Alaska: A Three Month Teardrop Tour
When we decided to go to Alaska for our 45th anniversary, we began looking for a way to see as much of Alaska as possible. After researching canned tours and cruises, we decided that buying a “Lil Guy” teardrop trailer and camping was our best and most economical option. We had always been “tent campers” prior to purchasing our teardrop trailer at the RV show in March of 2012 from Missouri Teardrops. We chose to travel to Alaska on the Alaska Marine Ferry System, leaving from Fairhaven, WA on June 23rd 2012. It takes approximately five days to travel from Washington state to Whittier, AK. I had arranged to travel on the Alaska Marine Hwy by using the tour services offered by the Alaska ferry system. I worked with a great travel agent that arranged all of our tours and made great suggestions for activities at each of our stops.
The first week of our trip was spent on the Kenai Peninsula. In Seward, we set up our first camp at Stoney Creek RV park. I made all our camping reservations prior to leaving on our Alaskan adventure. While in Seward, we went to the Sealife Discovery Center and the next day we took a sightseeing tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park. We also took tours on Prince William Sound out of Valdez and a tour on the Tracy Arm near Juneau, AK. We highly recommend taking at least one of these whale watching tours if you are in Alaska. We saw Humpback, Gray, and Killer Whales, Stellar Sea Lions, Puffins, Sea Otters and Glaciers.
From Seward we drove to Homer. It was such a beautiful drive along the Cook Inlet, seeing sleeping volcanoes across the Inlet, amazing fields of purple lupines, and our first moose! We set our camp up at Driftwood Inn with a view of Kachemak Bay and Homer Spit. We were both excited as we were taking a bear viewing flight to Katmai National Park from Homer. Katmai is the location of Brooks Falls, where we took photos of grizzlies standing on the falls catching salmon. Because Mike is an amateur photographer, he was able to get some good pictures of the bears that were there that day. We had wondered about sleeping during the 18 to 19 hours of daylight. But our days were so full and our camper was so comfortable that we just pulled down the shades and had no trouble sleeping especially after a day with bears!
Next we drove into interior Alaska, camping and making stops at Wrangle-St Elias National Park Visitors Center near Glennallen and on to Anchorage for five days. We never had to worry about making friends with the other campers, wherever we went other campers and even natives were asking about our Teardrop and of course we were always happy to show them our great little trailer. While we were at Lake Louise near Glennallen, we set up our attachable 10 x 10 tent for the first time. I think the campers next to us were wishing for a movie camera so they could send it to YouTube! However, we got it taken down much quicker in the rain at 33 degrees the morning that we broke camp.
Next stop Anchorage. We camped at Golden Nugget RV Park. It was a nice campground and we enjoyed the beauty of Anchorage with all the beautiful flowers in Delaney Park in the middle of downtown. While there, we visited the Anchorage Market & Festival, took a trolley tour of Anchorage and visited the Native Cultural Heritage Center. Then we are off to Denali National Park, Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs, North Pole, and Tok. Remember our National Parks are some of the best places to camp and they offer senior discounts.
Our most interesting night camping was in Northway on our way into the Yukon Territory. Northway is a trading post run by Alaskan natives called “Naabia-Niign.” We didn’t know the meaning but are sure it means “place where huge mosquitoes carry off campers”.
We continued driving on the upper end of the Alcan Highway into Kluane National Park and camped at Kathleen Lake Lodge near Haines Junction. As with all the places we camped we met lots of interesting people. This included an interesting Frenchman who had hitchhiked from Montreal to camp in the Kluane National Park and we weren’t sure how much clothing he was going to take off and throw into the washing machine before heading to the shower. The lovely lady that worked in the laundromat helped us with our loonies and toonies for the washers and dryers.
We returned to the states at Haines, AK, where we took a fast ferry to Skagway and then took a train trip on the White & Yukon Route Railway. The trip started in Skagway, AK and ended in Carcross, YT. The rails loosely follow the Chilkoot gold trail into the Klondike. The trail was used by gold prospectors during the Alaska Gold Rush. It was a trail of unimaginable hardship with lots of great history and stories. Our trip ended with a scenic bus ride back to Skagway. We then returned to Haines, where we spent one afternoon watching an eagle’s nest and taking some really great bald eagle pictures.
There were a few trips to the lake to see grizzly bears, too. Oceanview RV park was probably our favorite campground. It sits next to the boat harbor on the Lynn Canal. It isn’t beautiful but the owners are really great folks and they want their campers to be happy and have a good time. Joyce and her camp hosts organize a crab dinner potluck for their campers on a weekly basis. You get fresh caught Dungeness crab, a whole crab for $6.00 and everyone brings a side dish. What a great way to meet other campers and locals and hear about their adventures in Alaska!
From Haines, we traveled by ferry to Juneau. In Juneau, we spent a day at Mendenhall Glacier and took a rainy trip to see the Sawyer Glaciers. We left Juneau by ferry on the last leg of our Alaskan trip through the inside passage. We stopped in Sitka where we enjoyed a hike in the Tongass Rainforest, seeing the historic Russian Orthodox church and taking a tour of the Russian Bishop’s House, where a guide explains a lot of the Alaska-Russian history. The last stop was in Ketichkan, where we spent time watching a black mother bear and her two cubs at Herring Bay, walking the famous Creek Street, and going to learn about Tlingit totem poles at Totem Bight Park. Our last ferry stop was in Prince Rupert, BC. There we left the Alaska Marine Hwy and traveled through British Columbia into the “outside” the Alaskan term for the lower 48.
We always tried to get photos of other teardrop trailers we saw in AK.
Our entire trip took three months with approximately six to seven weeks spent in Alaska. We spent two nights in a hotel which was planned as part of their Skagway train trip. We really enjoyed camping in the “Lil Guy” teardrop. It was comfortable sleeping and traveling. The 10 x 10 attachable tent was a real plus because we could sit outside the trailer and do minimal cooking without mosquitoes and rain. We traveled over 11,000 miles towing the trailer with a Toyota Tundra which cost us very little extra expense for gasoline. We are looking forward to trips to Colorado and Raleigh, NC this year and are very satisfied with our decision to purchase a “Lil Guy” teardrop trailer! We hope to meet you when you are out camping!