In Seward, we wanted to camp at the Seward waterfront campsites on Resurrection Bay. And we wanted one of the sites right on the waterfront preferably with utilities (water and electric), since it was supposed to be rainy and we expected to stay for a while. So that meant that we needed to get an early start and not dawdle around because they are first come, first served. By some unusual miracle, we were out of Portage Valley & RV campground by 8:00 am.
After leaving Tolsona Wilderness Campground the next morning, we continued to head towards Anchorage. We would have continued all the way to Anchorage, but it was July 4 and Costco was closed. So we went looking for a campground that was within about an hour’s drive from Anchorage.
We checked out several campgrounds along the way, but they either were full, had one or two undesirable sites left, or were not what we had hoped for. We did check out the Matanuska Glacier, however, and it was a beautiful sight to see.
We left Valdez slowly, staying in our campsite until checkout time. Then we inched slowly back through the beautiful scenery that leads in and out of Valdez. We stopped again at the waterfalls, checked out the Blueberry State Recreation area, stopped at more turnouts taking pictures and having a lunch break.
One thing we absolutely wanted to do was a glacier/wildlife boat trip. The Lu Lu Belle came recommended, and unlike the vast majority of boats that tour out of Valdez and the Kenai Peninsula, the Lu Lu Belle was relatively small. We seemed pretty full and only had about 40 people on board. Some of the boats (especially on the Kenai Peninsula) looked like they could accommodate hundreds, which is probably necessary when the cruise ships are in. We didn’t want those kinds of crowds.
The trip leaves at 11:00 (we arrived at 10:30) and is advertised as 7-10 hours long, depending on wildlife sightings, which is another difference as most of the other tours are focused on getting you back on time after your 3-7 hours at sea. We had a decent but not phenomenal day for wildlife (in my opinion) and still spent 9 1/2 hours dock-to-dock.
Our campsite in Valdez was on the water. Surrounded by mountains and glaciers, beautiful clear water, and boats traveling along the fjord of the Prince William Sound. What a spectacular sight! So much beauty to behold!
We were able to snag a campsite at the Bear Paw II adult only campground. The #1 rule is Quiet Time is All the time. It is a small campground with waterfront sites overlooking the Prince William Sound and right by the docks. It has full hook ups, and a beautiful clean laundry room and showers. It was a little more expensive than the other campgrounds but worth every penny with the million dollar view and the waterfront campsites. We were near enough to the city to walk to restaurants, museums, groceries, gift shops, and the small harbor.
Very nearby was a lovely municipal park where we walked our dog at least three times a day. The park was always busy with people picnicking, kids kayaking, fishing, and even swimming in the pond. It was delightful with a beautiful mountain in the background. And just beyond the park was the dock where the ferries came in and large fishing boats docked.
The most direct route to anywhere in the south-central portion of Alaska (Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, Valdez) from the Alaska Highway is via the Tok Cut-off. Constructed in the 1950s, we had heard many complaints from people after they drove it.
Whether our smaller motorhome just handled the road better, or I’m far less impatient when I need to go slower on the road, or the US portions of the Top of the World Highway and the Taylor highway set a low bar for decent roadway, we didn’t find the drive bad. There were a few stretches that we slowed down to 35-40 mph, but there were relatively few jarring potholes or especially bumpy stretches. If that is the worst road we have for the rest of our Alaska trip, then the rest of the Alaska roads will be good to great.
(An aside about Alaska roads: They have both names and numbers, which can be rather confusing. I assume that the names came first, and then at some point the state assigned route numbers. So, for example, Alaska route 1 starts in Tok with the Tok Cut-off, travels a stretch of the Richardson Highway, follows all of the Glenn Highway, becomes the Seward Highway in Anchorage and ends as the Stirling Highway in Homer.)
From Chicken we headed to Tok. The 82 mile drive took us a little over two hours. Our speeds averaged 40 miles per hour. But it was an improvement from the day before.
Our first priority in Tok was to get fuel, groceries, wine and beer. Then we visited the visitor center and after that we went in search of a campground. We narrowed it down to two potential spots, Sourdough campground and Tundra campground. We looked at the Sourdough campground first. It looked okay. It had 30 amp electric and water at the site and had some privacy and spacing between sites. They had availability for two nights. I was tired, it was a done deal. There was a lot of good smells for Coda and he was pretty happy there. They had an rv wash, so the first thing we did before we settled in our site was wash most of the mud off our rv. Then we settled in.
The highway is so named because, along much of its length, it skirts the crest of the hills, giving looks down on the valleys. It is also one of the most northerly highways in the world at those latitudes. – Wikapedia
I remember when my parents drove to Alaska in the early 90’s and they came home with wonderful tales to tell accompanied by pictures. I could hardly contain my excitement and kept hoping for my day to come. It finally has and we drove the “Top Of The World Highway” like my parents did so many years ago.
From Whitehorse, we left the Alaska Highway and headed north toward the Klondike. The Klondike Highway between Whitehorse and Dawson City was built in the 1950s, ending the era of the steamships. Today, it is a paved road in mostly decent condition.
After shopping in Whitehorse, we headed north past Carmacks to Tatchun Creek, a small, 12-site Yukon government campground. The Yukon campgrounds are not as well kept as the British Columbia Provincial Parks, but they are inexpensive ($12 Canadian) and include free firewood (you have to split it yourself though). This campground had a couple of sites on the creek suitable for tents or perhaps a small van. We chose a larger site that still had a bit of a water view.
For weight reasons, we did not pack an axe for splitting wood. We don’t do that many campfires, and we didn’t expect to spend a huge number of nights camping in Yukon campgrounds. However, the campground was empty, and we were able to scavenge enough split pieces from the empty campsites to build our first fire of the trip. We have been through several Yukon campgrounds that were full or nearly so, but here we only had a couple of other campers join us the night we were there.
From Teslin, it was off to the big city. Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory and home to about two-thirds of its population. With the Yukon having less than 40,000 people, Whitehorse’s population of around 25,000 is only large in a comparative sense.
We stayed a couple of miles from downtown at Hi Country RV Park. We called in the morning before we left Teslin and managed to get their last 30A electrical site, which was narrow but had a nice backyard. (Behind our RV was just woods for as far as you could see.) It had a cafe, which we did not check out, and a lovely gift shop, along with snacks, drinks and ice cream. It also had a decent laundry room, dump stations and even a reasonably priced rv wash area.