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Plan a trip on august 2020 in Alaska/Yukon

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Old Sunday 8th December 2019, 17:42   #1
Claude_
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Plan a trip on august 2020 in Alaska/Yukon

Hello

We are planing our future trip in Alaska and Yukon, on august/september 2020.
Wildlife observation : bears - birds - bears and the salmon run - landscapes - hiking.

Can anybody help us ?
or
Do somebody know any alaskan or US naturalists forum ?

Thank you very much
Claude


- landing / taking of at Anchorage
- august 17 -> september 10 (24 days) : booked
- rent a regular car : booked
- sleep in afordable lodges, hotels, cabins... : not booked for the moment
- obligatory passages - for the moment :
First : Haines for the salmon run
Finish : with the Denali NP

if you want - you can see our loop

is there on our loop some speacial places to make a stop ?
some other areas like haines for bears ?
We are wondering about Waldez
We are wondering about the train : Anchorage => Steward + boat cruise
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Old Monday 9th December 2019, 07:55   #2
marcsantacurz
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I took a trip 2 years ago with a small group from Anchorage - Seward - Fairbanks - Coldfoot. It was 2 weeks and a lot of driving! but it was fantastic wildlife and photography.

Around Anchorage, Potter Creek Marsh, just a bit south, is worth a visit. You'll likely see many variety of birds, and the terns and geese are nesting so you'll likely see little guys or nestlings just off the road. There's a viewing area with a boardwalk where you might see moose. Just a little south of that is a large pull out by the road that is a better bird viewing area.

We went from Anchorage south to Seward (stopping at Tern Lake, then on whale watching at Seward), then back to Anchorage and out highway 1. The Seward area is pretty popular and lots of people and campers down there. We drove, so I don't know what the train experience is like. If you drive, there's a nice natural history museum near Portage. Most of the drive around Turnagain Arm does not have much sea birds as the bay has way too much glacial flour to support birds and their food. There's only some very small fish, though we did see a lot of bald eagles near Portage. There is a large sea swell through Turnagain that is impressive to see.

From Anchorage, went north at Highway 4 then west on Highway 8 (Denali Highway). This gets very wilderness and you might need to camp off the road.

The Maclaren River Lodge at mile 42 of the Denali Highway is a very nice place to stop and eat, if not to get a room. Its right on what I assume is the Mclaren River, which is a north/south river across the 8.

On the western part of 8 near Cantwell, there are a lot of small lakes. Lot's of bird activity in that area. And you'll see all sorts of Caribou and Ptarmigans along 8.

At the Denali National Park, you can drive your own vehicle as far as the Salvage River, then park and hike and photograph. Then drive back to the ranger headquarters and get on a tour bus. The tours are long but worth it. We took the one out past Polychrome Overlook. I think we turned around at Tolkat River Station. On that bus tour you'll see the most dense wildlife -- bears, caribu, fox, etc.

From the 8, we went to Denali National Park, then continued north on the 3 out past Coldfoot up in the Brooks Range. You should at least try to get to the Yukon River. The Yukon River Camp just north of the river has nice showers and dining hall. Just across the street is a nature area you can walk around. Saw snowy owl fledgling and Merlin there, among others.

The only place we saw bears was Denali National Park (see below) and going off the highway near Coldfoot. Bears are often hunted in Alaska and you won't find them just hanging around. Moose yes, bears no.

Coldfoot is a good basecamp for that area, either camping or staying at the truck stop. The coldfoot roadstop is a good place to eat -- just don't sit in the trucker section if you're not a trucker. Also, if you do drive up past the Yukon, it's best to slow down and pull right for trucks coming towards you to avoid hitting road debris at a fast pace. 35 - 40 mps over the gravel roads is about tops you want to drive.

There's a ranger station and natural history museum in Coldfoot. You should definitely stop by there and talk to the rangers before going up into the Brooks range. They'll give you the rundown on the weather and what to expect. They also have a board of recent wildlife sightings. If there's a storm coming in, you should consult with them about what's safe to drive to. There was a storm coming in when we visited, so we only went just past the Brooks Range pass, explored the northern slope, then turned around instead of pressing on.

A bit past Coldfoot is a turnoff for Wiseman. If you follow the roads west up into the hills you can see a lot more wildlife. We saw bears and a wolf and fox and porcupine. But it's very much 4wd dirt roads. It's usually cleared and not technical 4wd, but it's dirt roads often with large puddles that you need to get through.

The Chandler glacier area is also great to see.

You should bring as much mosquito equipment as you can. A full head net with brim is advisable. The mosquitos can be think as fog sometimes. We were very lucky on our trip and except for a few stops, the mosquitoes were very light. This is why birds migrate there! There is so much food for them. My girlfriend and I did ok without any deet by having netting and good clothing and gloves. Often we would only use a hat, neck gator, and bandana mask. When we were not right near water, we could relax some.

If you are going to be in a regular car, I'd skip the off-road stuff at Wiseman. You also need to plan your trip along the Denali Highway to make sure you have 2 - 3 lodges setup. We had tents and camping gear so could stay at the many roadside camp areas.

I have not done the route you planned going south into Canada. I know one of the people on our trip flew (sea plane?) to Juneau and had a great time there.

I hope that helped. I want to get another Alaska trip together, I would love to see those places again.

Marc
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Old Monday 9th December 2019, 18:20   #3
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Hi Marcsantacurz

Thanx for all these informations which are precious

we would like to drive on Highway 8 (Denali Highway) - but it's a gravel road
and with our regular car we are not suppose to go on this highway ..... which could de a bad way

Claude

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Old Wednesday 11th December 2019, 00:26   #4
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Originally Posted by Claude_ View Post
Hi Marcsantacurz

Thanx for all these informations which are precious

we would like to drive on Highway 8 (Denali Highway) - but it's a gravel road
and with our regular car we are not suppose to go on this highway ..... which could de a bad way

Claude
Gravel roads are a hazard, particularly as they also are used by large trucks that often spray stones from their dual wheels. A stick on plastic windshield cover can help avoid cracked or chipped windshields.
Apart from that however, they are perfectly OK for a regular car if driven conservatively. However, the rental car company may have restrictions and they can use the GPS data to verify whether these have been observed.
Maybe best to allow for a four wheel drive instead, despite the cost.
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Old Wednesday 11th December 2019, 18:32   #5
marcsantacurz
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Gravel roads are a hazard, particularly as they also are used by large trucks that often spray stones from their dual wheels. A stick on plastic windshield cover can help avoid cracked or chipped windshields.
Apart from that however, they are perfectly OK for a regular car if driven conservatively. However, the rental car company may have restrictions and they can use the GPS data to verify whether these have been observed.
Maybe best to allow for a four wheel drive instead, despite the cost.
The Denali highway (8) has very few other vehicles or trucks. Probably as many adventurous bike trekkers as vehicles!

The Dalton Highway (11) north from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay is a different story. Quite a few rigs going up and down to service the oil fields. Those guys you want to pull over for and give them space when they're coming at you to avoid getting peppered with road debris. It's not like an Interstate busy, but you will see several a day.

Anyway, if your rental agreement limits the types of roads, you don't want to flaunt that, at least too much.

Marc
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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 20:59   #6
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I would highly advise you to spend a couple days in Kluane Park in the Yukon. This is on the way to Haines, which you are traveling too. The hiking is fantastic and there is a large population of Dall Sheep that you can get fairly close to for viewing and photography. There are some awesome rams there as well as lots of babies!
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 19:27   #7
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thanx b_reynolds_ak

we'll stay 3 nights Haines Junction
we are now looking for hiking trails informations
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