Trip to Alaska in Motorhome 20 Days Itinerary : Days : 6-10

26th Apr 2016
Photo of Trip to Alaska in Motorhome 20 Days Itinerary : Days : 6-10 by deepanshu garg

Day 6 - Relax on the road. Chena Hot Spring

Today we woke up a little later, and we took everything very calmly. We had breakfast, emptied the caravan's tanks. We take the route from the town of Nenana to the city of Fairbanks. We take advantage of the fact that at the entrance to the cities there are always shopping centers and gas stations to fill the deposit. We also entered a large supermarket to buy more provisions. But when we go to the center, our GPS takes us to the anecdote of the day.

Suddenly we found a military checkpoint and soldiers stopped the vehicle. We do not understand what happens! They tell us that we cannot go there without special permission. We explain that we only want to visit the city, but makes us turn around, without much explanation.

We do not give up, and we search several streets further to try to get there where the map tells us. But again another control! This soldier is kinder, and he tells us that there is no going to Fairbanks. This is a military base, and that we cannot pass. We appreciate the information, and we turn around until we find some signs that guide us to the center.

Like most cities in Alaska, Fairbanks is not very pretty. There are many wide streets and low buildings, without any charm. Where we find more life is always the Downtown. There we had a meal and snack at a cafe. We try to visit an ice museum recommended by the guide, but when we enter we are told that the cooling system has broken down the day before. It is better not to see the sculptures because they are falling apart!

We see this as a sign to continue our route. We head for the thermal town of Chena Hot Springs, where basically we only find a thermal water center. We take Highway 2 to the Chena Hot Spring Road detour. The road is very beautiful. As we approach our destination, the afternoon offers us wonderful colors. The green, brown and yellow trees accompany us during the 56 miles that the journey lasts. There are several campsites on the banks of the Chena River, where we can sail and enjoy fishing.

We stop at a small point to pause on the road at Red Squirrel State. It is a small lake surrounded by trees and with several tables to sit and picnic. When we arrive at Chena Hot Spring it is already 7 o'clock in the afternoon. We parked our caravan inside the forest, where we are completely alone.

We take a tour of the facilities. It is a spa with thermal waters, where we can bathe in warm waters until late (from 10am to midnight). We discovered that it is full of Japanese people and they even have many Japanese employees to serve the clientele well. We get a washing machine to keep everything clean.

We dined in his restaurant the first hamburger of the trip. Then we decided to have a hot bath. It has already become obscure, but we do not want to miss the opportunity. The facilities disappoint us a bit, as they are quite old. The hot bath outside under the stars is great. It leaves us like new!

And the best is yet to come. We return to the caravan, which we have left a little hidden among the trees. At night the place impresses much more! It was lonely and dark. We dare to leave despite the cold. It was awesome again! A new northern light begins to form. It is authentic as it is molded. We return at two thirty in the morning, and finally, we go to sleep, but again we close our eyes with incredible memories of the day.

Day 7 - North Pole

We begin to notice fatigue. During the day we do not stop, and we do not sleep much! After the visual spectacle of yesterday, and having slept less than 7 hours, we got up and started walking towards Fairbanks again. We begin to descend towards the south. On the way, we stopped in the bizarre town of North Pole (someone had the brilliant idea of baptizing a town with the name of North Pole).

And guess what is the great tourist attraction of the place. Well, here it represents that Santa Claus has his office and receives the letters of all the children of the world. We do not know how many of these offices he must have scattered around the planet. There is a superstore where we can find all kinds of items related to Christmas.

It seems that the magnificent landscapes do not leave us. After Denali National Park, we headed to Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Reserve. The road continues surrounded by mountains and trees of powerful colors.

We make more than one stop on the way to rest a bit and take pictures, and check what we read in more than one guide. Along the rivers and lakes, is full of small flies. And that in September they say there are not so many, but in summer it's much worse!

The day is still clear (we did not believe it) and we have been able to see with total clarity the 3 most important peaks of the Alaska Range: Mt. Deborah (3,761 meters), Hess Mountain(3,639 meters) and Mt. Hayes (4,216 meters) ). We are also impressed by the pipeline that carries the oil that is extracted from the north of Alaska and reaches Valdez, next to the sea. From there it is distributed in the rest of the country by boat.

We return to put gasoline and clean the crystals in the town of Delta Junction, where we are about to stay for the night. But since it's only 6:30 pm, we decided to continue a little longer and finally, we stopped at the Donnelly Creek State Recreation Site.

They are camping areas, where we only find a plot of land delimited by plots. They do not have electricity or showers or any type of service. The purpose is just a place to spend the night. The good thing is that they are in the middle of nature, and they are very cheap.

We had a good time trying to light the fire to make dinner. But we have to tell the truth, we are not able to keep the flame! Finally, we have to cook inside the caravan. Today we expected a very good night for the formation of auroras, but finally, the sky has been blocked. And to be honest, in the forest, at night, we hear a lot of noise that we do not know very well where they come from.

Day 8 - First week of travel

At 4 o'clock in the morning, we started to hear the rain falling on our caravan. At any other time, being in the middle of the forest, completely alone, absolutely in the dark, could seem like a horror story. But just the opposite! We were so happy. We took breakfast very calmly. It is a sacred time for us!

We start under a gray sky, although it does not rain. However, the temperature remains as in the last days: cool during the day and very cold at night. We take the Richardson Hwy to the south, crossing the Alaska Range Mountains. Pipeline accompanies us almost all the time, and we have skimmed the Summit Lake, before reaching the town of Paxson, and the Paxson Lake just after.

The sun peeks out and accompanies us for a while until we reach Glennallen. We found the nerve center of the town, which would become a gas station, a gift shop and the visitor center. Here we took the opportunity to collect information about the excursion we want to do tomorrow at the Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Reserve.

We have also found two trucks: one that serves as a stall to sell fruit and vegetables and another that sells Thai food to take away. We take the opportunity to spend a little on both. We bought apples and peaches, and Thai Food We stopped a few meters ahead, with magnificent views, and took the opportunity to eat.

Roads like the Edgerton Hwy seem to never run out! We continue along the same road, where we stop for a coffee in the only cafe in town, or at least, the only one that is open. We connect to the internet, check the mail. When we finish, we go to Kenney Lake, where there is a campsite to spend the night, with the same name of the town. It's nothing special but it will be good to settle today.

Even Alaska clouds have something special with the Sanford Mountain at the end. We have a small moment of crisis because we want to book the trip for tomorrow to McCarthy and Kennicott. But when we ask the girls who run the campsite, they tell us that they think there are no longer any buses that go to this area of the Wrangell - St. Elias Park. They tell us that they have a phone from where we can call the bus company and we do that.

For a day, we cannot fulfill our plans! Next, we try to call the company that organizes the trekking excursions on the Root Glacier, which is the important part of the excursion. We talk again with the girls and, luckily, they offer to call people. They explain that they no longer make this trip and they confirm that there are no buses and that McCarthy is already closed for being out of season. It is what has to travel in mid-September for these lands!

So, change plans. Tomorrow we will try to get to Valdez, one of the most important towns by the sea, and we will enjoy the tranquility we have when we know there is no hurry.

Day 9 - En route to Valdez

Photo of Alaska, USA by deepanshu garg

Today we have learned something new. In the morning it can become impossible to fill the water tank of the caravan. We have come across the frozen camping water pipe. We leave to Valdez, towards the south of Alaska, next to the sea. Today we can say that time has completely changed. The rain has accompanied us during the day. We already thought it was amazing that during the first week we had the sun that we now do so much less!

But we also have to say that the visual spectacle is worth it, with the air that the fog and the rain give. We stopped to eat at the foot of the Worthington Glacier and we faced the final straight towards Valdez. Before arriving, we stopped at a couple of waterfalls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horsetail Falls.

We cross by the Tsaina River and we stopped at the Horsetail waterfall like any tourist. In Valdez, we located the campsite. After having a snack in the caravan (there has been no way to find any decent cafeteria open throughout the town), we headed to the Dayville Road area. We had read in some forum that at the mouth of the river, in Solomon Gulch, you can see bears fishing and white-headed eagles. Let's see, right?

It is no longer a strong season, but we can still see salmon in the rivers and a white-headed eagle. We did not believe it but we went because we had nothing better to do. Our surprise has been to see a sign at the beginning of the road that alerted the presence of bears and warned not to leave the car. We have been driving along the road very slowly, watching both sides, but as the minutes went by and we did not find any sign of any bear, we were disappointed.

We have seen a pair of white-headed eagles, yes, but we were too far away to see it clearly. We have been stuck with the birds and thinking about going back to the campsite when suddenly, we have seen a huge black bear fishing in the middle of the river! We have spent more than an hour observing and admiring this beautiful animal as it ate salmon and scared the seagulls who wanted to steal his dinner. What a show!

And besides, we were the only spectators present! There are a lot of regulations explaining that you cannot get closer than 90 meters from a bear, but we did not dare to move the caravan, and it was getting closer. We've had it about 25 meters! When it gets dark, we go back to the campsite for dinner and go to bed with the background noise of the rain, which today has been with us all day.

Day 10 - Valdez

Photo of Trip to Alaska in Motorhome 20 Days Itinerary : Days : 6-10 by deepanshu garg

Another day that we suffer the consequences of traveling in the low season. We got up in the town of Valdez and decided to have breakfast outside the caravan. We chose the bakery. Only by the name, it sounds good. We want a good cake. And for being the only authentic cafe in town (the rest are restaurants or bars) they do not do anything wrong. We have a very good cinnamon roll and coffee with half a liter of milk.

As we said, we suffer the small inconvenience of traveling out of season. It rains during the whole morning, and we did not finish deciding if to do the route in cruise visiting the Columbia Glacier or not. Since the day is very covered, the excursion is a little expensive. Finally, we think that since we are here we must do it. Well when we enter the offices to reserve it, they tell us that due to the bad weather and that they are about to finish the season, they have decided to close the cruise service.

We are already seeing that many sites do not even meet the schedules that we had consulted online before coming. We assume that since there are no tourists, they close early. We will have to return to the mountain, where they do not have schedules.

Change of plans. We undo part of the road yesterday and left Valdez. Before, we drive again on Dayville Road, the road that runs along the coast (where yesterday we saw a bear). But apart from many seagulls and some sea lion, we do not see anything else.

It rains all morning, and until late afternoon does not stop. We take it with philosophy. It is better to be positive, and during our trips, that is enough for both of us. The meter is already over 1,000 miles! (about 1,500 km). We stop the caravan and eat before the breathtaking views of Lake Atna. What more can we ask? We can not do this at home. 80% of the meals are cooked and eaten inside the caravan. No sandwiches or anything. We eat hot every day. We have meat, pasta, soups with creams. While eating in front of Lake Atna we feel who needs a TV.

A family of ducks crosses the road. We have risked a bit with gasoline (well, in fact, it has been my thing). We have hurried a bit and here we do not find gas stations in each town. It is better to be proactive and not rush. Finally, we stopped at a little girl we saw when we were already lying on the road. And the same thing happened to us when choosing the place to stop for the night.

We had planned a campsite in the village of Glennallen, but we found it closed (yes, again the issue of traveling out of season). We did not suffer much because we can stop the caravan in any corner and sleep, but we like to do it to marked camping areas.

And when we say campsites, do not imagine the typical coast or mountain of our country. They are quite simple. The most complete offer current and water in the square where you park, and a small building with showers and toilets. The simplest, usually belong to the National Parks of the State and are simple plots. Nothing else. In fact, there is no one to oversee them. You place yourself in the place you like and deposit $ 10 in a metal mailbox.

We are lucky to see another Bald Eagle. Well, it was getting dark and we do not know where to stop to sleep. Looking at the guide, we read that by Lake Louise we would find the Lake Louise Recreation Area. It is a free camping position. It took us a long time to get there because the road was not very good. But despite being very lost, we were surprised to see many cars when we arrived (well, they were all SUVs, most of them with trailers).

Suddenly, we found a couple of cars standing before us, and immediately we understood that there was an animal in sight. Of course! A group of deer has been planted on the road before our eyes. What an illusion. We are going to take pictures!

We prepare the camera and we are ready to get out of the car, just as the drivers in front of us do and another who has stopped behind. But the surprise has been when instead of cameras, they have opened the doors and have all left with rifles larger than our caravan. My God, they are all hunters. Now we understand everything! Pick-ups are for loading the hunted animals. Luckily, once we reached the camping area, a sign prohibited entry with firearms. We already saw ourselves sleeping surrounded by 20 uncles armed to the teeth.