Lonnie and Sue - Traveling North America

2009 Alaska 3 - Talkeetna, Anchorage, Willow, Hatcher Pass Road, and Healy

 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 .
Healy - (Denali NP)

 Travel Log - July 6 to July 25, 2009        [Tab 2009 Alaska 3]

07-06-2009     Mon     Day 83      Trip Meter:   241.7 

Weather:  Sunny all day in the low 80’s. 

Fueled Coach:   At Carrs in Anchorage, AK.  $3.269. 

Fueled Pickup:   At Holidays in Wasilla, AK.   

Driving Directions:   Took AK 9 north.  It merged into AK 1 north and continued on it.  At jct of AK 3, aka “Parks Hwy” (north of Anchorage) took it north.  At MP 98.7 took the Talkeetna Spur Road to the campground. 

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 9 AM.   

  • Campsite:   Talkeetna Camper Park, Talkeetna, AK - 6 nights - site 27 - gravel pad - pull thru - 50 amp, water, WiFi (FREE) - Commercial Campground - no discounts - Cost $34.00 per night - Rating 4/3 - Got setup at 3:55. 

Additional info:   This campground would be very pretty is the sites were not packed in so tight.  There is 50 amp service here but I had to connect the transformer because of low voltage so we are on 30 amp.  The only thing that keeps this from being a really good park is the train station that is about 200 fee behind it and the 10 or so trains that go by daily. 

We will have to move to site #5 Friday morning.

Our campsite at Talkeetna Camper Park, Talkeetna, AK

07-07-2009     Tue     Day 84      

Weather:  Sunny all day with a high of 88.

Days Activities:   Called Fox Run Campground in Palmer and made reservation for 4 days starting Aug 28th. 

Received a call from the UPS Store in Anchorage - our mail is in. 

Went to Mahay’s Riverboat Services and booked a river tour for tomorrow.  Is a 3.5 hour tour and departs at 3:15 PM.  Have a coupon – cost is $110.00. 

We spent 15 minutes and drove all around Talkeetna. 

07-08-2009     Wed     Day 85      

Weather:   Sunny all day in the low 80’s. 

Days Activities:   We took the boat ride.  The dock is on the Talkeetna River less than a half mile from the junction of the Talkeetna, Susitna, and Chulitna Rivers.  The ride was 50 miles and was primarily on the Susitna and Chulitna Rivers.  There are 44 passengers. 

About 5 minutes after departure the captain pointed out where McKinley is located but we couldn’t see it for the smoke.  There is a forest fire close by.  The mountain was 80 miles from us.  

Stopped at a bald eagle nest and there was one eagle in it but was too far away for a picture.  Did pass by one eagle on a dead tree out in the water but didn’t stop.  Saw a second one a few minutes later and the captain stopped the boat.  We took a lot of pictures but not sure if they will come out because of the distance and haze.

The boat stopped for a ¼ mile nature walk.  The guide talked about local plants, discussed a replica of a native lean-to, discussed a replica of a trapper’s cabin, and showed us some furs.  The trapper’s cabin is a replica, just a little smaller than the original, of the cabin her boss lived in for 5 years with his wife.  They homesteaded in the early 70’s and he trapped for a living.  The walk and talks took about 40 minutes. 

Then we went up another river for 25 minutes.  The tour guide served bottled water and a chocolate chip cookie.  Dropped 33 of the passengers at the Princess Lodge and then had a 30 minute ride back to the dock.  The trip was 3½ hours and was very pleasant.  We had a coupon so cost $110.00 today. 

07-09-2009     Thur     Day 86      

Weather:  Sunny all day in the mid 80’s.   

Days Activities:   We took a ride out to Hatcher Pass.  We decided to do it out of here instead of out of Palmer later.   

North Country RV Park is located about a ½ mile off the Parks Hwy on the Hatcher Pass Road.  It was empty when we drove through it.  There are 48 long sites, with trees, and with 50 amp service.  Water and dump station is across the road.  While we were there a young girl, teenager, came out and talked to us.  She lives across the street from the campground and her parents bought the campground 2 weeks ago.  She said there were 6 units there during the 4th of July.  She also said that the campground had never been advertised. 

We were on a jet boat tour of the Susitna and Chulitna Rivers.  It stopped here and we got off for a nature walk and a tour of some reconstructed early settlers structures.

Cost is $15.00 per night.  Water fill is $3.00 and dump is $10.00 but are included with site cost. 

Note - When we returned Talkeetna Camper Park, where we are currently staying, I talked to the owner and he said the North Country RV Park was built about 5 years ago and had never been very active.   

We will stop there when we leave Anchorage and work on the bedroom slide. 

Stopped at a turnout on Willow Creek and we took pictures.  In about a half mile stopped at the Willow Creek Bridge and took more pictures.   

Willow Creek starts at Lake Summit and has really clear water.  We followed the creek for about 20 miles of the 31 mile drive. 

We drove up a really rough 4-wheel drive road.  It was 1.3 miles long.  I did the first mile in 12 minutes and the last 3/10th in one minute.  I took a picture of the road.  We had driven it in 2005 and I had stopped about halfway through and panned for gold – but alas I had left my gold pan in the motorhome today. 

We stopped at the Lake Summit State Recreation Site and took pictures of Lake Summit and the valley. 

We had lunch at the Hatcher Pass Lodge before returning the way we had just come.  Paid $12.50 each for 2 hamburgers that were cooked so long they were dusty dry and completely tasteless.  The drive today was 174 miles. 

07-10-2009     Fri     Day 87      

Weather:  Sunny today with high of 79. 

Days Activities:   We had to move to another site this morning – site #5 with sewer.  Sewer sites are higher but no additional charge because we had to move.  The 50 amp also works at this site.  There are only 5 sites in this campground with sewer. 

07-11-2009     Sat     Day 88      

Weather:  Sunny today with high of 80. 

Days Activities:   We went to the VFW for breakfast but it had been cancelled because of a problem with the kitchen.  So we walked over to the craft booths and looked at all the goodies.  Then we went to the Twisted Creek for breakfast.  After breakfast we found a spot on Main Street and set our chairs up for the parade – read for 30 minutes until the parade started.

The parade made a trip down Main then turned around and came back.  It took 45 minutes and was a good parade.  We took lots of pictures.

After the parade we listened to music in the park and read until time for the 2 PM showing of the life of Don Sheldon, the bush pilot that founded Talkeetna Air Service.  He pioneered the glacier landings for the McKinley climbers.  The movie was shown in his old plane hanger and cost $6.00 each senior rate..

A view of the valley from the Lake Summit State Recreation Site on Hatcher Pass Road,

After the movie we went to the ball field and watched the one-pitch softball tournament.  We watched 4 ball games in 2 ½ hours.  The rules are – 1 pitch only to the batter.  A foul ball is an out.  There are 4 outfielders and the ball is pitched the same as slow patch.  A couple of the teams had women on them.  The women were pitched a smaller ball than the men.  It was very fast and interesting.  This is an annual event. 

At 5:45 PM we walked over to the VFW for the moose droppings.  We had purchased 4 turds.  There were a total of 3,000 turds sold for $5.00 each.  At the drop site there was an outline of a moose drawn on the ground with a large X drawn under it and a small circle (bull’s-eye) drawn in the center of the X.  At 6 PM the bag of 3,000 turds were drawn up into the air on a pulley that was suspended on a cable.  The bag was opened and the turds fell to the ground.  The closest one to the “bull’s-eye” won $1,500.00 – second place won $600.00 – 3rd thru 11th won $150.00 each, and the furtherest away won $300.00.  We didn’t win anything but had a really fun, interesting, and different day than usual.  Drove pickup 192.9 miles . 

07-12-2009     Sun     Day 89      Trip Meter:   114.6

Weather:  Sunny today with a high of 73. 

Driving Directions:   Back the way we came. 

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 11:10 AM.   

  • Campsite:   Golden Nugget Camper Park, Anchorage, AK - 3 nights - site 197 - gravel pad – back in - 30 amp, water, sewer, picnic table, WiFi (FREE-but very weak) - Good Sam Park - Cost $40.50 per night - Saved $13.50 - Rating 3/2 - Got setup at 2:45 PM.

07-13-2009     Mon     Day 90

Weather:  Sunny in the high 60’s.

Days Activities:   Took the motorhome to Karen’s RV at 7:20 AM.  They had received the part but had misplaced it.  They located it just before lunch and had it installed and we were out of there at 2 PM.  Cost $100.00 for our deductible.

We went to the UPS Store and got our mail – cost $10.00 for storage.

We stopped at Wingfoot, a Goodyear dealer, and ordered 6 new tires for the motorhome.  Goodyear currently has an $80.00 per tire rebate and there is no sales tax here.  Total cost for the 6 tires is $3,147.08 and that includes mounting, balancing all 6, and disposing of 5 tires.  We will pay for the tires tomorrow in order to have a paid receipt before the rebate ends on July 31. 

I called the RV Park in Palmer and changed our reservation from 4 days arriving on 8/28 to 6 days arriving on 8/26.  We will return to Anchorage one day from Palmer to have the tires mounted.

07-14-2009     Tue     Day 91     

Weather:  Cloudy with high of 65.

Days Activities:   Went to Wingfoot and paid for the tires - $3,147.08.  Will submit a rebate form for $75.00 per tire.

Went to a sheet metal shop and bought 2 pieces of aluminum (6” x 31½”) for total cost of $42.68.  Went to a warehouse and purchased 2 tubes of caulking adhesive for $16.00 each.  Went to Home Depot and purchased some pop rivets, self tapping screws, drill bits, and three 2x4’s to secure the aluminum - $39.00.  Went to a parts store and purchased some lock tight for the screws - $6.00.   

The campground furnished a really good chili for dinner tonight.  Drove the pickup 76.0 miles .

07-15-2009     Wed     Day 92      Trip Meter:   74.3

Weather:  Partially sunny with high of 78.

Fueled Coach:   At Tesoro in Anchorage, AK.  $3.289.

Fueled Pickup:   At Tesoro in Anchorage, AK.  $2.899.

Driving Directions:   Took AK 1 north to the “Y” then AK 3 north.  Got off at the Hatcher Pass Road and drove ½ mile to the campground.

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 11:30 AM. 

  • Campsite:   Hatcher Pass RV, Willow, AK - 3 nights - site 17 - gravel pad – a back-in but I pulled thru because we are the only ones in the campground - 50 amp, picnic table - Commercial Campground - no discounts - Cost $15 per night - Rating 5/3 - Got setup at 2:00 PM.  Note – no bath facilities in the campground. 

Additional info:  The sites are backed up to each other with a combined length of about 100 feet.  There are 48 sites in the campground.  Current owners bought the campground 3 weeks ago – prior name North Country RV Park. 

07-16-2009     Thur     Day 93      

Weather:  Mostly cloudy with a peeking of sunshine with a high of 76.  It started raining at 11 PM and continued for 4 hours.    

Days Activities:   I had to drive back to Wasilla to get some 1’ self tapping screws.  I was afraid the 3/4“ one I had purchased in Anchorage were not long enough.  Then I installed the aluminum plates on the bottom of the curbside bedroom slide.  Also put pop rivets in the bottoms of 2 other slides. 

The entire job, including the 2 hour round trip to Wasilla, was about 3 hours.  The RV place wanted to charge me for 6 hours labor @ $125.00 per hour, plus parts.  I had a total of $119.68 in parts plus gas for a 50 mile round trip to Wasilla in the repair, and I know it was done right.

07-17-2009     Fri     Day 94      

Weather:  Cloudy with a high of 71.

Our campsite at Hatcher Pass RV, Willow, AK

Fueled Pickup:   At Tesoro in Wasilla, AK.  $2.949. 

Days Activities:   I called and made reservations at Denali RV Park & Motel in Healy for 4 nights starting 7/18 – water and electric site for $30.00 per night.

Called Denali Park Resorts and made a reservation for “Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre” for 7/18 @ 8:30 PM – have a coupon so cost is $62.00.

Called Nenana Raft Adventures and made a reservation for a rafting trip on 7/20 @ 11:45 AM - have a coupon so cost is $120.00.  Located a ¼ mile north of the park entrance.

We drove into Wasilla and went to Wal-Mart and bought ink cartridges for the printer.  Mailed off a payment to Coast to Coast for a 3 year renewal until 10/30/2012 for $179.00.

A note about the Burger Bus in Willow.  It is an old school bus that has been painted blue.  We ate there twice and had soft serve ice cream 3 times.  The hamburgers were great – made with ½ lb patties – cost $5.50 each.  Drove pickup 135.4 miles .

0 7-18-2009     Sat     Day 95      Trip Meter:   176.7

Weather:  Sunny with a high of 72.

Driving Directions:   Took AK 3 north to MP 245 and got off at the campground.

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 9:50 AM.  Both sides of the highway all the way from the Talkeetna junction to the Denali National Park was lined with vast blankets of Fire Weed – it was beautiful.

Never saw an animal during the entire ride today and that includes no birds either.

  • Campsite:   Denali RV Park & Motel, Mile 245.1 Parks Hwy, Healy, AK - 7 nights - site G6 - gravel pad - back-in - 30 amp, water, sewer, picnic table, WiFi (FREE), cable (FREE – 12 channels) - Commercial Campground - no discounts - Cost $30.22 per night - Rating 4/3 - Got setup at 2:50 PM. 

Additional info:  I said no discounts but we did get 1 night free for staying 7 nights so only paid for 6 nights.  Saved $35.31.  

We got parked about 30 minutes before I completed setup because I helped a man jump off his car.  He had flagged me down as I was parking.  It was a Polish couple that was staying in one of the cabins.   

At 8 PM we went to the McKinley Chateau and took a bus to the dinner theatre.  The dinner of ribs, salmon, beans, corn on the cob, and salad was really good and included some great biscuits with blueberry cobbler for dessert.  The show was entertaining and we recommend this attraction.   

07-19-2009     Sun     Day 96   

Weather:  Real windy all morning, mostly cloudy all day with high of 67.

Days Activities:   We drove out to Black Diamond Resort and purchased tickets to the Covered Wagon Dinner for $79.00, with coupon, for 5:30 PM on 7/21.  Then we took some side roads and found a way to get to the Nenana River.

07-20-2009     Mon     Day 97         

Weather:  Mist to light sprinkle from 11 AM to 2 PM, cloudy with high of 65.

Our campsite at Denali RV Park & Motel, Mile 245.1 Parks Hwy, AK

Days Activities:   We went on a rafting trip today.  Checked in at 11:45 AM and got back to the car at 5:50 PM.  No pictures of the trip because of water. 

We got suited out in a dry suit then took a bus ride 7 miles to the jumping off spot.  The first past of the trip was all in a mist and light sprinkle and lasted about 2 hours.  The river portion was about 12 miles because of a lot of twisting of the river.  It was fairly smooth with class 1 and 2 rapids.  Guides did all of the rowing.  There were 32 passengers in 4 rafts. 

Then the rafts beached just below the company office where we parked the car and we had a real steep walk up to a bus that took us about a quarter mile back to the office for a bathroom break.  Also for some of the passengers to pick up oars to row the second part of the trip.   

This is actually a 2 part trip that can be booked for the first leg, second leg, or both legs.  All 32 passengers that left on the first leg were booked for the entire trip.  At the stop over we picked up another 11 passengers for the second leg.  When we jumped off for the second part we had 6 rafts – 3 with guides rowing and 3 with passengers rowing.  This section had 5 class 3 rapids and over two-thirds of the trip was rough water.  This portion of the trip was about 12 miles long.  It was a great ride. 

07-21-2009     Tue     Day 98      

Weather:  Partly cloudy.  Wind started blowing about 11 PM last night and blew all day.  A lot of rocking of the motorhome.  Still blowing at midnight.  High in the mid 60’s. 

Days Activities:   We went to the Covered Wagon Dinner at 5:30 PM.  It was late getting started because a train was late coming in with a tour group.  We were furnish with free beer while we waited and got on the wagon about 7 PM.  It was a 30 minute ride to the cookhouse.  The dinner started with cold slaw and pasta salads.  Then beans and corn on the cob was served and the meat followed as it was cooked.  First up was a sausage link, then barbeque chicken chunks, steak strips, and finally salmon.  For bread we had cornbread muffins and for dessert a cranberry and apple cobbler with whipped cream.  For drinks there was an assortment of juices, coffee, tea (hot and cold), hot chocolate and wine.  Sue and I had the wine.  It was a good meal and there was a lady singer while we ate.  We took pictures.  Got back home at 9:10 PM.  

07-22-2009     Wed     Day 99      

Weather:  Wind never slowed down.  The motorhome rocked all morning and all during the day.  High of 61. 

Days Activities:   Sat in all day. 

07-23-2009     Thur     Day 100      

Weather:  Cloudy and still windy for 24 hours.  High was 64.

Days Activities:   We are going to drive the Stampede Trail today.  It is a 50 mile very rough road that was built in the early 1960’s out to the Stampede Mine.  It crosses several rivers but no bridges were ever built.  

The road is paved for the first 4 miles then turns into a rough gravel road – my best speed on the next 6.9 miles was 10 mpg.  The following mileage is for the gravel portion of the road:

  • At 1 mile there were tent campers.
  • At 1.8 miles there were 2 cars parked.  There was a lady by the cars and we could see several people out in the field gathering something with another standing guard with a rifle.  We stopped and asked the lady what they were gathering.  She said 2 types of berries and then showed us the bucket of berries she had collected.  They were Blue Berries and Salmon Berries.  The Salmons Berries are the same as Bake Apple Berries in Newfoundland.  The guard was watching for black bears.
  • At 2 miles we saw a 5th wheel parked.  This is sure not a road I would want to drive with a RV.
  • At 3 miles there is a cabin next to the road.
  • At 3.2 miles we met a hiker with a backpack on and carrying a battery power drill in his hand.
  • At 3.6 miles there was a Coors beer can in the middle of the road.
  • At 3.9 miles there is a turnaround next to a pretty little lake with a cabin.  At this point the road gets really narrow and rough.  To this point we have seen 3 cars on the road and 5 hikers in the field – not counting the people at the berry patch. 
  • At 4 miles we had our first water hazard.
  • The road from this point to where we turned around was extremely rough and at times it narrowed to the point where the bushes rubbed both sides of the pickup.  We met 2 groups of 4-wheel adventurers coming out as we were going in – one group of 3 and the other as group of 4. 
  • Crossed 2 more water hazards – one with water up to the running boards.
  • At 6.8 miles there is a camp with 3 tents, 8 chairs, and a porta-poddy.  The tents look like they have been there for a long time.  Found out later it called the Jeep Camp.  Speculate it is used as a rest stop by the tour groups that travel the road.
  • At 6.9 miles we came to a hole I did not want to try crossing.  I slowly creped into it but started dragging high center so backed out and turned around.
  • It took 40 minutes to drive back to the 3.9 mile point.  That was 40 minutes to drive 3 miles.
  • I took some pictures of the road.
  • Before we got back to the pavement we saw a moose with 2 calves.  We took pictures.
  • On the paved portion we saw a moose on the side of the road.  We took pictures.
The wagon we road in to get to the cook house for dinner.

The beginning of the Stampede Trail.  This is a representation of the last 3 miles of the road we were able to travel.  This is actually one of the better sections.  It took 40 minutes, each way, to travel the 3 miles and I was driving as fast as the road would allow. 
After our trip we drove down to the Nenana River to read and or nap but it was too windy and cold to sit outside so we didn’t stay long.  Returned home to read and nap in comfort. 

07-24-2009     Fri     Day 101      

Weather:  Sunny in the morning and still windy.  Partly cloudy in the afternoon with a high of 62. 

Days Activities:   We took a ride out to Denali National Park in the afternoon.  Stopped at the visitor’s center and saw a film about the park, then drove out to Salvage River and back.   

Called and made reservations at the Riverview RV Park in North Pole.  Drove pickup 178.4 miles. 

07-25-2009     Sat     Day 102      Trip Meter:   124.0   

Weather:  Windy and cloudy in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon.  High in the low 70’s. 

Driving Directions:   Continued north on AK 3.  In Fairbanks at the jct of AK 2 took it south for a couple of miles then got off at Badger road to the campground.  

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 10:25 AM.  Wind was blowing as hard this morning as any day since we got here.  Lost the wind about 30 miles out of Denali. 

We stopped at the Teklanika Trading Co. & RV Park at MP 276 on the Nenana River and took some pictures. 

We stopped at a pull out at MP 318.5 for lunch and took pictures of the smoke from the first west of town of Nenana. 

Smoke got really bad about 35 miles south of Fairbanks but started clearing just before we got to town.  There was no smoke at the campground. 

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