping,” then it is acceptable to stay the night.
  • We used Harvest Hosts, AllStays and These free one-night stops were our favorites.
  • To research campgrounds, we used the campground review websites on our blog post “RVer’s Bag ‘o Tricks.”
  • With the exception of Denali National Park and Seward, very few of the developed campgrounds were ever full. Even on weekends many campgrounds were well below capacity.
  • We prefer government campgrounds (national, state, county and city) to privately owned parks. There were a few exceptions (like Tundra RV Park in Tok) but public parks offer more privacy with natural barriers between sites, and they connect to hikes and wilderness areas. Most pubic parks are dry camping, but dependency on hook-ups would have diminished the experience we came for.
  • In each of our blog posts in this series (see list below), we share either a link to our campgrounds, or the GPS coordinates of a gravel pullout or rest area where we stayed.
seward alaska
Our campsite in the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Cash – Currency

  • We waited until we arrived to Victoria to exchange U.S. currency for Canadian dollars at an ATM. It was too much hassle to exchange in the States.
  • The exchange rate was heavily in favor of US dollars for Canadian dollars.
  • In Canada, Costco only accepts a Costco brand Visa card or Mastercard.
  • Some provincial campgrounds in Canada accept only cash or checks.
  • We didn’t need a lot of cash since most businesses accept credit cards. $300 in Canadian for emergencies was sufficient.
Near Lower Trail Lake on the Seward Highway, Alaska
Near Lower Trail Lake on the Seward Highway, Alaska


  • Bring clothes for extremely warm weather, and extremely cold weather, and for everything in-between. You can’t know what you’re going to get until you get there. Locals claimed that we missed the warmest May-June they’d ever had – and we were freezing in an interminable B.C. cold-front! Go figure.
  • Canada is a great place to gear-up for cold. We took advantage of the favorable exchange rate in Whistler where we acquired top-notch essential wool underwear.
  • In cold weather, plan to wear four layers and carry gear to pack them away so you can peel off layers as the day warms.
    • We each wore a wool base layer under a shirt and pants. Over the shirt we wore an insulated down vest under an insulated down jacket.
Glenallen, Alaska
South of Glenallen, Alaska


  • Don’t expect the groceries you’re used to.
  • It helps to have an assortment of meals you can make with limited ingredients. You’re in ramen country now 🍜
  • Budget more for groceries and restaurants than you originally planned.
  • When you cross the border, stock up on pantry foods and water. Eating is a fun activity when you’re stuck somewhere due to road closures or extreme weather conditions, and having a hot meal or cocoa at a viewpoint makes it more memorable.
  • If there’s a guy on the side of the road selling jerky or smoked fish, buy some.
Placer River, Alaska
Near Placer River, Alaska


  • British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska are all filled with wildlife. We saw more wildlife in Northwest Territories than all of them together.
  • Most of our sightings were unplanned road-side encounters.
  • Once we adjusted our eyes to look closer and notice movement in the trees we began to see more individuals browsing the roadsides.
  • Pull over to view animals from a safe distance. Keep in mind that stopping can put you and the animal at risk.
  • If you must see a certain animal, you might choose to go to one of the farms where rescued individuals are pastured and/or cultivated.
  • Do not approach wildlife. Please trust us on this: you will have a better experience if you are inside your vehicle while the engine is running as you take photos and videos from the window with your handy compact, camera with a powerful zoom – and, it just may be a lifesaver.
  • Below are some of our favorite sightings taken with our compact, idiot-proof Sony RX100 VII camera.   



  • While there are gas stations almost everywhere, we never went below half a tank. We took advantage of all opportunities to refill, including our diesel, propane and generator gas.
  • If Milepost indicated there were limited services ahead, we called to make sure the station was open and had diesel because sometimes they run out of diesel in the middle of the day.
  • We did not carry a spare can of diesel. Planning and research was a better solution than carrying a dangerous can of gas.
  • Fuel (Gas, propane and diesel) in Canada and Alaska is more expensive than the lower 48 states. Especially in remote areas.
  • Be aware that in Canada, diesel is sold with yellow on the handle, not green handles like the States.
  • In Canada you’ll need to convert liters to gallons to estimate your gas mileage and cost per gallon. There are 3.785 liters per gallon. While we were traveling, the conversion rate was $.78 Canadian to $1.00 US Dollars.
  • If you’re driving a diesel truck that requires DEF, bear in mind that DEF is about twice as expensive than it is in the lower 48. Ideally, we should have brought five 2 ½ gallon bottles, if we had enough room to store them 🤪
  • Diesel cost us $5,700 for the 12,000 miles from San Diego to Alaska and back to the lower states, averaging 48¢ per mile.
Taylor Highway south of Chicken, Alaska
Taylor Highway south of Chicken, Alaska

Dump Stations and Potable Water

  • Don’t rely on your expectation that there will be a dump station, or potable water at your next destination. If you see an open dump station or a potable water source, go for it, or you may regret the lost opportunity.
  • Muncho Lake Resort was flooded when we arrived, so the dump stations – there and for more than a hundred miles around – were under a government shut down. Ugh. For 3-days we were stuck with black and gray tanks that were almost full.
  • Our blog post RVer’s Bag ‘o Tricks has many useful resources for finding dump stations.
Meziadin Lake⁩, ⁨British Columbia⁩
‎⁨Meziadin Lake⁩, ⁨British Columbia⁩


  • Traveling with your pet is a joy, but taking Fido presents several limitations.
    • The two of us can’t go on no-pet outings together such as: an 11-hour bus tour of Denali National Park; a flight-seeing tour of Knik Glacier; or take a 9-hour boat ride in Valdez Harbor; or take The Alaska Marine Highway System home, saving a week of driving (Strict rules for quartering your pet in your rig require leaving your pet alone for 8-hours per day. We think that would be abusive to many pets and a cruel way to treat our 15-year old travel companion). Rather than go alone, we usually opt out of the experience. But, due to overcast weather conditions we might have opted out anyway because tickets must be purchased in advance and are not refundable if conditions are less than ideal for viewing.
  • We often leave Pico de Gallo at home (i.e. “in the trailer”) – but only if it’s a cool day, or we have electricity to run the air-conditioner on a hot day. To this purpose, we installed a Wi-Fi thermostat so we can monitor the temperature inside the Airstream when we’re away – but Pico’s bladder keeps us on a 5-hour leash, and we think that’s a champion feat for a 15-year old chihuahua.
  • We were warned about birds of prey snatching small dogs, so we kept Pico on a short leash. We’re used to keeping him close because even domestic dogs mistake Pico for prey. We’ve heard it a thousand times, “OMG he never does that!” when snapping jaws lunge in Pico’s direction. Sure enough, bald eagles stalked us constantly waiting for a moment of opportunity, to consume this new imported delicacy.
  • When crossing an international border, the authorities may want to see your dogs’ rabies paperwork. It is not required for cats, and maybe that’s why we saw so many motorhome windshields with snoozing cats.
  • A Pet Health Certificate is not required for entry back to the lower 48.
  • The State of Alaska requires a pet health certificate dated within 30 days of entering Alaska.
    • The Border is staffed by Federal Agents, not Alaska State agents, and Federal agents will not ask to see a current pet health certificate.
    • We carry a pet health certificate from our veterinarian, but not one dated within 30 days of entering Alaska. No one ever asked to see it.
Signpost Forest - Watson Lake, Yukon
Signpost Forest – Watson Lake, Yukon

Internet Connectivity

  • Cell service is very spotty in remote areas – and almost every place we wanted to see was quite remote.
  • The Cassiar Highway has, basically, no-service.
  • Don’t expect any private campground claiming to have WiFi to actually have functional service.
  • We use RV Life Trip Wizard to plan our trip, and since nonexistent internet connectivity is the norm, we often had to rely on Milepost (a bound book) as our only source of information.
  • There is a lot of chatter about Starlink satellite internet service. We did not have that service on our trip.
  • We had Verizon and we were allowed ½ gigabyte per day, per device, at no additional cost.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali – Denali National Park, Alaska



  • We highly recommend taking your bikes. Our folding Dolphin eBikes gave us access to many Happy Trails as we journeyed the Pacific coast to Alaska.


  • From San Diego to Alaska and back, wide open rivers, lakes and seas beaconed our inflatable kayaks to go sightseeing from the water.


  • We experienced some minimal damage – which is almost impossible to avoid when RVing to Alaska.
    • The fresh water tank cracked and leaked; the air conditioner overheated and died; we bent an Airstream aluminum panel; our main door came loose on the hinges; we broke an awning clamp; and, our water pump malfunctioned. But, we returned with our original windshield, tires, axels and suspension. Many overlanders are not so lucky.
  • On the way home we stopped by Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair in Sacramento, California where Vinnie, Clayson and the team attended to the repairs. Our advice is to make reservations with your technician before and after going to Alaska.
Washing ‘Beauty’ in Tok, Alaska


  • Alaska can be a very dangerous place.
  • In early July – a few days after we crossed the river (photo below) – the highway washed out.
The AlCan wiped out a few days after we crossed.
turnagain arm mudflats
  • Alaska is a place of extremes, and that includes the weather anomalies which 2022 is on record as one of the most severe. Lucky us.
    • High winds, record rain and snow, avalanches, landslides, floods, and fires, all led to nearly a dozen disaster declarations in Alaska during Summer 2022.
Teslin, Yukon, flooded out
Our anticipated campground in Teslin, Yukon, flooded out.
Klondike Highway as we pass a fire near the road.
Klondike Highway as we pass a fire near the road.
bear whistler british columbia
While cycling, we accidentally came within 15-feet of this bear.
  • Wildlife encounters on the road are a sure thing. They will either be standing there grazing or waiting to cross, or just standing in the road, or jumping in front of your vehicle. We had all of those experiences several times. Always be on the lookout.
This young man totaled his car when he veered off the road to avoid a herd of caribou.
  • One of the most dangerous (and scenic) roads in the world is The James Dalton Highway. We, sadly, passed on the opportunity. If we were younger and/or the weather hadn’t been so wet we may have made a different decision.
  • The Seward Highway, between Anchorage and Seward, is one of the most dangerous (and beautiful) roads in the United States and we took the risk and loved it. These are decisions you make based on instinct.
Seward Highway, Alaska
Seward Highway, Alaska

Crossing the Border into Canada

  • We had to fill out our travel plans and arrival date using ArriveCan on our computer or smart phone.
    • As of late 2022, our research shows ArriveCan is no longer needed or accepted for crossing the border by land.
  • While a passport is highly recommended, you will need acceptable identification to cross into Canada. This requirement can change, so be proactive and check out the latest rules at the Canadian Government’s travel website
  • US Citizens with DUIs, Driving Under the Influence, and certain other convictions may be denied entry into Canada.
  • You may experience a 3-5 minute question and answer session, or a one hour inspection of your rig.
    • It appears random to us, but other factors may play a role in your encounter.
    • We have experienced both extremes – the short wave through, and an hour-long inspection.
  • Check out this list of forbidden items.
    • The list of contraband is updated and changed often, so check it just before you plan to enter Canada.
  • Carrying bear spray into Canada is legal if the container is bigger than 9oz, and the label states USDA repellent registration. We declared it and showed it to the border agent with no problems, no delay.
  • Do not attempt to bring CBD (or any illicit drugs) across the border. It is illegal and the consequences may be dire.
  • The border agent will want to see your dogs rabies paperwork.
Chickaloon⁩, Alaska
Near Chickaloon⁩, Alaska

Crossing the Border into the United States

  • Entering into the United States does not require prior notification.
  • While a passport is highly recommended, you have a few other options for a valid identification, check out the latest at the US Government’s travel website.
  • You may experience a 3-5 minute question and answer session or a thorough inspection of your rig with a significant delay.
    • It appears random to us, but other factors may play a role in your encounter.
    • On the extreme, we have been asked a few friendly questions before a wave-through, and we’ve experienced a 30-minute, nerve-wracking interrogation followed with a welcome to the USA.
  • Check out this list of forbidden items to bring across the border.
    • This list is updated and changes often, so check it right before you plan to enter the United States.
    • The civil penalty for failing to declare agricultural items at U.S. ports of entry will cost first time offenders $300 per item.
    • To avoid receiving a penalty, you should declare all agricultural items and present the list, in writing, to Customs and Border Protection for inspection so that an agriculture specialist can determine if it is admissible.
    • Over the years we’ve learned that it’s just easier to cross into the United States without any fruit, veg, eggs or meat.
  • Do not try to bring CBD (or any illicit drugs) over the border. It is illegal.
  • We have already mentioned this above under “Pets,” but thought it important to include it here.
    • They may want to see your dog’s rabies paperwork, but we have never been asked for it.
    • The State of Alaska requires a pet health certificate dated within 30 days of entering Alaska.
    • The Border is staffed by Federal Agents, not Alaska State agents, and Federal agents will not ask to see a current pet health certificate.
    • We had a pet health certificate from our veterinarian, but not one obtained within 30 days of entering Alaska. No one ever asked to see it.
Sutton, Alaska
Near Sutton, Alaska

General Observations

  • Unless a cruise ship is in town, you will not experience crowds in Alaska. Sometimes we went days without seeing anyone. If you want to be around people then Anchorage or Fairbanks is a good bet.
  • Alaska is one of the few places in the world where there is no schedule, so practice your powers of spontaneity and make last-minute decisions which will probably inspire your best experiences and memories.
Chicken, Alaska
South of Chicken, Alaska


  • Antlers or horns?
    • Deer, caribou (reindeer), elk and moose have antlers, not horns
    • Cows, sheep, goats and buffalo have horns.
    • Antlers shed every year and grow back, horns do not.
    • You don’t want to run into either one. 😉
reindeer Palmer, Alaska
Near Palmer, Alaska

What would we have done differently?

  • Get into Alaska faster. In hindsight, we should have entered Alaska sooner and taken our time in Yukon and B.C. while on the way south – but next year conditions may be flipped. In May and June 2022, the weather was unusually fair and sunny in Fairbanks and Anchorage while it was unusually cold, windy and wet in Victoria. We advise having more than one plan depending on weather and how the melt is progressing in the passes.
  • Except for a few tourist hot spots like Denali National Park and Seward, we didn’t need to make reservations in British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territory and Alaska. Over-planning hindered our spontaneity somewhat.
  • We were completely unprepared for the mosquitos. We wish we had purchased our bug gear before heading north.
  • We were stunned with the beauty of British Columbia and Yukon. We should have planned more time in those two Canadian provinces.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali National Park, Alaska

Final Thoughts

  • Traveling to Alaska by land was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us. We heard that it changes people and we returned more grateful for our home-planet and more invested in protecting wildlife and habitat.
  • There is a reason only 5% of tourists travel by land to Alaska and 95% go to Alaska by airplane or ocean cruise ships. We’re fortunate to be part of the few who explored the interior and dipped our toes into the Great North.
  • Was it easy? No!
  • Was it worth it? Absolutely!
  • Do we regret the experience? Not at all!
  • Will we do it again? Yes, when Airstreams fly!
Horseshoe Lake in Denali National Park, Alaska
Horseshoe Lake in Denali National Park, Alaska

If you have ever driven to Alaska, please share your experience in the comment section below. Or if you have any comments or questions, please ask.

Heading north to Fairbanks
Heading north to Fairbanks

Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series

  • Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
    • Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay – Chula Vista, California
    • Malibu Beach RV Resort – Malibu, California
  • Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
    • Morro Bay State Park – Morro Bay, California
  • Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
    • Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park – Santa Cruz, California
  • Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
    • San Francisco RV Park – Pacifica, California
  • Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
    • Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair – Wilton, California
    • High Water Brewery (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Harmony Wynelands (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Van Ruiten Family Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Four Fools Winery (Harvest Host location) – Rodeo, California
    • Lawson’s Landing – Dillon Beach, California
    • Mia Bea Wines (Harvest Host location) – Redwood Vally, California
    • Johnny’s at the  Beach – Eureka, California
  • Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
    • Harris Beach State Park – Brookings, Oregon
    • Bay Point Landing Resort – Coos Bay, Oregon
    • Blue Herron French Cheese (Harvest Host location) – Tillimook, Oregon
    • Seaside RV Resort – Seaside, Oregon
  • Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park – Olympia, Washington
    • Salt Creek Recreation Area – Port Angeles, Washington
  • Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
    • Weir’s Beach RV Resort – Victoria, British Columbia
  • Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
    • Riverside RV Resort – Whistler, British Columbia
    • Big Bar Rest Area – Clinton, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • Alexander MacKenzie Landing – Mackenzie, British Columbia
  • Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
    • Northern Lights RV Park – Dawson Creek, British Columbia
    • Former Prophet River State Park – Peace River, British Columbia
    • Hay Lake – Fort Liard, Northwest Territories
    • Northern Rockies Lodge and RV Park – Muncho Lake, British Columbia
    • Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park – Liard River, British Columbia
  • Chapter 11 – Yukon
    • Watson Lake Visitors Center Parking Lot – Watson Lake, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Norsemen RV Park – Atlin, British Columbia
    • Hot Springs Campground – Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Real Canadian Superstore Parking Lot, Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Gold Rush Campground – Dawson City, Yukon
  • Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
    • Downtown Chicken Cafe and Saloon
  • Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
    • Tundra RV Park – Tok, Alaska
    • Gulkana River Rest Stop – Gulkana, Alaska
    • Bear Paw RV Park – Valdez, Alaska
  • Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
    • Grand View Cafe and RV Park – Glacier View, Alaska
    • Alaska Raceway Park (Harvest Host location) – Palmer, Alaska
    • Ship Creek RV Park – Anchorage, Alaska
  • Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
    • Heritage RV Park – Homer Spit, Alaska
    • Marathon RV Campground – Seward, Alaska
  • Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
    • Williwaw Campground – Whittier, Alaska
    • Talkeenta Camper Park – Talkeetna, Alaska
  • Chapter 17 – Denali
    • Riley Creek Campground – Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs
    • Riverview RV Park – North Pole, Alaska
    • Chena Hot Springs Campground – Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines
    • Fast Eddy’s Restaurant Parking Lot – Tok, Alaska
    • Gravel Turnout – Beaver Creek, Yukon
    • Gravel Turnout – Destruction Bay, Yukon
    • Haines Hitch-UP RV Park – Haines, Alaska
  • Chapter 20 – South to the Lower 48
    • Gravel Turnout – Haines Junction, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Jade City Parking Lot – Jade City, British Columbia
    • Mehan Lake Rest Area – Bell II, British Columbia
    • Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park – Telkwa, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • 100 Mile House Municipal Campground – 100 Mile House, British Columbia
    • Mt. Paul Golf Course (Harvest Host location) – Kamloops, British Columbia
    • Crowsnest Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Cawston, British Columbia
  • Final Chapter – Lessons Learned
    • Philosophy
    • Preparation
    • Planning
    • Mileposts (the book)
    • Roads
    • Weather
    • Camping
    • Cash and Currency
    • Clothing
    • Food
    • Wildlife
    • Bugs
    • Fuel
    • Dump Stations and Potable Water
    • Pets
    • Internet Connectivity
    • Hiking
    • Cycling
    • Kayaking
    • Damage
    • Dangers
    • Canada Border Crossing
    • US Border Crossing
    • General Observations
    • Serendipity
    • Final Thoughts
    • Our Camp Sites

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

82 thoughts on “Airstreaming to Alaska – Final Chapter: Lessons Learned

  1. After reading this, I joyfully filed it away in my “Travel One Day” Bookmark file! What a wonderful share!

    1. Roberta, so great to hear from you. I remember the days back when you worked at Lamb’s Players Theatre when I was there. Hope someday you find a way to travel to Alaska! Jim

    1. Ralph, you are right is was a huge learning experience. But… what a wonderful experience all the same. Jim

      1. Life altering adventure. We spent t 5 months last year from Detroit to Alaska and down west coast to Northern California and Bend OR then back. 17,000 round trip. I know you enjoyed it too. Hope to see you sometime.

  2. LOVE this! So comprehensive and useful. Bookmarked for the future…bc after years of van travel, my wife and I are heading out fulltime soon in our new (to us) 2017 Flying Cloud. Not gonna start with Alaska, nooo way, but we will get up there! Thanks for putting such great information into the Internets for newbies and experts alike. See you out there somewhere, I hope! Cheers.

    1. Dakota, congratulations to you two with your purchase of your 2017 Flying Cloud Airstream and your decision to full-time soon. You will love it. Glad you found the information valuable. And we too hope ours paths cross someday out there in the big big world. Jim

      1. Thanks! We’re looking forward to a more chilled out pace (van life can be so gogogo) and of course more space. Our 19YO cat needs a nice bench, after all 🙂 Plus now I can travel with a digital piano, woohoo! Enjoy the rest of your summer, ciao for now.

  3. Carmen and Jim, what a story! I always appreciate the art, the science, and the philosophy that you bring to your podcast. I know if Laura and I ever attempt to be part of that 5% that we will refer to your experiences and your documentation on traveling to Alaska. Thank you so much for your hard work and for sharing your experiences.

    1. Dean, thank you for your kind words. We are so happy to be able to share what we learned from our Alaska journey. Glad you find value in it. Thank you for following Living in Beauty. Say hi to Laura for us. Jim

  4. We went north last summer up the cassiar and down the Alaska highway. We looked into it and went early May and it was before the bugs woke up! It was an amazing journey weather was great. No bugs. The only snag was the melt was severe because the weather was warm and the rivers were swollen and had a few washouts limiting travel. I’ll do it again!

    1. Rick, sounds like you had a fantastic time. So did we, in spite of the bad weather we experienced. Yep, we saw what the melt did to Teslin, Yukon. Almost the entire town was flooded, especially the campground we were going to stay in. Oh well, we camped at their rest stop instead. Stay safe out there! Jim

      1. We were three weeks up there were planning on longer but a medical visit to the doctor became necessary. Worked out all good. But left us wanting more. And no rainy days!

    1. Hey, maybe this post we convince your husband to work with you on a trip to the 49th. who knows? Glad it might help with the decision. 😉 Let us know if you ever drive up there. Jim

  5. We had our Alaskan adventure with AIROSMITH in 2019. Very similar trip, with many of the same takeaways. 6460 miles in 2.5 months. Drive up on the Alcan, returning on the Cassiar. The Milepost is an absolute must.

    1. James, glad to hear you went up with Airosmith. It is a great way to see stuff by going up the AlCan and coming down the Cassiar. 6460 miles in 2 months!!!! Wow!!!! Not sure we could do that. Congratulations! Jim

  6. We took our 5th wheel and stayed 14 months, renting a cabin for the winter. Agree with all of your final thoughts. If we make it back there, it will be by plane and renting a camper, as we did on our first trip, or purchase one, then sell it before leaving. It is about the journey, but the route was hard on us, our dogs, and our rig.

    1. Helen, what a unique idea. Carmen and I have been talking about this since you made this comment. Stay through the winter and rent a cabin. Brilliant. You get to enjoy all the seasons up there and really get to know the place. Your 2nd thought about flying up and either renting or buying and then selling is also a great idea. Thank you for sharing these. Jim

  7. We did a 45 day trip round trip from Seattle in 2019, up the AlCan and back down the Cassiar which was admittedly not enough time. We lessened the driving by taking the Alaska Ferry between Whittier and Valdez (lots to see enroute) and between Haines and Skagway, taking the BC Ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island (18 hours from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. beautiful scenery and a deluxe ferry experience) and the Washington State Ferry from Sydney BC to Anacortes (sadly this route is out of service until 2030). We did make BC provincial park campground reservations one to two weeks out which snagged us great lake front sites. Highly recommend Boya Lake PP and Meziadin PP. We were much more flexible on this trip, turning back on the Dempster Hwy as we weren’t sufficiently prepared and then using this time to later visit McCarthy and Kennicott. We may go again but there are so many places to go…

    1. Jill, 45 days does seem like a fast trip that far up there. With our dog, ferries were a little more difficult to work out, so we skipped them. We have heard you see some amazing things while cruising on them though. When we were in Victoria in May 2022 the ferries had stop taking folks from the island over to the San Juans. We were so disappointed. We will check out Boya Lake, Meziadin, McCarthy and Kennicott. Thank you! Jim

  8. Truly stunning. Vicariously following you guys is the closest I’ll ever get to a road trip to and through Alaska. Thanks so much for creating and sharing your adventure.

    1. Jennifer, it was an incredible experience. For us, a once-in-a-lifetime one. We are so glad we did it while our health was good. Thank you for following Living in Beauty. Jim

  9. How about “Don’t plan on going more than 10mph between the border stations up by Beaver Creek”. Man I don’t know who is responsible for road maintenance up there but they should be fired.

    1. Seth, I can tell by your comment you have personally traveled between Tok and Destruction Bay. 🤪 I did some research on why that section of the road is so bad. It seems the road is laid on top of glacier frost. It is a constant problem that they are very much aware of but short of re-routing the road at great cost and adding many more miles, they are stuck with what they have and must constantly repair the damage. It was definitely the slowest drive of our entire trip. Jim

    1. Kim, enjoy our journey. There is a lot of beautiful scenery up there! Glad the blog has helped you. Jim

    1. Kelly, we took a lot of notes during our trip and this blog is the consolidation of all that work. We are glad we wrote stuff down as it happened or we would have never remembered most of this. Heck, as they say, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast today. 😊 Thanks for following Living in Beauty. Jim

      1. We are planning a trip to Alaska next summer. Your writings will be our guide, along with milepost. Thanks for your diligence in chronically your amazing travels!

    1. Joe, yep it was quite the journey. A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for us since we will not being doing it again. We are so glad we did it and that the Airstream survived it, as well as the two of us. Hope to see you two in the spring next year. Jim

  10. I enjoyed your mile by mile narration of your trip to Alaska and back. We’ve been to Alaska once by cruise and rental RV. It was too short. Unfortunately, we won’t have a return trip by RV because our Winnie is to old and has too many miles on her. She has carried us around the lower 48 for the last 15 years (155,000 miles) and is probably ready for a rest. I’ve been following your blog for several years and really enjoy it. Safe travels.

    1. Vince, thank you for following Living in Beauty all these years. Wow! 155,000 miles in the last 15 years. Wow! We have heard that many folks do what you did, fly to Alaska and rent an RV. That idea has merits. Stay safe out there! Jim

  11. It’s on our bucket list and the primary reason we bought an Airstream. Waiting for husband to retire and a few other things. Can not wait to go!! Great info!

    1. Alice, so happy to hear that you and your husband have plans to drive to Alaska with your Airstream. It is quite an adventure that you will never forget. I remember the days waiting to retire. Glad you found the information helpful. Stay safe out there and happy travels. Jim

  12. We are from Los Osos, (near Morro Bay) in fact one of your photos looks like it was taken at the Elfin Forest, just down the street from us. We went to Alaska last summer as well! We crossed into Canada on June 24th, into Alaska proper on July 8th. We made it to many of the places you mentioned, plus we drove the Dalton Highway, camping at both the Arctic Circle campground and Marion Creek. We also drove the Top of the World Highway but had nicer weather. We attempted to drive on the Dempster out of Dawson Creek but had a leaf spring break on our trailer at Eagle Plains so only got halfway to the Arctic Ocean. We crossed back into Washington State on September 6th. All told we were camping for 103 days. It was a great trip, even with all the rain… In fact we loved it so much we are going back July 2024. Hoping to stay long enough to see the Northern Lights!

    1. Cathy, it sounds like your Alaska trip last year was very similar to ours. We crossed into Canada on May 1st and into Chicken Alaska July 10th and back to the lower 48 on September 18th. We weren’t up for the Dalton or Denser Highways. Sure glad you had better weather on the Top of the World Highway. We wish we had waited in Dawson City for better weather. Glad to hear you are thinking about going back. Probably not in the cards for us. We rarely go back twice to a place. Seeing the Northern Lights was an amazing experience. Hope you are able to do that. Stay safe out there and happy travels! Jim

      By the way, yes, we did take photo at the Elfin Forest.

    1. Cheryl, It is so great to hear from you. It is hard to believe you and I met more than 50 years ago in high school. Where did all those years go? I hope life has been good to you. Stay safe out there! Jim

  13. I found it interesting that some rental cars are not allowed on the top of the world highway.
    What a lovely trip. I loved your travelog. I thought of mom and dad making the trip years ago, and wished you were there with them. Your writing is well done! Makes me want to go in my 5th wheel.

    1. Cynthia, I have never heard that some rental cars are not allowed on the Top of the World Highway… interesting. Glad you enjoy the blogs. I remember you talking about your parents and their trips, including Alaska. Love you Cynthia! Jim

    1. Judy, thank you for letting us know you love reading our posts, and thank you for your kind words. Jim

  14. Wow! It took me a while to read through all this because there is so much here – all of it so helpful for those planning to take on this epic trip! What a great resource you’ve put together!

    And while I know you had a lot of not-so-great weather, Wow! – the photos are just amazing. The scenery, the wildlife, all of it. I wonder if Alaska can ever be topped when it comes to these things. My guess is this will have set a whole new bar for your travels, but when balanced against the tough stuff, I’m sure Colorado and Utah will seem pretty darn fine too. 🙂

    1. Laura, yep, it did turn out to be our longest blog post ever. Just categorizing it and going over it many times editing took a long time. Whew! Glad that is done. 🤪 Bringing the “Airstreaming to Alaska” to its conclusion was a night of celebration. When we think back to the start of the trip in January 2022 and that we just now published the final chapter, we realize Alaska consumed more than a year and a half of our lives. The journey and the journal. Now it is time to refocus on our next phase. Hopefully longer stays and less miles. We will see what life has to offer in the coming years. We are toying with next summer up in the mountains of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. No set plans, just talk. We do plan to be near Dallas for the April 2024 total eclipse of the Sun. Laura, we do so appreciate the years you have been following Living in Beauty and commenting on each post. It means a lot to us. Hey, someday we may travel overseas and pay a visit to Lisbon, who knows? Stay safe out there! Jim

  15. An extensive conclusion and Alaska series, you two! Sorry you had bad luck with the weather. I agree that one needs the entire season to visit Alaska – and to get there. I did this trip way back when, in the summer of 2004, and wished I’d had more time in the Yukon and BC.

    1. Liesbet, all those notes we took during the journey came in handy to create this post. The challenge was figuring out which notes we important and separating them into categories. It is a shame the weather was so bad for us, but listing to the news, that journey tis year would have been just as bad, if not worse. The fires this year up there are really bad. I wonder how much as changed sine you were up there 2004. I am sure the glaciers have retreated some. That is one of our regrets that we did not spend more time in Yukon and BC. So glad to hear from you! Jim

  16. We’re setting out next week on our first-ever non-tent camping adventure (AK, YT, NWT), renting a truck camper in Anchorage. Some wonderfully useful tips in your article! Thanks a million.

    1. Judy, we hope some our notes from our Alaska trip will be of assistance to you. Happy to help! Jim

  17. Wow!
    What a wealth of information.
    Epic Trip
    Thank you for sharing

    What was your experience with dog food and meds (including flea and tick and heartguard if Pico takes that) during boarder crossings?

    1. Dean, thanks! Glad you found value in our notes. We were not asked about meds or dog food when we crossed over any of the borders, so it was not an issue for us. We do have Bravecto for ticks and fleas and Milbeguard for heartworms. Pico’s dog food is made by us since he no longer has any teeth. Thank you for following Living in Beauty these 7+ years 🤪. Stay safe out there! Jim

  18. Just added your website to the home page on my phone. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures.

  19. We drove to AK in 2015, with a 32’Jayco in tow. Left May 22, arrived back at home in Ohio Sept 1. We also drove a total of 12,000 miles. We only scratched the surface of all the beauty to see. I agreed with 99% of your advice. We did find, however, that private campgrounds were perfectly acceptable, since we are not dry campers. Your observation about how the weather affects the trip were right on! We happened to hit a more dry year, and mosquitoes were almost non-existent. We did get delayed because of a wildfire, but not seriously. As to Rx, we were eailiy able to time our loops through more settled areas for when we needed refills, and simply transferred prescriptions to the local Walmart. We, too, decided the wise thing was to slow down on those roads and had no damage during the trip…until we were headed back across the Midwest towards home when a passing truck’s tire threw a rock into our windshield. We did arrive home and the next camping trip discovered a spring on the camper suspension was damaged, and when we had the repairs done, the brake mechanism in one side of the trailer had not only been damaged, it had fallen out somewhere. Thankful a 1-ton pickup took care of braking without complaint. Would we do it again? With out a doubt, though for various reasons, we have decided to stop traveling with our truck and camper. Everyone should take at least one trip there!

    1. Jane, your 12,000 mile trek in 2015 sounds fantastic. We agree to really see everything up there, it would require a lot more time than we would have in one summer. Glad to hear your year was a much drier year than 2022. Our only real delay due to fires was trying to head north from Whitehorse to Dawson City. We hung out for 3 days in the Great Canadian Superstore parking lot. Not so bad since there were two breweries within a 10 minute walk.🍻 Sorry to hear about your windshield damage and suspension damage. I guess we should all feel lucky. We think we had damage to one of the brakes on the trailer, but it only manifested itself after we got back down to the lower 48. We do agree with you that everyone should take at least one trip to the 49th state. Sorry to hear you have stopped traveling with your truck and camper, but we totally understand that things happen. We are just thankful we have had the opportunity to do this full time for more than 7 years. Stay safe out there! Jim

  20. Words cannot do justice to the writing and editing and records keeping you created. Thank You – for all who will read your travel logs in the future. My regret is that my bride of 52.5 years – Jeanette & I never did a road trip through Canada/ Yukon/ Alaska although we owned 4 class A motorhomes from 1995 thr 2020. We did complete a AK cruise, flight to Fairbanks, train ride though Denali returning to Anchorage. Two word description = PRISTINE & UNFORGETABLE. My ADVICE to your present & future readers is TRAVEL & ENJOY LIFE while you have your health, energy, and curiosity. Life moves very quickly – don’t lose your opportunity.
    Too many people delay and live to regret later as circumstances change.
    Regretfully, Jeanette passed on Aug 29,2020 & Wolf my dog & I miss her so very much – but I still have our travel and camping memories forever.

  21. Hey Dave,

    Jim read your bittersweet post to me today. Your memories of traveling with Jeannette are so touching. There is something reverent about sharing a place you’ve seen for the first time with your life partner – to see that place through their eyes as well as your own. The couples we meet on the road – those who have found their pace and manage as a team – they seem to glow with such a deep and gratifying joy. We see that glow in you. Well done.

    Hugs to Wolf 🐾💕

    Safe & Happy Travels!


  22. Carmen & Jim, what a fabulous Alaskan journey you had! I’m sure you’re grateful you did it when you did…I think we’ve lost our momentum for an overland trip to Alaska, LOL. But we’re sure happy that we had almost eight years of full-time travel, and for all of the adventures of those years. At this point, we’re enjoying shorter trips of two to three months at a time, and Alaska really needs to be done the way you did it.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us through your stories and beautiful photos!

    1. Laurel, thank you for your kind words. Yes, our Alaska adventure was fabulous. We are thankful we did it when we did. This year all across British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska, there have been so many fires. We have read of people’s experience of smoke and unbreathable air, so we figure all the bad weather we experienced last year is better than breathing smoke. Congratulations on your 8 years of full-time travel! We must have started about the same time you two did. We started July 2016. Carmen and I have started talking about the possibility of slowing down. Still traveling full-time, but shorter distances and longer stays. We will see how that pans out. Your three month trips sounds like an excellent option! Thank you for following Living in Beauty. Stay safe out there! Jim

    1. Josie, glad you found our blog post and found value in the information as you plan your trip to Alaska. We hope your trip is as memorable as ours. We will always recall the amazing scenery, wonderful people, and fascinating animals we encountered on our trip. If you ever have any questions, please reach out to us. Stay safe out there! Jim

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