North To Alaska, report No. 1
Dateline: Whitehorse, Yukon, June 21, 2008
Well, greetings all and welcome to the first report from our trip.
First off, a general note: We are WAY too early for many facilities and camps, particularly in
Alberta in Jasper and Banff parks - many places don't even open until late June this year.
Secondly, I'm not giving daily mileage figures, they are a pita...
6/11 - Home to Valley of the Rogue State Park, near Medford, OR.
Day one of the re-start, we jetted straight up I-5 trying to recover our lost
ground. This park is in the shadow of I-5 so some of the sites are very noisy
but it's a well equipped park with showers and laundry. Sunny weather today.
The car continues to tow well, so that's great. Showers are decent, hot enough
but like many we will see, a bit on the small side.
6/12 - Nehalem Bay State Park, Oregon Coast, north of Tillamook
One must stop to stock up on cheese at the Tillamook factory store, the choices
and prices are quite good and there's plenty of parking for the rigs.
This park is on a coastal dune location and you can walk to the beach from the camp,
they also have accommodation for horses. However, this park is wildly popular in the
summer so reservations are recommended - it's a great place for kids with the ocean
right there. Also worth seeing here is the old NAS Tillamook, which has a blimp
hangar from WWII and a very nice collection of old warbirds. Great showers
6/13 - Memaloose State Park, on the Columbia River, Oregon
We continued up the coast of Oregon to Astoria, then turned inland on the south side of
the Columbia River. This camp is near Mt. Hood, OR. The trip up river takes you from
coastal rainforest to near desert conditions. It's on the river, although we found it a bit
windy and again close to the highway, it's still a nice location. Again, showers are
adequate and the site is good.
6/14 - Sun Lakes State Park, Near Coulee City, WA
This park will not go down as one of our favorites - the tent sites are very closely spaced
and the RV section [power and water] has no trees to speak of, however the views
are pretty darn good. We drove up from The Dalles. It's an interesting trip with both nice
areas and sun blasted places one would never choose to live.
6/15 - CANADA - Gladstone Prov. Park, BC.
Ouch. $21. to camp. No services, showers or flush toilets. We crossed the border
on Wash Hwy 21 and found that we could not take any of our fresh produce or firewood
into Canada. Yepers, all into the incinerator. then another shopping trip to replace all
we lost. Sigh. They were really anal about weapons and that includes Bear Spray, which
they sell in Canada and is legal to carry there [so why can it not cross the border?].
This part of WA was very scenic and relatively remote, roads were great and the weather
continues to please us with reasonably warm and mostly dry weather.
We are also settling into our travelling routine, with shopping stops planned, meal planning
for the shopping, fuel stop routines and most importantly: Visit EVERY information booth
the first time we enter a state/province. They all have guides to camping locations. Handy.
6/16 - Martha Creek Prov. Park, 20 K north of Revelstoke, BC
Well, the Revelstoke park has camping, provided you can walk into the camps some
15K or more [backcountry park] but the area around Revelstoke is very scenic. The
Martha Creek park is small but has some great views and is right on a nice large lake.
No showers, unfortunately. Seems like there are not a lot of people living around here,
but there are plenty of small towns around.
6/17 - Lake Louise NP, Alberta.
When they call the National Parks crown jewels, it must explain why they charge so
much for them. $32/night, but that does include a decent shower, and it's much less
than the Lake Louise Lodge [Fairmont Hotel property], but they also nick you for $20
A DAY for the park pass - yes, that's right, what would get you a weeks stay in Yellowstone
or Yosemite gets you exactly ONE day in Canada. They also have bear issues that they tend
to sort of ignore, except that the tent camp has an electric fence around it.
Many of the smaller campgrounds have not even opened for the season yet.
6/18 - Whistler Campground, Jasper NP, Jasper, Alberta.
The Icefields Parkway drive was most certainly a highlight drive. It's one of the most scenic
drives I have ever seen, and if I had not been trekking in Nepal previously, I'd say they are
some of the most impressive mountains ever, as it is, it was superb. A full day of scenery
beyond photography. They call it an 'all-weather' road, and they are not kidding, we had
Sun, Rain and Snow, all in the same hour at one point. The Columbia Icefield is just
amazing and the visitor center is well worth the hour it takes to walk thru.
Jasper is one of the nicest towns we have seen - it's very tourist oriented, but not in a bad
way, and it's a hub or outdoor activity.
6/19 - Charley Lake Prov. Park, just outside Fort St. John, BC
This is a very nice park, small and no amenities, but one of the nicest managers we have
encountered yet. She strongly suggested we stop at Liard Hot Springs.
We have finally started on the official Alaska Highway, being some miles NW of Dawson
Creek, which is Milepost 0 on the original route.
Once we left Jasper, we went north to Grand Prarie, and the transisiton from mountains to
Prarie is abrupt and it's vastly different. Nice. Plenty of campgrounds on this road, but
the majority of them are primitive camps.
6/20 - Liard Hot Springs, BC
If the 18th was 'The Weather Channel', today was Animal Planet:
Brown and Grizzley Bears, Caribou, Moose, Stone Sheep, Bison and Deer
and we did not even get out of the car....
This is one popular weekend campsite - they let us camp in the overflow parking lot, but
unfortunately the well was dry so there was no water. Glad the trailer carries it's own
The Hot Springs were well worth the special stop - I would strongly recommend that
you stop for a nice hot soak. Yum.
6/21 - Whitehorse, Yukon
OK, we are cheating tonight, we needed to do laundry and a nice shower, so we splurged
on a room for the night. Unfortunately, everyone else is here in Whitehorse as well, we had
a hard time finding a room - seems that everyone thought that the Solistice would be the
perfect day for their summer event - there are 6 going on, including a fast-pitch softball tourney
with 100 teams in town, a Honda Goldwing gathering, a First Nations event plus the usual
events celebrating the day.
But we got a good Pizza at Tony's [you would never know it was that good from the street]
and we have internet access so here we are.
Saw our first Bald Eagle today and that was very very good. The road is surprisingly good
and traffic is still light but there are plenty of cars heading back south already!
Lots and lots of bikes on the road too.
Pics have been uploaded.