Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 20: South to the Lower 48

Posted August 5, 2023 – Narrated by Jim
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Airstreaming to Alaska

Our Alaska overland adventure, beginning in San Diego, had finally come to an end – but endings don’t come fast in Alaska. The adventure isn’t really over until you reach the lower 48, almost 2,000 miles away.

Cassiar Highway near Meziadin Lake, British Columbia
Cassiar Highway near Meziadin Lake, British Columbia

It’s like that time you hiked up to Half Dome and looked down into the valley from the summit and realized you were only halfway home and it was getting dark. It felt like the finish line kept moving farther and farther away. This part of the trip would be a push.

Haines Highway near Mosquito Lake, Alaska
The Haines Highway near Mosquito Lake, Alaska

Weather predictions of snow and rough weather snapped the whip. We gave ourselves ten days. With plenty of sleep and down time, we should make it back safely.

Haines Highway near Dezadeash Lake, Alaska
Haines Highway near Dezadeash Lake, Alaska

As we turned south, the car-talk took a “Holy Cow! We did it!” turn as we logged notes about the journey, everything from the moment we made the decision to go to Alaska; the years of research, planning and prepping; the delays due to COVID and closed borders; and what we learned while there. We were grateful to be heading home, victorious.

We will miss Alaska…

‎⁨Lutak Inlet⁩, ⁨Alaska⁩
‎⁨Lutak Inlet⁩, ⁨Alaska⁩

but it was comforting to pass through Yukon and British Columbia again. These provinces hold their own in splendorous glacial scenery and a warm welcoming nature.

Leaving Alaska

Leaving Haines, our journey took us through British Columbia for a few miles…

Canadian border check-point
Canadian border check-point as you leave Haines, Alaska

then, into Yukon…

yukon border

where we boondocked off the Alaska Highway in a gravel turnout near…

Haines Junction

haines junction
Our free boondocking site near Haines Junction
Coordinates 62.173000, -140.679000 (62°10’22.8″ N 140°40’44.4″ W)
haines junction

Just in time for Happy Hour, we poured the last few splashes of a well-traveled bottle of homemade limoncello – a gift, from our friend, Trish – into the hand-carved ice glasses from Chena Hot Springs and raised a toast to Alaska.

chena hot springs ice glasses
chena hot springs ice glasses
chena hot springs ice glasses

In keeping with tradition, we dashed the glasses on the rocks to celebrate.

Teslin Rest Stop

The scenery from Haines Junction to Teslin, Yukon, is breathtaking.

jakes corner
Just east of Jakes Corner, Yukon
alaska highway
Alaska Highway near ‎⁨Teslin River⁩ and Johnsons Crossing⁩, ⁨Yukon⁩

As we passed through Whitehorse, Yukon, we ducked into the Burnt Toast Café , our favorite spot for a good, hearty bite.

burnt toast whitehorse
Reuben with brined pastrami, sauerkraut, grainy mustard and Gruyere cheese on marble rye, and a side salad.

Then, pulled into the same rest area we stayed in June, across the bridge from Teslin with a magnificent view of the lake.

The Teslin rest stop, our free boondocking site for the night
Coordinates 60.160825, -132.693421 (60°09’39.0″N 132°41’36.3″W)
Our view from the Teslin rest stop

We left the Alaska Highway near Watson Lake and turned south onto the Cassiar Highway.

The scenery on this highway is beautiful …

Cassiar Highway
Near the border of British Columbia on the Cassiar Highway
Cassiar Highway
Cassiar Highway north of Jade City, British Columbia

but the road was a challenge due to snow heaves and ongoing repairs.

alaska highway nugget city
Alaska Highway just west of Nugget City, right before we headed south on the Cassiar Highway – dirt and gravel
Cassiar Highway
Cassiar Highway north of Tā Ch’ilā Park

That evening we settled in for a free night’s sleep in the parking lot of

Jade City

jade city
Jade City, British Columbia
jade city
jade city

a settlement, well known to rock hounds. After buying a small gift for Carmen’s dad, we set out for a day of jaw-dripping views

Cassiar Highway
Cassiar Highway near Snowbank Creek
cassiar highway
Cassiar Highway near the Iskut River
cassiar highway
Cassiar Highway near Tatogga and Mount Edziza, British Columbia

and took an overnight pause at

Mehan Lake Rest Area

for a quiet night by the lake.

Our free boondocking campsite near Mehan Lake
Coordinates 56.726417, -129.780031 (56°43’35.1″N 129°46’48.1″W)

We would have been alone on the lake, but at dark we were joined by a group of hunters heading north for the opening of Elk season.

The following day, the views kept our heads turning.

cassiar highway
Near Bowser Lake, British Columbia
cassiar highway
Near Mount Pattullo, British Columbia
cassiar highway
North of ‎⁨Smithers⁩, ⁨British Columbia⁩

That night we hit the wall on long travel days, so we stopped for two nights at the

Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park

Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park

Our site overlooked the beautiful Bulkley river.

Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park

One of the campground owners greeted us with sad news. A few days earlier, her husband – in his late 70’s – had died while attending to maintenance on the shoreline. Campgrounds offered “for sale” by elderly owners was a common sight – one of the reasons why full-hook-up campsites were so few and far between.

Leaving Fort Telkwa, the scenery changed dramatically as we continued deeper into British Columbia. Civilization greeted us with the blessing of harvest-time. This familiar latitude warmed our hearts and made us smile.

cassiar highway
South of Telkwa, British Columbia

Prince George Walmart Parking lot

Ah, civilization! We nestled happily into the same comfortable spot at the Prince George Walmart parking lot where we stayed in May.

prince george walmart

100 Mile House Municipal Campground

The next day we gingerly picked our way through logging country, pulling over frequently to concede the road to people with jobs. Our view was fairly consistent …

cassiar highway

all the way to 100 Mile House.

The next day we stopped in fascinating Kamloops where we spent the night as Harvest Host guests at

Mount Paul Golf Course

Mount Paul Golf Course harvest host
Our free Harvest Host campsite at the Mount Paul Golf Course, Kamloops, British Columbia.

There, our friends Laura and Doug greeted us. They drove almost 100 miles from their lake house. We all went out for dinner and enjoyed a tour of the city of Kamloops, where we hope to visit again.

Crowsnest Vineyards

highway 97
‎⁨Highway 97 near Boulder Lake, ⁨British Columbia⁩

Now, on the final stretch, we followed the Amalfi-like shoreline of beautiful Lake Okanagan.

Lake Okanagan
Lake Okanagan, British Columbia

where we had our first introduction to British Columbia’s famous Wine Country.

Okanagan wine country

These picturesque mountains and lake valleys with hillside vineyards and orchards captured our attention. We could have crossed the border that day, but we had to make a Harvest Host stop at Crowsnest Vineyard in Cawston.

Crowsnest Vineyards
A Harvest Host with free overnight camping in the vines.

British Columbia Lake Country is now on our short list for Spring-Fall seasonal camping.

Crowsnest Vineyards

Fortunately Crowsnest had a table open at their world class restaurant where we enjoyed a celebratory “back to the lower 48” meal.

Crowsnest Vineyards
Orange Duck with broccoli and potatoes
Crowsnest Vineyards
Roasted eggplant, beets, pasta, and apples …
Crowsnest Vineyards
and Mr. Cream Puff joined us for dessert!

Now, just 14 miles to go. We used the quietest U.S. border crossing in Washington State, the Nighthawk Port of Entry in Loomis.

Canadian Border check-point
Canadian Border check-point just before the US Border check-point

The U.S. customs officer grilled us for more than 30 minutes, warning of heavy fines if we did not disclose a written list of each and every item of potential contraband in the truck and trailer, “You RVers are the worst offenders,” we were told. But we had no potential contraband or food. We’d taken our licks and learned that lesson in Victoria. After a very polite (and long) discussion we were waived a hand’s on inspection and allowed back into the States. Just before we pulled away the officer congratulated us on the condition of our rig. We were the best looking outfit he’d seen coming from Alaska. “Most of ’em are wrecks, barely able to drag their axels across the border,” he said.

Well okay. If that’s a Welcome Home, we’ll take it!

Stay tuned! The last chapter in the Alaska series, Lessons Learned, will be released soon with the details of what we wish we’d known or paid more attention to before we set out.

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 Valley, 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.