Lonnie and Sue - Traveling North America

2013 Alaska 3 - Travels to Palmer, Denali National Park (Healy), and Fairbanks (North Pole)

 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 National Park)
North Pole (Fairbanks)

 Travel Log - July 2 to July 11, 2013         [Tab 2013 Alaska 3]

07-02-2013      Tue     Trip Meter:   141.4   

Driving Directions:   Took the Seward Hwy back into Anchorage.  Then took the Glenn Hwy to the jct of the Parks Hwy.  At Parks Hwy took it north.  At the Trunk Road exit, on the south side of Wasilla, got off for the campground.    

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 9:35 AM.  Stopped and toured the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  Had a TourSaver coupon so saved $9.00. 

We saw: 

  • Elk
  • Caribou
  • Grizzly bear
  • Moose
  • Wood bison
  • Musk oxen
  • Porcupine
  • Eagle
  • Owl
  • Lynx 
  • Campsite:   Big Bear Campground and RV Park, Palmer, AK - 2 nights - site 16 - gravel pad - pull thru - 50 amp, water, sewer, picnic table, fire ring, WiFi (provided by Tengo Internet so is expensive), Good Sam Park - Cost $27.00 per night - Saved $6.00 - Rating 4/3 - Got setup at 2:25 PM – Have 4G service. 

After we got setup we drove into Palmer for a late lunch at La Fiesta Restaurant.  Stopped at Bishops Attic and purchased 18 books – 17 of them were new hardback books by Zane Grey for $1.00 each.

Sue and Patrick at the entrance of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Then we drove the Old Glenn Hwy.  Found a spot at the Kink River that we may stay for a few days when we come back through here.  We are taking the book list and going back to Bishop Attic tomorrow because they had some really good books for $2.00 each.
Herd of Wood Bison at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Herd of Caribou at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

07-03-2013     Wed      

Days Activities:   We went to Palmer and stopped at Bishops Attic and purchased 6 more books. 

Then we went to the Musk Ox farm and took a tour.  Got the senior rate of $9.00 for Sue and I and $5.00 for Patrick.  There are 78 Musk Ox at the farm.  We all took pictures and I took some video. 

Then we drove out to the Independence Mine Historical State Park on Fishhook Road.  We took a tour there.  It took an hour and cost $6.00 each.  It was very interesting.  The site is open for self-guided touring but you can only go into the building on the guided tour. 

We wanted to drive the Hatcher Pass Road but it is still closed.  There were several washouts this year and they are still repairing them.  They are trying to get it open tomorrow.  Guess Patrick will miss it but Sue and I will drive it later this year. 

Drove pickup 126.7 miles.

Musk Ox at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, AK.
Some of the buildings at the Independence Mine Historical State Park.

07-04-2013     Thur      Trip Meter:   219.5         

Fueled Coach:   At a Tesoro in Wasilla, AK.  $4.199.  Note – I had wanted to fill at a Holiday just north of Wasilla but didn’t go far enough out of town before turning around and going back into Wasilla.  I didn’t think it was as far out of town as it actually was.  Just gave up too soon.  As a result drove an extra 12 miles I really didn’t need to drive. 

Driving Directions:   got back on AK 3, “Parks Hwy” and continued north.  Got off at the campground.

Days Activities:   Departed campground at 8:45 AM.

I scrapped the top of the motorhome on the canopy of the first station I pulled into in Wasilla for diesel.  I could tell it was low so I was going really slow.  It only scrapped for a couple of inches before I got stopped and backed out.  When I looked at the top, from the ground, discovered I had left the antenna up.  However, I believe the scrapping was the satellite dish, not the antenna.

Had planned on going to Talkeetna for their 4th of July activities but the forecast is for rain today and for the next 6 days.  It was raining as we departed camp.  Decided that if it is still raining when we get to the Talkeetna cutoff we will continue north.

Still raining when we got to the cutoff.  Will decide whether to stop at Denali or continue to Fairbanks when we get to Denali.

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

It stopped raining about 40 miles from Denali.  The weather report is for showers tomorrow with cloudy for Saturday.  Decided to stop in Denali for 3 nights. 

  • Campsite:   Denali RV Park & Motel, Mile 245.1 Parks Hwy, Healy, AK - 3 nights - site A9 - gravel pad - back-in - 30 amp, water, sewer, picnic table, WiFi (FREE), cable (FREE – 12 channels) - Good Sam Park - Cost $38.52 per night, Saved $12.84 - Rating 4/3 - Got setup at 1:55 pm.  Also have 4G service but will use the campground WiFi.  Note – Regular site price was $40.00, GS was $36.00 plus tax. 

We drove back into Denali Village to make reservations for a rafting trip.  Discovered the reservations have to be made by phone because the office is in Arizona.  Called Denali Parks Resort and reserved seating on the July 5th 1:30 PM departure for the “Canyon Run”.  Cost is $99.00 per person so with the TourSaver coupon cost $198.00.  Will gather at the McKinley Chalet for the bus at 1 pm. 

During the same call with Denali Park Resorts made reservations for the 7:30 pm “Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre”, also on July 5th.  Cost is $63.00 per person so with the TourSaver coupon cost $126.00.  Will gather at the McKinley Chalet for the bus at 7:15 pm. 

Then we went to the Denali National Park Visitor Center and purchased tickets for the bus ride out to Wonder Lake.  Departure is at 9:15 am on July 6th.  Cost was $46.00 per person.  Park entry fee is $10.00 per person but we saved that with the Golden Age Passport.  Need to board the bus at 9 am.

07-05-2013     Fri      

Days Activities:   I called Riverview RV Park in North Pole and made reservations for 5 nights starting July 7th. 

We departed for the rafting trip at 1:00 pm.  Boarded a bus at 1:30 pm at the McKinley Chalet and rode down a hill, about a tenth of a mile, to the rafting office on the Nenana River.  There are no pictures of the trip because a waterproof camera was required and we didn’t have one.    

At the rafting office we all got suited out in a dry suit for the trip.  After the safety lecture we walked down to the rafts and boarded.  There were 3 rafts for 22 people.  We had 7 in our raft.  We pushed off about 2:30 pm.  The trip was about 1½ hours long and was 11 miles.  We landed at Healy, boarded a bus, and returned to the rafting office.  After we got out of the dry suit we chose to walk up the hill to the Chalet instead of waiting for the bus to take us.  Got back to Chalet at 5:10 pm.  It was a great trip and we highly recommend it. 

We returned to camp and then at 6:45 pm returned to the McKinley Chalet for the “Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre”.  Boarded a bus for the ride down.  It is also down the hill from the Chalet, about a quarter of a mile.  We got to the theatre at 7:20 pm – the doors opened at 7:30.  It is reserved seating.   

They stated serving about 7:50 pm.  The meal was served family style.  There were 8 at our table.  The food was all in large metal pots and plates had to be passed, not the food.  The meal was salad, biscuits, barbeque pork ribs, baked salmon, potatoes, and corn.  For desert there was a blueberry and blackberry cobbler.  The wait staff was also the theatre performers.   

The performance was a musical presentation of life in Alaska in the early 1900’s.  It was the same presentation we saw in 2009.  The food was great but the performance was lacking.  Got back home at 10 pm.

07-06-2013     Sat     

Days Activities:   We left for Denali NP at 8:45 am.  Boarded the bus for Wonder Lake at 9:15 am.  The ride today is 184 miles roundtrip.  Got a lot of pictures but my camera ran out of batteries at about mile 50 and Sue failed to put my extra batteries in the backpack when she packed it.  We got back to the park office at 8 pm.  The trip today was 10 hrs 45 mins long. 

The mountain was reasonably clear and we got pictures.  They were doing quite a bit of work on the road because of numerous washouts this year.  We saw a motor grader with a roller attached to the rear of it.  Have never seen this configuration before.    

We saw a lot of wildlife.  One grizzly bear [a long way off], numerous caribou [some close, some at a distance], 6 moose [some close, some at a distance], one dall sheep [about 400 yards out], and several ptarmigans [a hen with 2 chicks and then a hen and rooster].  

Drove pickup 117.4 miles.

A view of Mt. McKinley from inside Denali National Park.  It was a great day for viewing the mountain.
A curve on the road in the park. 

07-07-2013      Sun      Trip Meter:   121.2      

Driving Directions:   Continued north on AK 3 “Parks Hwy”.  In Fairbanks AK 3 ended and merged with AK 2 “Richardson Hwy”.   We continued on AK 2 south.  Got off at Badger Road and took it 3 miles to the campground. 

Days Activities:   When we got ready to leave this morning Sue discovered her camera was missing.  Must have been left on the bus.  I went back out to the park and checked with Lost and Found but it had not been turned in.  Will stop again when we return to Anchorage is about a week. 

Departed campground at 11:15 AM.  It was rainy and overcast the entire drive today. 

  • Campsite:   Riverview RV Park, North Pole, AK -  5 nights - site 101 - gravel pad - pull thru - 30 amp, water, sewer, picnic table, fire ring, WiFi (FREE), cable (FREE) - Good Sam Park - Cost $36.85 per night - Saved $20.84 - Rating 4/4 - Got setup at 2:45 PM.  Have 4G service. 

I made reservations for the Riverboat Discovery for 2 pm tomorrow.  Cost $119.90 for 3 with the TourSaver coupon. 

I made reservations for Gold Dredge #8 for Tuesday at 10:30 amCost $75.90 for 3 with the TourSaver coupon.

07-08-2013     Mon               

Days Activities:   It was a bit overcast but a nice day.  We went to the Georgeson Botanical Gardens out by the University.  Sue and Patrick toured the garden but I stayed in the car.  Cost was $5.00 each.  

Then we went on the Riverboat Discovery.  When it stopped at the Chena Village Patrick got off and took the tour.  Sue and I sat outside in the village but did not tour.  It started a light sprinkle while the group was touring but nothing to be concerned about.  I did not take many pictures because this is our 3rd time on the boat.

One of the many beautiful flowers in Georgeson Botanical Gardens in Fairbanks.
Boarding the Riverboat Discovery.

07-09-2013     Tue    

Days Activities:   Sunny today.  We took the Gold Dredge #8 tour.  Did not think it was nearly as good as the El Dorado Gold Mine tour that have closed down but did find some gold when panning, as expected.  Only took a couple of pictures and one video.

I called the Golden Nugget RV Park in Anchorage and made reservations for 3 nights starting the 13th.   

We went to the Alaska Salmon Bake in Pioneer Park.  Cost was $32.95 each.  It was all you could east salmon, prime rib, grilled Alaskan cod, salad, drinks, and desert.  We recommend the experience for at least one try but not a second.

Then we visited the Alaskaland Pioneer Air Museum.  Cost was $3.00 each or $7.00 for a family of 4.  I took a lot of pictures.

Went to the Palace Theatre, in Pioneer Park, and saw a performance depicting the establishment of Fairbanks presented in skits and song.  It was very good.  Cost was $20.00 each.

At the gold panning shed at Gold Dredge #8.  That is Sue and Patrick on the right looking for their pot of gold.  Sorry, but on millionaires today.
Great airpower museum but very small.  Lots of items packed in a small space.

07-10-2013     Wed    

Fueled Pickup:   At Safeway in Fairbanks, AK.  $3.919

Days Activities:   Overcast but a nice day.  We went to the UA Museum of the North.  We spent 6 hours there, saw three 30 minute films, and toured the exhibits.  Entrance fee was $12.00 each, the movies was $5.00 for all three, and rental on the audio equipment was $4.00 each, for a total cost of $63.00.  It was well worth the time and cost.  Parking was 50 cents per hour for a cost of $3.00.  Did not take any pictures in the museum.

Then we drove out to the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge but there were very few birds out so we didn’t get out. 

Then we went downtown to the Ice Museum.  Saw a movie about ice sculpturing, toured the ice scriptures, and then watched an ice sculpturing demonstration.  The ice sculptures are in 3 freezers that are at 20 degrees.  We were allowed to walk into one of the freezers to get up close and personal with the sculptures.  Cost was $11.00 each for Sue and I and $12.00 for Patrick.

Ice house in the Ice Museum in Fairbanks.
Sue in the ice house.

07-11-2013     Thur    

Fueled Pickup:   At Hilltop Truckstop on Elliot Hwy, Fairbanks, AK.  $3.989.

Days Activities:   We drove out to the visitors center north of Fairbanks where there is a pullout for an up close viewing of the pipeline but the visitor center building has been moved.  Now it is just a pullout for viewing the pipeline.  We continued on to the Dalton Hwy.  We are taking Patrick up to the Yukon River. 

Went to MP 60 to have lunch at the Hot Spot Café but the cook had been taken to the hospital with an abscessed tooth.  So we returned to MP 56 and had lunch at the Yukon River Camp Restaurant.  Returned to camp.  The drive today was 317 miles. 

I called and made reservations for a river float trip at Willow with Susitna Valley River Guides for 9 am on Saturday.  Cost will be $200.00 with the TourSaver.

Drove pickup 505.0 miles.

Visitors area northwest of Fairbanks where you can walk around the pipeline.
Start of the Dalton Highway, aka Haul Road.


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