Alaska in July, first time RV

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Thinking of flying to Anchorage, getting an RV and going around part of Alaska in July this summer for 2+ weeks. Two adults, one 7 year old.

Just got two books, but still looking for advice.

Thinking an RV under 30 feet, either 27 or perhaps 22 or 24 might be manageable for new folks.
1) What do I look for in length of running without hookups are to ask the rental company/schedule my itinerary to include places with hookups?

2) How often would I likely need to dump the RV - once a week, every third day?

DH is mechanically inclined, but still we'll be first timers.

3) Any comments on sizing for newbies?

We like to camp, but were thinking an RV this time because of the mosquitos, comfort and convenience of moving around.

3) Any advice?

Thinking 3 nights in Denali, so we'd get 2 full days with two bus rides and some day hiking.

4) Too much? Too little?

We don't fish, but we love to hike. Kid is too young to do glacier hiking from our current research but we can hike up to at least one glacier. Perhaps 2-3 day trips on boats for wildlife viewing (Valdez, Whitter?, Seward).

Haven't decided on white water rafting, though the kid seems old enough for II-III rapids (he can swim fine in calm, but rapids might be beyond his current abilities).
5) Any recommendations on white water rafting?

6) Any activities we've not yet listed?

Currently not planning a cruise, we figure we'll be able to do that when we're older so no hurry to do it now. We may be less able to hike when we're older though...

7) What were your favorite things in Alaska (in summer) to do or visit?
littlebird
Posts: 1681
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:05 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by littlebird »

Was one of the books "Milepost"? If, not, it's a must: http://www.amazon.com/Milepost-2015-Kri ... 189215434X

Because of thawing ground (otherwise known as "mud"), summer is not the ideal time to RV Alaska, especially for a newbie.
More research needed.
User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 377
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:02 am
Location: Alaska

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Bruce »

Check out the trip planning info at http://www.greatalaskanholidays.com

They are a quality company to consider renting from as well, and can answer all of the questions you ask even if you don't.

If you rent, get the extra damage insurance they offer, a cracked windshield from loose gravel is a common road hazard here.

Smaller size RV is just fine for three people.

Not to early to reserve campgrounds, but consider state parks as well as the national park.

Don't make your vacation too much driving.

Enjoy your adventure,

regards
Bruce
Bruce | | Winner of the 2017 Bogleheads Contest | | "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
AKdream
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:08 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by AKdream »

dolphintraveler wrote:Thinking of flying to Anchorage, getting an RV and going around part of Alaska in July this summer for 2+ weeks. Two adults, one 7 year old.

Just got two books, but still looking for advice.

Thinking an RV under 30 feet, either 27 or perhaps 22 or 24 might be manageable for new folks.
1) What do I look for in length of running without hookups are to ask the rental company/schedule my itinerary to include places with hookups?

2) How often would I likely need to dump the RV - once a week, every third day?

DH is mechanically inclined, but still we'll be first timers.

3) Any comments on sizing for newbies?

We like to camp, but were thinking an RV this time because of the mosquitos, comfort and convenience of moving around.

3) Any advice?

Thinking 3 nights in Denali, so we'd get 2 full days with two bus rides and some day hiking.

4) Too much? Too little?

We don't fish, but we love to hike. Kid is too young to do glacier hiking from our current research but we can hike up to at least one glacier. Perhaps 2-3 day trips on boats for wildlife viewing (Valdez, Whitter?, Seward).

Haven't decided on white water rafting, though the kid seems old enough for II-III rapids (he can swim fine in calm, but rapids might be beyond his current abilities).
5) Any recommendations on white water rafting?

6) Any activities we've not yet listed?

Currently not planning a cruise, we figure we'll be able to do that when we're older so no hurry to do it now. We may be less able to hike when we're older though...

7) What were your favorite things in Alaska (in summer) to do or visit?
Hi!
The RV with the 7 YO will probably be a plus rather than camping. If you are trying to reduce your dumping, you can work around the RV tanks for a lot of certain tasks - which for 3 people you could go anywhere from 3-7 days between dumps. As for size, you will probably be fine with as small as you want to go and give you a little more flexibility on mobility.

Things to do?

Yes, go to Denali and plan for a couple of days to get into the park. If you bring a tent, take the bus out to Wonder Lake and camp over night OR rent a couple nights in a cabin Kantishna (not cheap, but super unique lodging in the middle of the park.) While up there, check out 49th State Brewery in Healy.

The road to Valdez is gorgeous, but I think you will be happier doing boat wildlife viewing out of Seward and I would probably not take the time to drive the Glenn out East on limited time while still wanting to check out Denali and the Kenai.

Seward is great, and I HIGHLY recommend taking a guided kayak trip out into Resurrection Bay (Caine's Head or Humpy Cove) would be fine with your child. If you have the time, roll around the Kenai to Homer as well - a cool town as well and you can park the RV out on the spit.

There are hikes and places to camp all over. These are just my initial thoughts off the top of my head and I'd be happy to answer any questions or give more advice.
User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 377
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:02 am
Location: Alaska

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Bruce »

http://www.toursaver.com/ is another great resource for activities to think about.

Summer is the best time for RV camping and all of the other activities that cater to the summer tour season.


Enjoy,
Bruce
Bruce | | Winner of the 2017 Bogleheads Contest | | "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
User avatar
Toons
Posts: 13933
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Toons »

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
tibbitts
Posts: 12829
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by tibbitts »

Just my opinion, and I'm light on the RV Alaska experience, but I'd take the cruise first. Not that RVing wouldn't be enjoyable, but I think in a few years your child would get more out of that experience. And if you haven't done RVing I'd get a less intensive taste of it nearer to home first. You might want to schedule your cruise or cruise/tour during the school year (spring particularly), but I assume 7-year-olds can still skip school like I did at that age for vacations. Back then of course we weren't learning much beyond maybe a couple of letters in the alphabet or how to count past nine. Now the kid might miss the entire nuclear physics curriculum.
User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 377
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:02 am
Location: Alaska

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Bruce »

http://www.nps.gov/dena/learn/kidsyouth ... vity-2.pdf

Your seven year old will love the sled dog kennels at Denali and can have fun doing the junior ranger activities with Mom and Dad.

The RV camping experience is great for families with kids.
Bruce | | Winner of the 2017 Bogleheads Contest | | "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
StretchArmstrong
Posts: 186
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 1:55 am
Location: north of the Yukon

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by StretchArmstrong »

What will the RV rental cost? Alaska goes from dirt cheap in the winter to ripoff in the summer.

I got this list from a friend when I first moved to Alaska. I have not done any of these, and probably never will, so can't say how good any of them are (just too far from where I'm at)-

Seward- kayaking on the ocean, lots of sea life
Harding ice field- summer time
Homer
Denali NP (you got that one already)
Hope
Day cruise out of Valdez
Drive from Fairbanks to Valdez

One time I did the drive from Fairbanks to Tok in the dead of winter, and it was no fun at all due to ice on the road. I would love to do that drive in the summer. Looked like some cool places to see and camp, and lots of history along the way.
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

littlebird wrote:Was one of the books "Milepost"? If, not, it's a must: http://www.amazon.com/Milepost-2015-Kri ... 189215434X
We don't have it yet, looks like a great one to get - thanks! Maybe we should wait until 2016 is out in March...
littlebird wrote: Because of thawing ground (otherwise known as "mud"), summer is not the ideal time to RV Alaska, especially for a newbie.
More research needed.
I admit I don't follow. A lot of the campgrounds appear to have paved or gravel paths, especially in the populated areas. Is this a concern for parking out and about?
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Bruce wrote:Check out the trip planning info at http://www.greatalaskanholidays.com

They are a quality company to consider renting from as well, and can answer all of the questions you ask even if you don't.

If you rent, get the extra damage insurance they offer, a cracked windshield from loose gravel is a common road hazard here.

Smaller size RV is just fine for three people.
Thank you for the advice!
Bruce wrote:Not to early to reserve campgrounds, but consider state parks as well as the national park.
One of the books we have is Traveler's Guide To Alaskan Camping http://www.amazon.com/Travelers-Guide-A ... ks&ie=UTF8 which appears to list both sets of campgrounds. I still need more research though before I start reserving (and will start with the flights and RV, then he campgrounds).
Bruce wrote:Don't make your vacation too much driving.
It sounds like the drives can be beautiful, but we do need to balance.
Bruce wrote:http://www.toursaver.com/ is another great resource for activities to think about.
This looks like a great resource! And on sale for a few more days...
Bruce wrote:Summer is the best time for RV camping and all of the other activities that cater to the summer tour season.

http://www.nps.gov/dena/learn/kidsyouth ... vity-2.pdf

Your seven year old will love the sled dog kennels at Denali and can have fun doing the junior ranger activities with Mom and Dad.

The RV camping experience is great for families with kids.
These all sound good! Thank you for all the info!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

AKdream wrote: The RV with the 7 YO will probably be a plus rather than camping. If you are trying to reduce your dumping, you can work around the RV tanks for a lot of certain tasks - which for 3 people you could go anywhere from 3-7 days between dumps. As for size, you will probably be fine with as small as you want to go and give you a little more flexibility on mobility.
Thank you a great ball park estimate. We've camped with vault toilets and brought our own water in for 3 days a few times and we've always had more than double the water we've used. The adults have also backpacked for longer periods, pre-kid.
AKdream wrote: Things to do?

Yes, go to Denali and plan for a couple of days to get into the park. If you bring a tent, take the bus out to Wonder Lake and camp over night OR rent a couple nights in a cabin Kantishna (not cheap, but super unique lodging in the middle of the park.) While up there, check out 49th State Brewery in Healy.
A bit out of our usual price range, and wasn't planning to fly our tent north or rent one. We'll likely have to save that idea for when it's just the two of us get to Alaska - hopefully in early retirement. Of course, the brewery could be worth a stop, I'll be the designated driver.
AKdream wrote: The road to Valdez is gorgeous, but I think you will be happier doing boat wildlife viewing out of Seward and I would probably not take the time to drive the Glenn out East on limited time while still wanting to check out Denali and the Kenai.

Seward is great, and I HIGHLY recommend taking a guided kayak trip out into Resurrection Bay (Caine's Head or Humpy Cove) would be fine with your child. If you have the time, roll around the Kenai to Homer as well - a cool town as well and you can park the RV out on the spit.

There are hikes and places to camp all over. These are just my initial thoughts off the top of my head and I'd be happy to answer any questions or give more advice.
Starting to rethink the Fairbanks/Valdez part of the trip. We had only penciled in Girwood and Seward for south of Anchorage (for sleeping) but perhaps more time in that area would be worth it. Again, we plan to be back...

I've book marked one company with kayak tours. I have to admit, we're thinking the water has to be very calm. Presume we'd have one adult and the kid in one (unless there are 3 person kayaks) then the other adult either sharing with a stranger or in a single kayak. Adults have kayaked only once before on a promoted newbie experience and the river was so wild that even the guides didn't make it through without being flipped and a few loss of oars (we kept ours). It was in a Laos, which definitely does not have the US standards in safety. If the bay is calm maybe we'll try it but perhaps we're even more cautious with a 7 year old.

Thank you!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Toons wrote:Rent an RV :happy :happy

http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/
Thanks!
SmallSaver
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by SmallSaver »

I don't have any RV advice, but have spent some time in AK. Homer and the Kenai peninsula are really great, as is Denali. Homer is RV central in the summer, so may take some logistical planning to find a spot, etc...I haven't been north of Denali, but you could take an RV up to the Arctic Circle, that could be really fun for your kid. I think it's a little off the usual RV path, but Wrangell St-Elias park is amazing.

When you're in Denali, I highly recommend doing some day hikes. The bus system is actually really easy to navigate, and it's neat to be out there by yourself when the bus pulls off. No need to go beyond the Eilson visitor center to Wonder Lake unless you want to camp for a few days, IMO (it's a long day on the bus). You're probably aware, but Denali sightings can be rare due to weather. There is a very good guidebook to hiking in the park, when I ordered a copy I ended up corresponding with the author and he answered some questions for me. I'd be happy to answer any PMs if you have questions.

edited to add: you will not be avoiding crowds in Homer or Seward in the summer, maybe some of the smaller towns on the Kenai? And I'd take a look at Wrangell St. Elias, I'm not sure what the road access / RV scene is like, but I think it'll be quieter than some other places.
Last edited by SmallSaver on Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

tibbitts wrote:Just my opinion, and I'm light on the RV Alaska experience, but I'd take the cruise first. Not that RVing wouldn't be enjoyable, but I think in a few years your child would get more out of that experience. And if you haven't done RVing I'd get a less intensive taste of it nearer to home first. You might want to schedule your cruise or cruise/tour during the school year (spring particularly), but I assume 7-year-olds can still skip school like I did at that age for vacations. Back then of course we weren't learning much beyond maybe a couple of letters in the alphabet or how to count past nine. Now the kid might miss the entire nuclear physics curriculum.
DH is kind of opposed to the cruise until we're old. We did an all inclusive once and it was not our style. We like being under our own control, and usually avoid anything other than a day tour.

We do agree, it might be more fun when DS is older. However, so may many other things. We may go back to Alaska with him, we'll almost definitely (unpredictable tragedies aside) be back without him. We're trying not to wait on all aspects until he's the right age. It'll go by fast we hear.

We've debated vacation during school, as we'd prefer it (we avoid crowds when we can and have accepted that will not be the case for this trip, except perhaps on a few of the hikes). Work is easier to schedule in the summer this year... and it does save us day care/summer camp costs if we go during the summer... but it's probably the work aspect and weather aspect that are primary.

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

StretchArmstrong wrote:What will the RV rental cost? Alaska goes from dirt cheap in the winter to ripoff in the summer.

I got this list from a friend when I first moved to Alaska. I have not done any of these, and probably never will, so can't say how good any of them are (just too far from where I'm at)-

Seward- kayaking on the ocean, lots of sea life
Harding ice field- summer time
Homer
Denali NP (you got that one already)
Hope
Day cruise out of Valdez
Drive from Fairbanks to Valdez

One time I did the drive from Fairbanks to Tok in the dead of winter, and it was no fun at all due to ice on the road. I would love to do that drive in the summer. Looked like some cool places to see and camp, and lots of history along the way.
RV Rental costs will probably be about $200/day +/-. Yes it is expensive. Finding places that sleep 3 people is also expensive (even when we add in extra fuel and campsites). We'd prefer to cook most of our meals so RV or tent camping preferred as well. We could tent camp (which we usually love - away from people) but 1) that's many nights and us adults may not prefer to go that long anymore (noise, sleeping comfort), 2) bugs for many nights (RV seems like it would be easier to escape the mosquitos), 3) ability to carry a lot while 4) ease of setting up and packing up between places and 5) a little more mental protection from the bears

On our list:
Seward, boat cruise, perhaps kayaking
Exit Glacier is on our list.
Harding Ice Field is a questionable. Our kid has done 4 hour hikes at ages 5 and 6, but if he were to putter out on a 6-8 hour hike (book says ranger led ones are 8 hours, which we hope is slower than our pace) we'd have a harder time carrying him at 7. He has routinely passed many adults, adults with older children, etc. on hikes (especially uphill ones and we've had to slow him down for us), but we're not sure how to scale the hiking times in the books we have and our abilities yet. So it may be a call when we're there. Also, we don't know if it must be a ranger led hike or we could do it ourselves... still to learn.

We have the last two on our current itinerary, but may drop them in favor of more time on the Kenai peninsula (perhaps add in Homer and some where, not sure about Hope yet) but haven't done the research.

Thank you for the tips!
mt
Posts: 150
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:25 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by mt »

Things to do in Anchorage:

Anchorage Museum
Flattop hike
eat at Glacier Brewhouse (my favorite restaurant anywhere-need reservations)
FoolStreet
Posts: 1174
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:18 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by FoolStreet »

Does anyone have recommendations for people who can help map out potential backpacking routes and make campsite reservations for us? It seems like there are outfits that will offer tours at great expense, but we are experienced backpackers who just don't have the time to deal with ranger offices or optimize routes based on permit availability. This is a question for Alaska, but also any other National Park, too. I feel like I just need to find 25 yo me and offer a planning fee. Ideas anyone?

(Also, thanks everyone for the great resources)
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

SmallSaver wrote:I don't have any RV advice, but have spent some time in AK. Homer and the Kenai peninsula are really great, as is Denali. Homer is RV central in the summer, so may take some logistical planning to find a spot, etc...I haven't been north of Denali, but you could take an RV up to the Arctic Circle, that could be really fun for your kid. I think it's a little off the usual RV path, but Wrangell St-Elias park is amazing.
Wrangell St-Elias looks great, but not sure we're going to hit it this time. What's fun about the Arctic Circle?
SmallSaver wrote:When you're in Denali, I highly recommend doing some day hikes. The bus system is actually really easy to navigate, and it's neat to be out there by yourself when the bus pulls off. No need to go beyond the Eilson visitor center to Wonder Lake unless you want to camp for a few days, IMO (it's a long day on the bus). You're probably aware, but Denali sightings can be rare due to weather. There is a very good guidebook to hiking in the park, when I ordered a copy I ended up corresponding with the author and he answered some questions for me. I'd be happy to answer any PMs if you have questions.
We're not expecting to see the mountain but hoping to see some wildlife from a distance on the bus and do day hiking. If we see the mountain we'll consider ourselves very lucky. That does look like it might be a useful book, even for just the day hikes we'd be doing. We will take a closer look. Thank you for the offer! We'll be looking at the big picture first, but will look at these types of details later.
SmallSaver wrote:edited to add: you will not be avoiding crowds in Homer or Seward in the summer, maybe some of the smaller towns on the Kenai? And I'd take a look at Wrangell St. Elias, I'm not sure what the road access / RV scene is like, but I think it'll be quieter than some other places.
We have coped with crowds before, and always expect it in the cities. We're guessing it's less bad than Times Square on New Years Eve, and we'll be fine if we've pre-booked an RV spot. We've dealt with cruise ship ports before, and have seen the drastic influx of crowds. We've found nice ways around them - usually involving being places when things open.

Thank you!
littlebird
Posts: 1681
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:05 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by littlebird »

dolphintraveler wrote:
littlebird wrote:Was one of the books "Milepost"? If, not, it's a must: http://www.amazon.com/Milepost-2015-Kri ... 189215434X
We don't have it yet, looks like a great one to get - thanks! Maybe we should wait until 2016 is out in March...
littlebird wrote: Because of thawing ground (otherwise known as "mud"), summer is not the ideal time to RV Alaska, especially for a newbie.
More research needed.
I admit I don't follow. A lot of the campgrounds appear to have paved or gravel paths, especially in the populated areas. Is this a concern for parking out and about?
Sorry. Ignore. Obsolete knowledge. We haven't RV'd in almost 30 years, altho it seems like only a coupla years ago. Should have realized that between urbanization and climate change, the Alaska of today is nothing like the Alaska of the 80's. Poster Bruce who lives in Alaska says summer is the best time to visit; I'm sure that correct now. Enjoy your trip!
white_water
Posts: 224
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:16 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by white_water »

Camping on the beach in Homer is a plus. The "Milepost" is worth the few dollars it costs for the RV info.
The Sealife center in Seward would catch a kid's interest with the huge aquariums and touch tanks.
SteveKL
Posts: 498
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:13 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by SteveKL »

FoolStreet wrote:Does anyone have recommendations for people who can help map out potential backpacking routes and make campsite reservations for us? It seems like there are outfits that will offer tours at great expense, but we are experienced backpackers who just don't have the time to deal with ranger offices or optimize routes based on permit availability. This is a question for Alaska, but also any other National Park, too. I feel like I just need to find 25 yo me and offer a planning fee. Ideas anyone?
That's a nice idea, bu in reality you need to do your own planning based on what interests you, where in the (huge) state you'll be on a particular day, and the weather you find on that day, which more than anything will make a huge difference in what you can do safely and enjoyably on a particular day. If your fixer has planned you a mountain bike ride on a dirt track, and the appointed day dawns at 42F and sideways rain, you should have the option of going to a museum or aquarium that day, or even just hanging in the RV at a nice state campground, poking at the campfire.

If you are serious about hiking (and I don't mean "serious hiking", I mean that you really want to treat yourselves to a bit of trekking), get these books and start reading. Each is written by a real live Alaskan, an active outdoorsperson who has done all the hikes they write about. These guides will give you an idea what routes would be best for you based on your time, abilities, kid, etc.

55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska, 0898867916
Explorer's Guide 50 Hikes Around Anchorage (Explorer's 50 Hikes), 0881509051
Walk About Guide to Alaska, No. 1: Kenai & Turnagain Arm, 0944780113
Walk About Guide to Alaska, No. 2: Chugach Mountians, 1888125470
Walk About Guide to Alaska, No. 3: Palmer and Hatcher Pass, 1888125837

The Milepost (previously recommended) is a must-have for any Alaska road trip, and while it does a great job of providing campground information with a few words about easy strolls, there is little to assist you with finding the best hikes near where you will be. Another thing to keep in mind is that many of the trail-heads have very limited parking even for passenger cars (a previous poster suggested Flattop, near Anchorage). There is zero parking for even a small RV at these places, so you need to plan ahead and either cab it there and back, or select hiking routes that start and end at state recreational spots such as McHugh Creek or Exit Glacier, which have improved parking lots.

(OP: Check your PM!)
letsgobobby
Posts: 12073
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by letsgobobby »

I have always wondered about RVing in (grizzly) bear country. Do you worry about bear break ins? They certainly are capable of doing so and unlike a tent, you can't well keep all scented items (food, toiletries, etc) out of your RV. This has always made me nervous about RVing in Montana, Wyoming, etc. Note I have never RVed there, partly for this reason.

We did a cruise to Alaska about ten years ago. Standard Inside Passage tour. We loved it. It would be a great choice for a 7 year old. It's so easy, and you can still get off in each town and doing a bunch of hiking or kayaking. With your time frame you could do a one way cruise north to south which will drop you off in Seward, then you could do a week of more regular touring.
User avatar
oldzey
Posts: 1597
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:38 pm
Location: Land of Lincoln

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by oldzey »

I'd also put in a plug for doing a cruise first.

Here's the map of the cruise I took last July:

Image

Family members (7 total) on the cruise ranged from ages 10 to 80. Everyone had a great time - we were truly spoiled.

Glacier Bay was breathtaking - and you can't pull a RV up next to a glacier like you can with a cruise ship. :D

Lots of options to do each day while on a cruise. We also spent an extra day in Seattle as well, which was great.
"The broker said the stock was 'poised to move.' Silly me, I thought he meant up." ― Randy Thurman
User avatar
Bruce
Posts: 377
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:02 am
Location: Alaska

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Bruce »

Or you can use the Alaska Marine highway as your own "cruise ship"

Many trip ideas on their website

Here is one using the ferry from Valdez back to Whittier with your RV.
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/sample/ ... _pws.shtml
Bruce | | Winner of the 2017 Bogleheads Contest | | "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
tibbitts
Posts: 12829
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by tibbitts »

dolphintraveler wrote:
tibbitts wrote:Just my opinion, and I'm light on the RV Alaska experience, but I'd take the cruise first. Not that RVing wouldn't be enjoyable, but I think in a few years your child would get more out of that experience. And if you haven't done RVing I'd get a less intensive taste of it nearer to home first. You might want to schedule your cruise or cruise/tour during the school year (spring particularly), but I assume 7-year-olds can still skip school like I did at that age for vacations. Back then of course we weren't learning much beyond maybe a couple of letters in the alphabet or how to count past nine. Now the kid might miss the entire nuclear physics curriculum.
DH is kind of opposed to the cruise until we're old. We did an all inclusive once and it was not our style. We like being under our own control, and usually avoid anything other than a day tour.

We do agree, it might be more fun when DS is older. However, so may many other things. We may go back to Alaska with him, we'll almost definitely (unpredictable tragedies aside) be back without him. We're trying not to wait on all aspects until he's the right age. It'll go by fast we hear.

We've debated vacation during school, as we'd prefer it (we avoid crowds when we can and have accepted that will not be the case for this trip, except perhaps on a few of the hikes). Work is easier to schedule in the summer this year... and it does save us day care/summer camp costs if we go during the summer... but it's probably the work aspect and weather aspect that are primary.

Thanks!
I don't know what an "inclusive" cruise is, but an ordinary cruise today is completely unstructured, except for the times you arrive in and exit ports. The weather would be more of a controlling factor than whether you travel by RV or cruise ship.

If you do want to rent an RV, consider a truck camper rental, which is almost uniquely available in Alaska. It will almost certainly have 4wd and be able to navigate some areas where larger RVs couldn't. I've seen even tour drivers familiar with Alaska get stuck in the mud in fairly populated areas, so 4wd could come in handy.

Someone mentioned protection from wildlife. If you take a cruise, the decision on whether to bring a firearm has been made for you: they're prohibited. Some people don't feel comfortable on a cruise without a firearm and hesitate to take cruises for that reason. On the other hand, a very high percentage of RVers in Alaska will be armed. In the extremely unlikely event that any wildlife were to attack your RV in a populated camping area, my guess is that gunfire would immediately break out from every direction, which may be comforting to you, or not.
User avatar
Sheepdog
Posts: 5678
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:05 pm
Location: Indiana, retired 1998 at age 65

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Sheepdog »

An interesting tidbit of being in Alaska in June and July....there is very little darkness. If you golf, you can make tee reservations at 3 AM in several locations.
All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
Spencer
Posts: 143
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:20 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Spencer »

We spent 4+ months in AK this past summer in a large motorhome, and highly recommend it.

Few points
- Milepost and Church's RV book are must haves.
- If you are limited on time, skip Fairbanks unless you want to go to Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton. We did this, and loved it, but fairbanks itself didn't do much for us.
- We loved Valdez and the side trip to McCarthy. The views in (and into) Valdez are some of the best in the State. Columbia glacier trip is recommended as well. McCarthy (and Kennecott Mine) are extremely unique, and one of the best, off the beaten path, spots we found.
- Kenai peninsula is a zoo on the weekends. Try to limit stays to mid-week if possible. Homer, Seward are both good spots. Girdwood is beautiful but you could probably limit to a long lunch stopover (or diner at Seven Glaciers at top of the mountain!).
- Denali- Get reservations ASAP. Try to stay in Teklanika if possible. This is as far as you can go into the park with an RV and cuts off some of the bus ride into the park. You will vow to never ride a bus again after you stay here but it is an adventure. Don't kill yourself going to the end of the road if you don't feel like it. Splurge here is a plane flight to Denali with a glacier landing. Simply amazing. Top 3 things we did in the state. Expensive but you'll never forget it.
- Anchorage is OK. Wouldn't spend time here if it means you are missing another part of the state. RV parks are horrible in town. Stay at Eagle River north of town if you need to stay in the area.
- Bugs weren't bad at all but keep bug spray around if you hit a pocket of them.
- Days never end in the summer. We loved it but took a week or so to get used to sleeping. Bring eye masks.
- I spent some time in the SE portion of the state fishing as well. Great area but you must stay away from the cruise ship towns/ports. If you've been on a cruise, you know what i mean. Diamond stores and junky souvenir shops galore.

Can't recommend the trip enough. Amazing place.
mkc
Posts: 437
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by mkc »

dolphintraveler wrote:
2) How often would I likely need to dump the RV - once a week, every third day?
As a long-time RVer, the answer to this one is "it depends".

Size of holding tanks. Use of RV tanks vs. campground bath house/bathrooms (if showering in the RV, military style vs. letting water run). Disposable dishes vs. washing them.

With our 115 gallon gray and 56 gallon black tanks, we (2 people) can go 10-14 days if we are frugal and use the campground facilities for showers, but our tanks are unusually large, even for a class A. A class C will have less than 1/2 or even 1/3 that capacity.

Michelle
testing321
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 6:46 pm
Location: kansas city

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by testing321 »

I spent a few weeks traveling in Alaska and I remember the mosquitoes could bite me through a brand new pair of button up Levis.
hyla
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:45 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by hyla »

I think a smaller RV would be a lot more practical than a large one, and that you could even get by with a campervan if you didn't mind tight quarters. I'm speaking as someone who lived in a 27 ft RV with 3 others for two months at a field job - it was manageable for us, so you should be fine with 3 on a shorter vacation in something smaller. A smaller vehicle is way easier to manage. A 30 foot RV cannot make it down some twisty dirt roads (which I imagine Alaska has in abundance) that smaller RVs can. I've worked in two national parks, and have seen numerous tourists with their oversized rental RVs struggling to find parking, getting their RVs stuck in gas stations cause they don't know how to back something so long, or not being able to even go on the roads that go to the really neat, more remote spots.

It's also possible to minimize (or avoid altogether) dumping the septic tank by simply limiting (or avoiding) toilet use. Even if you are sleeping in your RV, you can always use the bathroom at a campground, gas stations, or just the great outdoors (as long as you are familiar with leave no trace methods for dealing with human waste!). When I lived in an RV we actually avoided bathroom use altogether and used a port a potty at our site instead because it was easier than dealing with pumping out the tank.
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

mt wrote:Things to do in Anchorage:

Anchorage Museum
Flattop hike
eat at Glacier Brewhouse (my favorite restaurant anywhere-need reservations)
Thanks! Flattop hike looks pretty cool - still have to read up on the museum.

Thanks for the tips!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

white_water wrote:Camping on the beach in Homer is a plus. The "Milepost" is worth the few dollars it costs for the RV info.
The Sealife center in Seward would catch a kid's interest with the huge aquariums and touch tanks.
Sealife Center is on our list.

The Milepost we have on hold at the library and will pickup. We'll buy the new one in March - seems a popular recommendation.

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

letsgobobby wrote:I have always wondered about RVing in (grizzly) bear country. Do you worry about bear break ins? They certainly are capable of doing so and unlike a tent, you can't well keep all scented items (food, toiletries, etc) out of your RV. This has always made me nervous about RVing in Montana, Wyoming, etc. Note I have never RVed there, partly for this reason.
What I've read says leave the food inside the RV, but if there is a bear box we could use it. We've used them all the time in California and we've seen many a bear around campgrounds. Also tied our food way up in trees and had have had a bear in our tent camp when backpacking that did confirm we did a good job (the bear didn't get any of our food). So I guess I don't know why I'm liking the idea more, perhaps because CA doesn't have grizzly's.
letsgobobby wrote:We did a cruise to Alaska about ten years ago. Standard Inside Passage tour. We loved it. It would be a great choice for a 7 year old. It's so easy, and you can still get off in each town and doing a bunch of hiking or kayaking. With your time frame you could do a one way cruise north to south which will drop you off in Seward, then you could do a week of more regular touring.
I'll admit, it's probably the smart thing to do. And we'd likely enjoy it. But we're not planning a cruise this time around. Perhaps just silly.

Thanks!
Last edited by dolphintraveler on Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

oldzey wrote:I'd also put in a plug for doing a cruise first.

Here's the map of the cruise I took last July:

Image

Family members (7 total) on the cruise ranged from ages 10 to 80. Everyone had a great time - we were truly spoiled.

Glacier Bay was breathtaking - and you can't pull a RV up next to a glacier like you can with a cruise ship. :D

Lots of options to do each day while on a cruise. We also spent an extra day in Seattle as well, which was great.
These Cruises do sound nice. We're thinking hiking to Exit Glacier, perhaps Harding Ice field, and there are 2-4 tours we're looking at on boats to get us close to glaciers. Adults have been on them in NZ before, but we don't plan to hike on them with the kid this time around.

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

tibbitts wrote: I don't know what an "inclusive" cruise is, but an ordinary cruise today is completely unstructured, except for the times you arrive in and exit ports. The weather would be more of a controlling factor than whether you travel by RV or cruise ship.
Silly me. All inclusive hotel. We spent most of our time away from it and all the included and activities (and most of the food).
tibbitts wrote:If you do want to rent an RV, consider a truck camper rental, which is almost uniquely available in Alaska. It will almost certainly have 4wd and be able to navigate some areas where larger RVs couldn't. I've seen even tour drivers familiar with Alaska get stuck in the mud in fairly populated areas, so 4wd could come in handy.
Haven't looked into that - will do. Thanks for the tip!
tibbitts wrote:Someone mentioned protection from wildlife. If you take a cruise, the decision on whether to bring a firearm has been made for you: they're prohibited. Some people don't feel comfortable on a cruise without a firearm and hesitate to take cruises for that reason. On the other hand, a very high percentage of RVers in Alaska will be armed. In the extremely unlikely event that any wildlife were to attack your RV in a populated camping area, my guess is that gunfire would immediately break out from every direction, which may be comforting to you, or not.
That is interesting! It shouldn't surprise me that guns would be prevalent. We won't have one, and hopefully we won't have any encounters with any guns being shot while we're there.

I've been on a cruise as a kid, it was fine. It's just not our current style of travel.

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Bruce wrote:Or you can use the Alaska Marine highway as your own "cruise ship"

Many trip ideas on their website

Here is one using the ferry from Valdez back to Whittier with your RV.
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/sample/ ... _pws.shtml
That is interesting. Not cheap if we have an RV, but still worth consideration.

Thanks for the tip (and all the others above)!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Sheepdog wrote:An interesting tidbit of being in Alaska in June and July....there is very little darkness. If you golf, you can make tee reservations at 3 AM in several locations.
Yes, that will be interesting. We've heard we should buy some aluminum foil to cover the windows. I'll bring sleep shades, but the foil sounds good too - especially for the kid.

Perhaps I should google and see if there are other ideas...

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Spencer wrote:We spent 4+ months in AK this past summer in a large motorhome, and highly recommend it.

Few points
- Milepost and Church's RV book are must haves.
Have Church's RV book, will borrow Milepost from the library until the next one comes out in a few months.
Spencer wrote: - If you are limited on time, skip Fairbanks unless you want to go to Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton. We did this, and loved it, but fairbanks itself didn't do much for us.
- We loved Valdez and the side trip to McCarthy. The views in (and into) Valdez are some of the best in the State. Columbia glacier trip is recommended as well. McCarthy (and Kennecott Mine) are extremely unique, and one of the best, off the beaten path, spots we found.
Thank you! Fairbanks didn't seem to have anything we couldn't live without. Valdez was questionable but your input is extremely helpful. We'd dropped McCarthy, but will re-look at it.
Spencer wrote: - Kenai peninsula is a zoo on the weekends. Try to limit stays to mid-week if possible. Homer, Seward are both good spots. Girdwood is beautiful but you could probably limit to a long lunch stopover (or diner at Seven Glaciers at top of the mountain!).
Hmmm... I believe that about the zoo. We're undecided on Homer, but will leave Seward in.
For Girwood, we were thinking of a trip to a glacier here, that might be fun for all of us:
http://alaskanrafting.com/product/spenc ... ver-float/
Spencer wrote: - Denali- Get reservations ASAP. Try to stay in Teklanika if possible. This is as far as you can go into the park with an RV and cuts off some of the bus ride into the park. You will vow to never ride a bus again after you stay here but it is an adventure. Don't kill yourself going to the end of the road if you don't feel like it. Splurge here is a plane flight to Denali with a glacier landing. Simply amazing. Top 3 things we did in the state. Expensive but you'll never forget it.
Thanks for the tips! Teklanika is our top choice, but we're still waiting approval from work on dates before we will book. Thanks for the flight and bus tips too.
Spencer wrote: - Anchorage is OK. Wouldn't spend time here if it means you are missing another part of the state. RV parks are horrible in town. Stay at Eagle River north of town if you need to stay in the area.
Thank you!
Spencer wrote: - Bugs weren't bad at all but keep bug spray around if you hit a pocket of them.
- Days never end in the summer. We loved it but took a week or so to get used to sleeping. Bring eye masks.
- I spent some time in the SE portion of the state fishing as well. Great area but you must stay away from the cruise ship towns/ports. If you've been on a cruise, you know what i mean. Diamond stores and junky souvenir shops galore.

Can't recommend the trip enough. Amazing place.
4+ months - sounds awesome.

Thanks for all the tips!
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 21796
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Watty »

Be sure to carefully check on the availability of the things you want to do up there. I looked into going up to Alaska again a few years ago and I saw several comments mentioning that many of the more popular outings are often completely booked up by large tour companies.
dolphintraveler wrote:
DH is kind of opposed to the cruise until we're old.
For future reference an alternative to a cruise is that Alaska has a good( at least many years ago) ferry system that goes many of the same places that the cruise ships go to.

http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/

You can combine that shorter excursions on smaller boats that can get into places that the big cruise ships can't.

I did that when I was in my 20's and was backpacking up there and I had a great time. Back then you could set up your tent on the deck so it was like a big low key party of people backpacking on the ferry. The have basic cabins too but you can often plan the steps of your trip so that you are only on the ferry for a few hours each time you go between cities.
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

mkc wrote:
dolphintraveler wrote:
2) How often would I likely need to dump the RV - once a week, every third day?
As a long-time RVer, the answer to this one is "it depends".

Size of holding tanks. Use of RV tanks vs. campground bath house/bathrooms (if showering in the RV, military style vs. letting water run). Disposable dishes vs. washing them.

With our 115 gallon gray and 56 gallon black tanks, we (2 people) can go 10-14 days if we are frugal and use the campground facilities for showers, but our tanks are unusually large, even for a class A. A class C will have less than 1/2 or even 1/3 that capacity.

Michelle
Thank you for the estimate. Our concern was really for 3 people 3 days, and since it appears we'll have vault toilets and running water (facet) it'd probably be primarily for washing hands and if we're feeling lucky a shower each. I presume there is a measuring device that would let us know, so we'd be able to calibrate with usage.

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

testing321 wrote:I spent a few weeks traveling in Alaska and I remember the mosquitoes could bite me through a brand new pair of button up Levis.
Ug!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

hyla wrote:I think a smaller RV would be a lot more practical than a large one, and that you could even get by with a campervan if you didn't mind tight quarters. I'm speaking as someone who lived in a 27 ft RV with 3 others for two months at a field job - it was manageable for us, so you should be fine with 3 on a shorter vacation in something smaller. A smaller vehicle is way easier to manage. A 30 foot RV cannot make it down some twisty dirt roads (which I imagine Alaska has in abundance) that smaller RVs can. I've worked in two national parks, and have seen numerous tourists with their oversized rental RVs struggling to find parking, getting their RVs stuck in gas stations cause they don't know how to back something so long, or not being able to even go on the roads that go to the really neat, more remote spots.

It's also possible to minimize (or avoid altogether) dumping the septic tank by simply limiting (or avoiding) toilet use. Even if you are sleeping in your RV, you can always use the bathroom at a campground, gas stations, or just the great outdoors (as long as you are familiar with leave no trace methods for dealing with human waste!). When I lived in an RV we actually avoided bathroom use altogether and used a port a potty at our site instead because it was easier than dealing with pumping out the tank.
Good advice. Smaller may be way more useful for us! 27' was the max I was considering but these tips are very good reasons to focus on the shorter vehicles. We'll make do with the space fine.

The dumping is interesting idea, and one we may manage. The sinks seem like the most useful feature, and probably require dumping as well though. Perhaps if we just sinks it'll be less frequent dumping. To be researched.

Thanks!
Topic Author
dolphintraveler
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by dolphintraveler »

Watty wrote:Be sure to carefully check on the availability of the things you want to do up there. I looked into going up to Alaska again a few years ago and I saw several comments mentioning that many of the more popular outings are often completely booked up by large tour companies.
That could be, we'll have to book flights, RV, then campgrounds and tours. Sounds like a lot should be done this month if we can coordinate it with work.
Watty wrote:For future reference an alternative to a cruise is that Alaska has a good( at least many years ago) ferry system that goes many of the same places that the cruise ships go to.

http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/

You can combine that shorter excursions on smaller boats that can get into places that the big cruise ships can't.

I did that when I was in my 20's and was backpacking up there and I had a great time. Back then you could set up your tent on the deck so it was like a big low key party of people backpacking on the ferry. The have basic cabins too but you can often plan the steps of your trip so that you are only on the ferry for a few hours each time you go between cities.
Yes that does look interesting. It's been recommended, doesn't appear cheap with an RV, but worthy of investigation.

Thanks!
mkc
Posts: 437
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by mkc »

dolphintraveler wrote:
The dumping is interesting idea, and one we may manage. The sinks seem like the most useful feature, and probably require dumping as well though. Perhaps if we just sinks it'll be less frequent dumping. To be researched.

Thanks!
Yes, sinks and shower go into grey tank, toilet into black. (in most RVs. Some of the newer high end ones have a single waste holding tank) We actually fill the grey faster than the black if we're showering in the RV (even with military-style showers).

Dump black first then grey so grey water rinses sewer hose. NEVER use the water at a dump station to fill your fresh tank (there's sometimes a sign to remind you it's non-potable water). It's there for you to rinse your sewer hose (and rinse down the dump inlet). Wear disposable gloves to dump. It's really not that bad once you get the hang of it.

There will usually be a tank monitoring system to let you know how you're doing, but a lot of them are 1/3 - 2/3 - full. Not terribly useful. And the black and grey tank ones are notorious for being wrong (usually underestimating, not the other way around).

The great thing is that RVers are generally a helpful, friendly bunch. Let the neighbors in a campground/rv park know you're newbies and most will help show you the ropes. Not quite as humorously as depicted in the movie "RV', but close :wink:

You might check out irv2.com and rv.net forums for more info/advice, too.

Michelle
User avatar
akblizzard
Posts: 158
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 4:25 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by akblizzard »

dolphintraveler wrote:
We don't fish, but we love to hike. Kid is too young to do glacier hiking from our current research but we can hike up to at least one glacier. Perhaps 2-3 day trips on boats for wildlife viewing (Valdez, Whitter?, Seward).
As a resident, I enjoy seeing Alaska through other's eyes. Since I've driven and rode the Harley on every part of the AK road system (a few times), I have a couple of comments to add. First, absolutely get a Milepost but don't fret over the current year. You know, the roads just don't change that much from year to year. :happy Second, the bear fears expressed on this thread are (very) over the top. I tent camp both on the road system and backpacking / hunting, never had a bear problem in 25 yrs. If you are heading to Seward, and interested in glaciers and boat trips, check into Exit Glacier area. A good hike for a 7 year old, with a lot of room to explore. There are two trailheads in the same area, one up to the Harding Ice Fields (probably too much for a 7 YO, but you don't have to do the whole thing) and the trail up the Resurrection River. Again, you don't have to do the whole thing, but a good outing. As for the boat trip, check out the best way to see a lot of great scenery and animals at http://www.kenaifjords.com . You'll have a blast no matter what you do and make some great memories.
snert31
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:07 am

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by snert31 »

Watching the videos here may be helpful. They even have a way around dumping - if you're willing to get your hands dirty, so to speak. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... i_WZTMD2K3
AKdream
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:08 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by AKdream »

dolphintraveler wrote:
AKdream wrote: The RV with the 7 YO will probably be a plus rather than camping. If you are trying to reduce your dumping, you can work around the RV tanks for a lot of certain tasks - which for 3 people you could go anywhere from 3-7 days between dumps. As for size, you will probably be fine with as small as you want to go and give you a little more flexibility on mobility.
Thank you a great ball park estimate. We've camped with vault toilets and brought our own water in for 3 days a few times and we've always had more than double the water we've used. The adults have also backpacked for longer periods, pre-kid.
AKdream wrote: Things to do?

Yes, go to Denali and plan for a couple of days to get into the park. If you bring a tent, take the bus out to Wonder Lake and camp over night OR rent a couple nights in a cabin Kantishna (not cheap, but super unique lodging in the middle of the park.) While up there, check out 49th State Brewery in Healy.
A bit out of our usual price range, and wasn't planning to fly our tent north or rent one. We'll likely have to save that idea for when it's just the two of us get to Alaska - hopefully in early retirement. Of course, the brewery could be worth a stop, I'll be the designated driver.
AKdream wrote: The road to Valdez is gorgeous, but I think you will be happier doing boat wildlife viewing out of Seward and I would probably not take the time to drive the Glenn out East on limited time while still wanting to check out Denali and the Kenai.

Seward is great, and I HIGHLY recommend taking a guided kayak trip out into Resurrection Bay (Caine's Head or Humpy Cove) would be fine with your child. If you have the time, roll around the Kenai to Homer as well - a cool town as well and you can park the RV out on the spit.

There are hikes and places to camp all over. These are just my initial thoughts off the top of my head and I'd be happy to answer any questions or give more advice.
Starting to rethink the Fairbanks/Valdez part of the trip. We had only penciled in Girwood and Seward for south of Anchorage (for sleeping) but perhaps more time in that area would be worth it. Again, we plan to be back...

I've book marked one company with kayak tours. I have to admit, we're thinking the water has to be very calm. Presume we'd have one adult and the kid in one (unless there are 3 person kayaks) then the other adult either sharing with a stranger or in a single kayak. Adults have kayaked only once before on a promoted newbie experience and the river was so wild that even the guides didn't make it through without being flipped and a few loss of oars (we kept ours). It was in a Laos, which definitely does not have the US standards in safety. If the bay is calm maybe we'll try it but perhaps we're even more cautious with a 7 year old.

Thank you!
I've only ever had one experience in Resurrection that I wouldn't approve for a 7 YO and that was a badly timed circumnavigation of Fox Island that left us exposed to the Gulf of Alaska. You won't be anywhere close to that with the outfits in Seward. If you truly do have concerns, take Miller's Landing or one of the other guides out to Humpy Cove for a paddle. It's very protected and an awesome kayak destination with a great waterfall and usually sea lions out fishing.

I really want to sell you on doing at least one kayaking trip because its an amazing way to see Alaska and probably far safer, in a guided situation, then you probably are imagining.

I'd also agree with akblizzard above that bear fears over exaggerated. Brown bears are real, and a real potential danger - but preparing yourself with basic reading on how to handle brown bear encounters and simple intelligence will keep you out of danger.

I'd also like to second the poster above who said to eat at the Glacier BrewHouse in Anchorage!
Braje
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:06 pm

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by Braje »

I live in AK we tent camped for years before upgrading to an RV. We just leave the food in the RV with no problems with bears, but we do keep a clean camp. I enjoy the AK Native Heritage Museum http://www.alaskanative.net/ in Anchorage. I would suggest, if you go to Fairbanks go up on the Parks Hwy to Denali then Fairbanks, then down the Richardson from Fairbanks. You will be able to see the Pipeline and Matanuska Glacier. It is a beautiful drive. I am not sure the RV rental places allow you to drive the Dalton. You might was to look at the Alaska forum on http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g2 ... laska.html
User avatar
White Coat Investor
Posts: 15146
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Greatest Snow On Earth

Re: Alaska in July, first time RV

Post by White Coat Investor »

I grew up in Alaska and have visited as a tourist. Hands down, the best three "tourist" activities I've done are:

# 1 A fly-in fishing trip
# 2 Flightseeing around Denali on a clear day.
# 3 The 26 glacier cruise out of Whittier on a nice day

Driving an RV around on the highway system would be pretty far down my list, but if I were I'd be sure to include Whittier (can you get an RV through the tunnel now?) and Seward. I would much rather go from Whittier or Seward to Valdez by boat or plane than by car.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course
Post Reply