Summer Trip '03

Index Packing Travelogue Mechanical details People Tips

Northern travel tips, etc.

Get The Milepost.

This book is worth carrying, period. Buy it almost anywhere in the north or order it online from It's like a phone book 7/8" thick and costs $25.

Camping spots.

Throughout the North Country (AK, Yukon, and NWT), free roadside/wilderness camping is available nearly everywhere. Don't be afraid to do this, just learn the basic bear precautions and go for it. All gravel roads will have plenty of gravel yards used by the highway department; these would make excellent spots.

Dempster Highway: There are lots of good places along the road to pitch a tent, especially in the southern half. The campgrounds are nearly all in the northern section, and are likely to be mosquito-infested (specifically Rock River is) since they are located by rivers. In the northern part, I'd camp by the Arctic Circle or NWT border signs, on the gravel, or in one of the many highway maintenance gravel yards. Just find somewhere that's open with a bit of a breeze.

McCarthy/Kennicott: Camp on the river (free) just east of Chitina. After that, it's wooded and buggy until McCarthy, where you could camp on the river for $15. In the national park, you can camp for free and there is a GREAT spot about halfway up the trail to the Bonanza Mine, just above the treeline.

Dalton Highway: Just south of the Yukon River there's a clearing on the west side of the road that should be OK, and after that there are plenty of gravel yards. Just south of where the pavement starts (between Yukon Crossing and the Arctic Circle) there's one high on a hill to the west that would have a FANTASTIC morning view. Once you get within 80 miles of Deadhorse it will be buggy everywhere, but the area around Attigun Pass should be good. The southern part of the highway runs along a river, with numerous opportunities to pull off. If a side road is posted or gated by Alyeska, DON'T camp there. There are an incredible number of Alyeska security patrols everywhere on the Dalton. Contrary to the Milepost, you CAN camp in Deadhorse (find a corner of a parking lot somewhere).

Campbell Highway: definitely stay at Taro, if possible. $2 tent sites, free showers. There are probably decent spots to the east, but the road is usually pretty low and probably buggy. To the west, you should have no problem finding a good spot.

Camping at Radium Hot Springs (and maybe everywhere else in Banff) is $22!!! (I stayed in the parking lot of the Husky station for free). Provincial parks throughout Canada are $8 to $12, and firewood is usually provided free.

Mike Dwyer reports a free municipal campground at Burns Lake.


I used Metzeler Tourances and they were great. The front, on a loaded R100GS, lasted from San Francisco all the way through Alaska and back to the US, well over 10,000 miles. The rear doesn't last as long, but one tire change in Alaska will be all you need if you are using hard tires and keeping speeds down to 65 or so. Unless you are there in terrible weather and need to ride through it on the worst roads there are, you don't need knobbies. They will have half the life of the Tourances, at best, which means that planning becomes vital.


Make everything dustproof. After every unpaved road you will need to wash the bike, and make sure to wash the dust out of the packing straps. Leave some extra space in every bag so you can close it in a hurry without packing everything perfectly (like if it's raining, or if you need to escape the mosquitos). Find a way to carry heavy items forward, maybe using tank panniers.  See the packing page for specifics.

Gas prices

Prices in Canada ranged between $0.68 and $1 per liter; lowest in major BC cities like Hope and Prince George, and highest in the remote ares like Inuvik. There generally isn't any price difference within a particular city.

In Alaska, gas in Anchorage and Fairbanks was about 10 cents more than fuel in the OR/WA area. Other places were higher: Tok: +10, Valdez: +30, Eagle: +25, Coldfoot: +60. DO NOT plan to fuel up at Boundary before heading into Canada (or getting into Alaska there with an empty tank) - the guy there wants $3/gallon (+1.35) which is far higher than similar areas, including Canada.

On the subject, keep in mind that there are three major distances between gas stations in the north: 260 miles on the Dalton from Coldfoot to Deadhorse, 230 from the bottom of the Dempster up to Eagle Plain, and 220 on the Campbell from Ross River to Watson Lake. There are numerous places that are 100 miles or so, so you NEED to know where fuel is. Get the Milepost.


Your faceshield will get dirty constantly, especially on gravel. Keep a cotton cloth and spray convenient so you can clean without getting off the bike. I use Pledge to mask the fine scratches; it works very well but must be reapplied every time you clean.

Basics (not Alaska-specific)

Pack as light as possible. Use one non-scented liquid soap for hair, body and dishes; about 8 ounces per month is probably more than enough (and you can find more on the road). Use travel-size toothpaste, etc. Every little bit counts.

Wash your bike after every long gravel road, when it's muddy. The mud will probably have corrosive salt in it, and it becomes hard to remove with time.  Also, you will spread dust among your things and on your clothing every time you touch the bike or brush against it...  just wash it when needed. A dollar or two gets you a few minutes of pressure wash, which is all it takes.

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