Lonnie and Sue - Traveling North America

2009 Alaska 1 - Travels to Skagway, Juneau, Chicken, Eagle, Tok, and Glen Highway

My campground rating system is on a scale of 5/5 with the first number being the levelness of the site and the second being the appearance.  A 3/3 would be an average site.

 I have left the prices in for comparison and to give a general idea of what to expect.  Depending on when you read this, factor in inflation.

You can read it through or select specific locations below.

 Travel Log - May 28 to May 31, then June 9 to June 16, 2009        [Tab 2009 Alaska1 ]

We came up the Alaska Highway.  At the Tagish junction we cut over to the South Klondike Highway and went to Skagway for 3 days.  See "Archives 2009" - "2009 Western Canada" TAB on the left for prior travel through Canada 

05-28-2009     Thur     Day 44      Trip Meter:   85.4   

Weather:  Overcast most of the day.  The sun did peek out a few time during the day but didn’t stay out long.  High of 61 today. 

Driving Directions:  Continued on YT 8 west.  At jct of YT 2, aka South Klondike Highway, took it south.  Tagish Road was a fair paved road with no shoulders.  South Klondike Highway was a fair paved road from the Tagish Road jct to Skagway.  The road summit is at 3,290 feet 11 miles north of Skagway.  It drops to sea level in 8 miles and the decline is easy to handle. 

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 9:50 AM.  Had our first mosquito problem last night.  We stopped at Frasier, BC (location of Canadian customs), and took pictures of the mountains.  I also took a video.

We stopped at the US/BC border and took pictures of the valley and mountains.  At US customs the only questions asked were do we have any pets and did we see many bears.

The drive from the jct to Skagway is a spectacular drive.  The mountains were covered with snow and some of the lakes were still frozen over.  It was a much prettier drive than when we were here in September 2005.

We met 11 tour buses on the drive in and saw several on the side of the road at overlooks.

  • Campsite:   Garden City RV Park, Skagway, AK - 3 nights - site 3-0 row 2 - gravel pad - pull thru - 30 amp, water, sewer, WiFi (Cost $5 for 1 hr, $10.00 for 2 hrs, and $20 for 4½ hrs) - Good Sam Park - Cost $32.50 per night - Saved $10.50 - Rating 4/3 - Got setup at 12:40 PM.  Did have cable but the company went bankrupt this past winter. 

There are 4 cruise ships in the harbors.  Needed to get the pickup washed but the only car wash in town closed last year. 

05-29-2009     Fri     Day 45    

Weather:  Light mist all morning through mid afternoon.  Overcast all day.  High winds in afternoon and evening.  High of 50 degrees. 

Days Activities:   We drove out Dyea Road.  The first 1½ miles is paved, then 5 miles of hard packed gravel on a narrow twisting road, then pavement again at the Recreational area.  We did not drive through the campground but did take a 4-wheel road out to the tide water area.  The road is too narrow for our motorhome.   

Returned to Skagway and went to the 2:30 PM showing of “Days of ’98 Show”.  It was about the last few weeks of the life of Soapy Smith, the king of Skagway in 1898.  Cost $20.00 each.  This is the 83rd year of the show. 

For more about Skagway see the 2005 log.  I don’t want to repeat myself.  However, I did fail to mention in 2005 that the sidewalks are wooden.

05-30-2009     Sat     Day 46    

Weather:  Overcast in the morning with periodic sun during the afternoon.  High in the low 50’s.

Days Activities:   Arrived at the small boat harbour at 7:30 AM for out boat ride to Juneau.  Stopped at Haines, 15 miles away, then on to Yankee Cove, 75 miles from Haines.  Yankee Cove is 33 miles from Juneau.  Then we boarded a tour bus for the ride into Juneau.  

On the boat ride we saw:

  • Eagles – no pictures, too far away.
  • Seals – We took pictures.
  • Sea Lions – We took pictures.  I took a video.
  • Humpback whales – no pictures.  Several sightings but all in a distance.

Saw the Eldred Lighthouse that is located between Haines and Juneau.  The captain stopped on the way back and we took pictures.  The lighthouse was built in 1906 and automated in 1972.  It is currently for sale.  

At Juneau the tour bus did a tour of the city then dropped us off for 3 hours.  We went to lunch then took a tour of the state capital.   

Juneau is built on the side of a hill.  The capital is on 4th street that is about 400 feet above the lower part of town.  I took a picture from the front of the capital and there is a cruise ship 4 blocks away.  The streets are very narrow and mostly one-way.  It is a cute town. 

Our campsite at Garden City RV Park, Skagway, AK

Our boat to Juneau.

Juneau receives an average of 100 inches of rain annually and 100 inches of snow annually.  There is an average of 44 days of sunny days a year.  Last year there were only 24 sunny days.  It sounds like a very gloomy place to live.  We saw a lot of bars in downtown.   

At 3:15 PM we boarded the tour bus and were taken to the Mendenhall Glacier.  Not much to look at if you have seen other glaciers but probably awl inspiring if you had never seen one.  We took pictures. 

Our tour guide is an administrator for the prison system and does this on the weekends.  He is a 35 year resident of Juneau and talked all the time.  He writes poetry and songs and graced us with some of his original compositions.  He was funny at times also. 

On the boat we had a muffin and juice on the way over for breakfast.  Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were provided free - $1.00 for soft drinks - provided an apple for a snack.  On the way back we had clam chowder with a roll for dinner.   

The boat ride was pretty rough all the way in the morning.  The return ride was fairly smooth until after we passed Haines.  The last 10 miles was rougher than the morning trip.   

It was a good tour and we didn’t get back home until 8:15 PM.  Cost was $155.00 plus tax each – total cost was $325.50.  I gave the tour bus driver a $10.00 tip.  

Drove pickup 43.5 miles.

05-31-2009     Sun     Day 47      Trip Meter:   106.5

Fueled Coach:   At Skagway, AK.  $2.910.

Fueled Pickup:   At Skagway, AK.  $2.910.

Weather:  Sunny all day.  High in the high 50’s.  Beautiful day.

Driving Directions:   Took AK/YT 2 back to YT 1 (Alcan).  YT 2 merged with YT 1.  At YT 1 & 2  took it west about 7 miles to the campground that is 5 miles east of Whitehorse.  The section of road from Carcross to YT 1 was in good condition. 

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 9:50 AM.  Went into Skagway and fueled both vehicles.  Got hooked up and on the road at 10:20 AM.

Returned to Canada.  Go to "Archives 2009" - "2009 Western Canada" TAB on the left.  Return here after the Canada portion of the trip is completed .

06-09-2009     Tue     Day 56      Trip Meter:   112.9

Weather:  Sunny in the morning with some overcast in the afternoon.  High in the low 70’s.

Driving Directions:   Took the ferry across the Yukon River and took YT 9 west, aka “Top of the World Highway”.  At the border the road became “Boundary Road” for 13 miles then intersected with AK 5 south, aka “Taylor Highway”.  Stopped in Chicken, AK.  

YT 9 is a combination of pavement and gravel.  At one time it was all pavement but has deteriorated and reverted to gravel.  

  • First 8 miles was paved with 2 breaks – one a ½ mile and the other 200 yards.
  • Then 8 miles of gravel.
  • Then 2 miles of pavement and 5 miles of gravel.
  • Then 2 miles of pavement and 7½ miles of gravel.
  • Then ½ mile of pavement and 6 miles of gravel.
  • Then 200 yards of pavement and 2 miles of gravel.
  • Then 1 mile of pavement and 4½ miles of gravel.
  • Then 3 miles of pavement and ½ of gravel.
  • Then 15 miles of pavement to the border.

Boundary Road was gravel and rub board for all 13 miles.  AK 5 was gravel and rough for over half the way.  There were short sections that was smooth.

Fueled Pickup:   At the campground in Dawson City, YT.  $1.209 = $3.890.  Got a 4 cent a litre discount.

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 11:15 AM.  Got across the ferry and back on the road at 11:50 AM.

We didn’t take any pictures until the overlook at the border crossing.  The best part of the drive is the last 8 miles before the border crossing.  That section is magnificent – the entire drive is spectacular.  

We left Dawson at 1,090 feet and went to 3,800 feet then down to 3,200 feet then back up to 4,350 feet at the border crossing overlook.  It was a great roller coaster ride.  Lots of wildflowers on the Canadian side.

Questions at the border were did we buy anything in Canada that we were bring in, any guns, any agricultural products, any wildlife, cash over $10,000.  Very quick and easy.  Gained an hour when we crossed the border.

We had planned on fueling the motorhome in Chicken but diesel was $4.359.  Gas was $3.399.  Decided we didn’t really need diesel just now.

Was only able to get 3 nights with electric so had to take 2 nights of dry camping. 

  • Campsite:   Chicken Gold Camp Campground, Chicken, AK - 5 nights - site 1 - gravel pad - back-in - 15 amp, WiFi (FREE) - Rating 5/2 - Got setup at 4:15 PM.   

Commercial Campground - no discounts - 3 nights with electric @ $18.00 per night = $54.00. 

Passport America Park discount only good for 1 night of dry camping so 1 night @ $5.00 – saved $5.00. 

Commercial Campground - no discounts – 1 night of dry camping @ $10.00. 

06-10-2009     Wed     Day 57      

Weather:  Sunny in low 70’s. 

Days Activities:   Left at noon for a drive to Eagle.  Drove through the Walker Fork National Park Campground setting on the Walker Fork of the Southfork River on AK 5 north.  It had a dozen sites with some suitable for the coach – no services.

We stopped on AK 5 before the Eagle turnoff and took pictures.  Stopped on Fortymile Bridge and took pictures.  Fortymile River community is an active mining community – only a few houses.  Could not see any of the mining operation from the road.

We stopped at several overlooks and took pictures of the Fortymile River Canyon. 

Our campsite at Chicken Gold Camp Campground, Chicken, AK

After we made the turn to Eagle we drove 40 miles, in 2 hours, with a stop for a roadside lunch, and only met one truck with a belly dump trailer and one car.  Ten miles from Eagle met a second car.  That was a total of 60 miles in 2 hours 45 minutes and only saw 3 vehicles.   

We drove through the Eagle Campground - a National Park Campground.  It was a real nice campground with about 20 sites and was half full.  There was a 40’ bus in one site and several long trailers.

There was an ice jam and flood in Eagle in May of 2009 that we didn’t know about.  It completely wiped out all businesses on Front Street.  Front Street was about 10 feet above the Yukon River and the rest of the town was about 30 feet above the river.  The ice jammed up about 10 miles down river and as it backed up it was deposited on the lower level of town called Front Street.  There were chunks of ice the size of houses.  

Then another ice jam was created up river and when it broke free several days later the water rushed down river and flooded the upper level of town.  The native village, 2 miles up river from Eagle, was completely wiped out but fortunately a new village had been built a couple of years ago on higher grown and nearly all of the occupants had moved.  The old village was a tourist attraction.

Several houses on the upper level fell off when the ground under them was washed away.  I took pictures. 

We spent 1 hour in town.  The road out was in very good condition and well maintained.  It has everything – flat sections on the top ridge of the mountain where I could travel at 55 mph, narrow winding road down the sides of the mountains with switchbacks that slowed me down to 15 mph, 360 degree panoramic views, then tunnel vision views where you could only see straight down into valleys because of the closeness of the mountains.  The road had 2 elevation changes of over 2,000 feet each.  Drove the pickup 197 miles today.

06-11-2009     Thur     Day 58  

Weather:  Sunny and in the low 70’s.

Fueled Pickup:   At Tok.  $2.929.  Got a free car wash.

Days Activities:   Drove to Tok and got some groceries.  We drove through the West Fork Campground where we stayed in 2005.  Six pull-thru sites have been added.

No pictures on this road.  The only scenery is burned trees on both sides of the road.  Was able to travel the road at 50 to 55 mph in the car but know a lot of it will have to be at 40 mpg in the motorhome.  Drove the pickup 162 miles today.

06-12-2009     Fri     Day 59     

Weather:  Sunny in the morning with overcast and light rain in the evening.  High today in the high 60’s.

Days Activities:   Had to change sites from electric to dry.  Got moved at 11 AM.  Watched them set up for the festival tomorrow.  I took pictures of them setting up the stage.

There was suppose to be a jam session at 7:30 PM but a light rain started about 6 PM.  It let up around 9 PM so they kicked off the session then and it ran until around 2 AM.  We didn’t go because it was cold and damp.

06-13-2009     Sat     Day 60     

Weather:  Sunny and overcast in the morning with intermitting light rain in the afternoon.  In the high 60’s today.

Days Activities:   Chickenstock kicked off at 12:30 PM and ran until 2 AM.  The music was fair to good and we took a lot of pictures. 

A light rain started about 2 PM.  Sue returned to the motorhome but I stayed.  It was just a light drizzle that lasted about an hour with intermitting short flare up during the rest of the day.

Following is a list of the performers in the order they appeared: 

  • Tim Robb – bought his CD and it was really bad
  • Northern River – a local band – good music but really bad lead singer. 
  • Sean Tracey – from Juneau and played harmonica – bought his CD – pretty good
  • Matt Johnson and the Last Frontiersmen – local band – really good music but bad lead singer.
  • Steve Brown and the Bailers – good band from Fairbanks – bought their CD – good
  • Salty Gravy – not sure where they were from but they were good 

Then the performers started over again.  I did not get a picture of the Salty Gravy band because the sun light shinning through the yellow cover turned everything into a bright yellow smug. 

There was a group of 34 Bentley auto owners from England touring Canada and Alaska.  Several of them stopped in at the campground in route to Fairbanks.   

The proceeds from some of the sales was going to Eagle.  Beer was $4.00 a glass with $2.00 being donated.  A portion of the gate and food was being donated.  There was a silent auction and I purchased a tag off of a jeep that was crushed by the ice – cost $60.00.  The jeep is the crushed vehicle next to the picture of the bus I took.

Two of the famous Chicken Stock chicken dancers.

The world famous “Chicken Dancers” came out at midnight.  It is a very fast music beat and the words are repeated over and over – “I don’t want to be a chicken, I don’t want to be a duck. so shake your butt”.  Then everyone acts like drunken fools, which quite a few were by this time. 

It never got dark while we were in Chicken.  You could set outside and read 24/7 all the time we were here.  Drove pickup 368.2 miles .  

06-14-2009     Sun     Day 61      Trip Meter:   82.9

Weather:  Overcast in the morning.  Light rain during first 50 miles of the drive today.  Sun came out in the early afternoon.  In the low 70’s.  Heard there was hail in Chicken about 12:30 PM and they stopped traffic until it was over. 

Fueled Coach:   At Tesoro in Tok, AK.  $3.649.  Got a free wash. 

Driving Directions:   Took AK 5 south, aka “Taylor Highway” to AK 2.  Took AK 2 west to Tok.  At Tok took AK 1 south 1.7 miles to the campground.  AK 5 was in poor to fair condition all the way.  AK 2 from the jct to Tok was in good condition with a portion of it being resurfaced so flagmen were out. 

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 10:25 AM. 

As noted on our trip to Tok on the 11th, no pictures on this road.  The only scenery is burned trees on both sides of the road.

  • Campsite:   Sourdough Campground, Tok, AK - overnight - site F-10 - gravel pad – long pull thru - 30 amp, water, picnic table, WiFi (FREE-available at the office only) - Good Sam Park - Cost $29.20 per night - Saved $3.40 for GS and additional $3.40 for mentioning the web site ad - Rating 5/4 - Got setup at 1:40 PM.  The sites were located in a heavily wooded area with tall trees separating each site.  We had trouble getting the coach situated in our site to get all slides out because of the trees.  

We went to dinner at the campground café.  We had reindeer chili served in a sourdough bowl.  After dinner there was a pancake toss.  Get to toss 2 pancakes and if you get one in the bucket you get a free breakfast.  I got one in on my first toss.  Drove pickup 18.1 miles.

06-15-2009     Mon     Day 62      Trip Meter:   188.4     

Weather:  Sunny this morning but went to overcast in early afternoon.  Light rain off and on during the afternoon and evening.  High today was 70.

Driving Directions:   Got back on AK 1 south, aka “Tok Cutoff”.  At the jct of AK 4, aka “Richardson Highway”, took it south.  AK 1 and AK 4 are the same road.  Was only on AK 4 for 14 miles then turned west on AK 1, aka “Glen Highway” towards Anchorage.

AK 1 the “Tok Cutoff” is 108 miles of poor to good road with the majority of it being less than fair condition.  At least 30 miles of it was wavy and could only drive it in a motorhome at 30 to 35 mph.  The rest of it was very spotty with short sections of poor to good road.  The 14 miles of AK 4 was good and could travel it 55 mph in the motorhome.  The Glen Highway was in fair to good condition to MP 137.6.

Days Activities:   Went to breakfast – all you could eat pancakes, reindeer sausage, link sausage, biscuits & gravy, fruit, orange juice, and coffee.  Cost $12.00 for Sue and I got mine free.  Departed campground at 9:55 AM.  

At MP 56.5 on the Tok Cutoff we stopped at an overlook and we took pictures of Cobb Lakes.  Three lakes make up Cobb Lakes.

At MP 1 on the Tok Cutoff we stopped at an overlook and got pictures of our first look at the braided rivers – the Copper River.

  • Campsite:   Little Nelchina State Recreational Site, MP 137.6 on Glen Highway - overnight – NO site xx - asphalt pad - back-in – NO services.  FREE parking.  Got setup at 3:55 PM.   

Campground is on the Little Nelchina River.  The site is very unlevel but we had enough blocks to level it.  The river water is very muddy and very swift. 

I took pictures of the Little Nelchina River . 

06-16-2009     Tue     Day 63      Trip Meter:   97.4   

Weather:  Overcast in the morning with spots of sunlight in the afternoon.  High today in the high 60’s. 

Driving Directions:   Continued west on AK 1.  

At MP 97 to MP 93 is a construction area.  Has been under construction for several years and probably will not be completed until 2010.  They are blasting away rock and widening the road for about 2 miles.  

The section of road from MP 137.6 (where we stayed the night) to Palmer has been in fair to good condition with the exception of a few short bad spots. 

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 10:35 AM.  

Stopped at MP 123.5 and we took pictures of Gun Sight Mountain. 
Stopped at MP 115.5 and we took pictures of the scenery.  Beautiful spot.
Stopped at MP 103 and we took pictures of the Matanuska Glacier.

Our campsite at Little Nelchina State Recreational Site, MP 137.6 on Glen Highway

From MP 115 to MP 105 is probably the most spectacular scenery we have ever seen in all of our travels.  The mountains, snow, trees, rivers, and winding road has to be seen to really be appreciated.   

At MP 97 we had to wait about 40 minutes for road construction.  There were flagmen and a pilot car in use.  When we arrived we were second in line so the other traffic had just gone through a few minutes ahead of us.  The actual construction area was only 1 mile but there was 4 miles between flagmen.  They set off a blast while we were there so we had to wait for them to clear the rock off the road.  When we finally got through there were 55 vehicles in line waiting their turn. 

*** Update 9/1 – The construction was completed when we went back through.   

We met at least 25 of the 34 Bentley’s from England that are touring Canada and Alaska.

  • Campsite:   The Homestead RV Park, Palmer, AK - 2 nights - site 41 - gravel pad - pull thru - 30 amp, water, picnic table, WiFi (Cost $2.00 per day) - Passport America Park - Cost $15.50 per night - Saved $31.00 - Rating 4/4 - Got setup at 3:35 PM.



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