I am starting to plan a July trip from GA to Fairbanks, AK most likely in July 2017. I am interested in any information anyone may have about routes, road condition, gas, food, and lodging between Banff, AB, CA to Fairbanks.
First of all - there are no promises concerning weather except that you will get to experience some. Best to bring rain gear and hope that you can leave it packed for most of the ride.
Secondly - by the time you turn around and head back south you will probably have come to the conclusion that it's not a difficult trip at all. Many riders find that the hardest thing is to keep your attention on the road and not on the scenery you'll be passing through.
Regarding routing: From Banff/Lake Louise at the south end, the only
way to go is up the Icefields Parkway. In Dynobob's trip report he has some outstanding photos of what it looks like from different vantage points, but there is absolutely no way a camera can capture what the eye can behold on that stretch of highway. Despite having traveled that in all seasons many times since my first drive up in '73 it is still the preferred route whenever I'm headed to or from the Midwest or Eastern part of the U.S.
Once you get to Jasper at the north end the short route to Dawson Creek is east to Hinton then north on the Big Horn Hwy (AB40) to Grande Prairie. Then west and north to Dawson Creek. All good highway with a fair amount of traffic - and animals to watch out for. If you opt to take the long way around, it's the Yellowhead Hwy (16) west to Prince George then the Hart Hwy (97) up to Dawson Creek. Again, good highway all the way with some pretty good scenery over to P.G. and again up and over Pine Summit from there to D. C. There's plenty of restaurants and good lodging choices all the way. Depending on your rate of travel, they may be just the right distance to get you from one night to the next, or just from one meal to the next. Plenty of gas stations, but try not to travel too far on the bottom half of your tank. That said, in over fifty years of traveling north of Prince George I've only run out of gas one time... and that was due to darn foolishness on my part.
North out of Dawson Creek you'll probably be surprised at how heavy the traffic is. In July you'll be seeing plenty of other tourists as well as farm and industrial traffic through Fort St John and a little beyond Fort Nelson. But beyond that latter town you start getting into the Alcan that still has a little of the old flavor in that you'll be in more wilderness. Nothing like it was back in the early 60's, but you will definitely know you're not in big city suburbs any more. First will be Steamboat, now tamed and paved so you would never dream how scary it was for drivers who had never driven in mountains before. Later on, Summit Lake at the highest point. Watch for sheep along the side of the highway as you start down the north side. In fact, you'll want to keep an eye (or both eyes) on constant watch for animals... some small but still a hazard to a motorcycle, some big enough to be a problem for a Kenworth tractor with bull bars on the front end.
A few hours before you get to Watson Lake is Liard (LEE ard) Hot Springs, a good place to take a hot soak and loosen up tense muscles. I've soaked up enough heat in the springs there to just stroll slowly back out to the parking lot with a 5įF wind blowing and snow coming down horizontally, then change into dry clothing while standing next to my car. A very worthwhile stop any time, any season.
You will undoubtedly encounter some loose gravel somewhere along the way, as summertime is "road-fixing" time. While the Wing is not known to be designed for such conditions, most riders would be amazed at how well they can handle them... IF the rider does his/her part. Back in the "old days" there were many more lodges, roadhouses, gas stops, etc. than there are today. When it was all gravel travel was generally much slower and flat tires and mechanical problems were much more prevalent.
Nowadays riding the Alcan isn't much different from riding across the continent on secondary highways. With dozens of trips back and forth behind me I generally ride all night long without any more concern than doing the same on interstates down south and average 2 1/2 days from Alaska to the South 48 border. It's just not that much of a rough trip any more.
As roadrunner 1800 recommended, look through Dynobob's thread. He has provided a lot of information gained from his trip this past summer, along with great photos showing conditions all along the route. Again, we can't guarantee the beautiful weather he experienced on his trip.