Western Canada and Alaska is a calling for many RVers. They are destinations unlike any other and attract thousands of RVers every year. Planning is always considered the most exciting part of any trip. But when driving to Alaska through British Columbia and the Yukon, it’s the most important part of the trip.
“There are some people that like to wing it, but I strongly suggest preparing for a trip like this,” says Barbara Dobree, an avid RVer who completed a 12,500-kilomter round trip from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to the Yukon, Alaska, Northwest Territories and Alberta in July 2016. “It took about a year to properly plan, but during my travels I had very few problems.”
Dobree, 70, of Comox, British Columbia, went on the journey with her partner towing a 13-foot, fibreglass Trillium trailer with a Toyota Tacoma 4×4. Never one to leave anything to chance, the former university educator spent the better part of a year addressing trailer and tow vehicle preventive maintenance issues to ensure a smooth three-month journey. After all, Dobree`s travels led her to such routes as the Alaskan Highway, as well as the Dempster Highway, which connects the Klondike Highway in the Yukon to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, on the Mackenzie River Delta.
Additionally, Dobree told RVlife.com she had hoses, belts, spark plugs, and four tires replaced. She also brought along extra spare tires and fuel. Dobree`s trailer, too, went through a minor makeover to ensure the propane was running properly, leaks to roof vents and windows were repaired, tires replaced, and the wheel bearings re-packed.
“I heard horror stories about the Dempster with RVers blowing tires. I didn’t blow any, but I saw people that did,” says Dobree. “The trailer is in good condition but some repairs were in order. Also, a lot of service was done to my tow vehicle.”
While visiting many scenic regions such as Fort St. James, Atlin and the Nass River Valley in British Columbia; Whitehorse and Dawson City in the Yukon; Skagway in Alaska; plus Fort MacPherson and Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, Dobree suggests RVers need to establish their own list of priorities and essentials. These are a few of ideas to consider:
- Research. Decide where and when you want to go and determine the best time of year to visit. Then, plan the safest route. Research every highway and note services along the way. Keep in mind that routes like the Dempster Highway only has one gas station in approximately 400-plus miles. Also, weather conditions vary drastically day to day.
- Buy a 12V air compressor. Flat tires occur when you least expect it. A portable air compressor or even a tire repair kit may just get you to the next service center.
- Use Solar Power. Dry, rustic camping in these regions is common and there are many solar power systems available for your needs.
- Buy a Pop Up Screen. This was a lifesaver for Dobree. Bugs are everywhere in the summer months so be sure to protect yourself (and save your sanity).
- Bring Back up parts. Carry extra fuel, important parts, and two spare tires for both vehicles.
- Plan Safely. Gain a peaceful mind when navigating with the use of RV trip planning apps.
“Getting my truck and trailer in order was the best thing I did,” says Dobree. “Additionally, research was essential. I made a point to see the attractions I may never see again. That was important to me. ”
Plan Your Campgrounds when Traveling Western Canada and Alaska
“We camped 91 nights and half of those were free through the use of the BC Recreation Sites and Trails,” says Dobree. “I did a lot of research on those. The majority of these sites were on a lake or river and were just gorgeous. All had picnic tables and an outhouse. But the great thing is the fact that nobody is there, except for maybe the odd fisherman in the evening.”
For some, a journey this extensive may be nerve-racking. Yet, as Dobree explains , pursue your goals and if you properly prepare, it will go smoothly.
“I suggest going despite any apprehension,” explains Dobree. “The Alaska Highway is so much better than what it used to be. We took our time and the trip just blew me away. But to avoid problems, I really recommend proper preparation no matter what type of camping you enjoy.”