RVing Alaska
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Polar bear viewing tour offered from Fairbanks


RV travelers and others can take a walk on the wild side with Warbelow’s Air Ventures Inc. and view Alaska’s most treasured Arctic mammal, the polar bear. A new two-day tours takes guests on a scenic flight from Fairbanks to the Inupiat Eskimo village of Kaktovik, located 260 miles above the Arctic Circle.

Accessible only by air, Kaktovik is the only village located within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The scheduled departures of September 5, 12 and October 3 correspond with the annual subsistence whale hunt. Polar bears arrive to forage on the remains of the hunt and are so frequently seen, bear sightings are guaranteed or travelers receive a full refund.

Tours include transportation, meals, accommodation and guided viewing expeditions. Additional departures may be added for large groups upon request. For more information, visit www.warbelows.com.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to avoid a dangerous encounter with an Alaskan moose

Every year moose routinely cause traffic crashes and traffic fatalities along Alaska's roads and highways. In 2007 moose accounted for six traffic fatalities and dozens of injury-related traffic crashes throughout the interior of Alaska, resulting in millions of dollars in medical bills and property damage.

While moose are happy to pose for a picture or two it is important to give them lots of room, especially when calves are nearby. But they generally ignore people and human activities. They're more interested in food. Moose don't eat meat, but many Alaskan animals find moose to be tasty; they're a favorite of bears, wolves and humans. Each year, hunters bag 6,000-8,000 Alaskan moose -- that's 3.5 million pounds of lean meat, and a single moose can feed a family of four all winter long.

In winter, finding food is difficult, and moose flood the low areas, often taking refuge in cities-Anchorage's wintertime moose population can triple, to just under 1,000. There, the moose live off the locals' landscaping efforts, eating mountain ash and birch trees. This also means that moose will be more likely to wander into the local roads and highways.

THE ALASKA HIGHWAY SAFETY OFFICE offers the following tips to help avoid a deadly confrontation with moose:

•Never feed a moose
•Give moose at least 50 feet. If it doesn't yield as you approach, give it the trail.
•If a moose lays its ears back or its hackles (the hairs on its hump) rise, it's angry or afraid and may charge.
•Moose kick with their front as well as hind feet so do not confront them directly.
•Don't corner moose into fences or houses.
•If a moose charges, there are few options available to you but it has been suggested by many others to simply get behind a tree. A theory stands that you can run around the trunk faster than the gangly moose.
•Never get between a cow and her calf.

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Alaska’s national parks available in virtual reality

Now travelers can visit Alaska’s national parks without leaving home. Thanks to a series of video podcasts available on iTunes and local National Park Service Web sites, viewers can catch a glimpse of what three of Alaska’s most popular national parks have to offer. By searching for the parks in the iTunes podcast store, visitors can learn about dinosaurs and more modern residents of Denali National Park, gain an in-depth look at science and research at Kenai Fjords National Park and watch bears in Katmai National Park.

The video podcasts began airing on iTunes last fall, and the newest videos premiered in October 2008. Both the iTunes and nps.com podcasts are available free of charge. For more information on the National Park Service podcasts or to plan a non-virtual park visit, go to www.nps.gov/state/ak.

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DVD: RVing Alaska
(with Joe and Vicki Kieva)

Learn everything you need to know about traveling by RV to and from Alaska via the Alaska Highway and the Alaska ferry. Essential viewing for Alaska-bound RVers. Learn more or order.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Denali campsite reservations now being taken

December 1, 2008 -- Advance shuttle bus and campground reservations are now being accepted for the 2009 visitor season at Alaska's Denali National Park.

Approximately 65 percent of the shuttle bus seats and 100 percent of the campsites in the Riley Creek, Savage River, Teklanika River and Wonder Lake campgrounds can be reserved in advance. Riley Creek, Savage River and Teklanika River are open to tents and RVs, but there is no RV camping at Wonder Lake. Hookups are not available in any of the park's campgrounds.

Phone reservations can be made nationwide at (800) 622-7275, or at (907) 272-7275 for international callers. Online reservations can be made at www.reservedenali.com.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fewer RVers visited Alaska this year

About 1.7 million people visited Alaska over the just-completed tourist season, roughly the same as in the 2007 season. But fewer of them arrived in RVs, likely because of high gas prices. Trips on the Alaska Highway dropped to 60,000 this season compared to about 75,000 the year before.

Visits by foreign visitors were up about six to eight percent thanks to the weak value of the U.S. dollar relative to foreign currencies.

Cruise ships brought the largest number of tourists by far -- 1.03 million -- about the same as the year before.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alaska State Parks 2009 volunteer catalog now available

Looking for a volunteer position next summer in Alaska?

The Alaska Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation 2009 Volunteer Program Catalog is now available. Alaska State Parks is looking for next summer's volunteers and is taking applications for all 2009 summer and winter positions.

Approximately 60 campground host positions are available across the state, from the Fairbanks area to Ketchikan. Another 80 volunteers are needed in a variety of positions such as archaeological assistant, ranger assistant, trail crew, natural history interpreter, and park caretaker. The duties of some positions can be used for college credit. Volunteers receive training, uniforms, and a small stipend. Campground hosts also receive a free campsite for their RV or rustic housing. Most positions require a minimum commitment of four weeks. Applicants must be over 18 years old and a U.S. Citizen. The 2009 Volunteer Catalog describes the volunteer program, lists available positions and includes application forms. Request a free copy from the Volunteer Coordinator, Alaska State Parks, 550 West 7th Ave, Suite 1380, Anchorage, AK 99501-3561, (907) 269-8708, fax (907) 269-8907. The catalog is also available on the Internet at http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/vip.

PLANNING A TRIP TO ALASKA? Find the best selection of books and DVDs at RVbookstore.com.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dalton Highway trip is beautiful, but too rough a ride for many RVers


The Dalton Highway is the road to take if you simply want to drive as far north as possible in Alaska. Unfortunately for RVers, it's a bumpy, washboard, gravel highway that many may find too rough to travel comfortably. Still. . . for some RVers, it may be worth it -- but only in summer.

From its starting point at the Elliott Highway, it continues for more than 400 miles until nearly reaching the shores of the Arctic Ocean in Deadhorse after crossing the Arctic Circle. Deadhorse is the village that serves the North Slope oilfield, with several hotels, a store and gas station. The community is a superlative of sorts: it is as far north as you can go on Alaska's primary road system, and it is worth exploring, especially if your goal is to dip your toe in the Arctic Ocean.

THE DALTON HIGHWAY BEGINS
85 miles north of Fairbanks and is perhaps one of the roughest roads in Alaska. It was constructed in the mid-1970s to haul freight to and from construction camps and workers building the 800-mile long trans-Alaska oil pipeline that stretches from Prudhoe Bay in the north all the way to the ice-free port of Valdez in Prince William Sound. The road offers relatively little in the way of modern conveniences. The washboards are many, the grades can be steep (as much as 10 and 12 percent in some places) and the big rigs delivering to Prudhoe Bay along the "haul road," as it's called by the locals, can make for uncomfortable traveling companions.

Not all car and RV rental companies allow their vehicles on the Dalton, so check ahead of time and be prepared for this road trip. Carry two spare tires, a jack, tool kit, emergency flares, extra gasoline, oil, wiper fluid and a first aid kit. Bring drinking water and plenty of food. A CB radio is also not a bad idea (monitor channel 19). Travel services are almost nonexistent. The 244-mile stretch north of Coldfoot is the longest service-free stretch of highway in North America.

So, why go to all this bother? Consider the scenery, which includes views of the mighty Yukon River, Atigun Pass (at the crest of the Continental Divide), the caribou of the north slope tundra, 375-million year-old limestone-filled Sukakpak Mountain (elevation 4,459 feet at Mile 203.5) and any number of sweeping mountain vistas opening into the Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park or Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Another trip highlight is crossing the Arctic Circle just past mile 115.

Deadhorse is a company town and not much else. It's several miles from the Arctic Ocean. An oil company road leads north from town, but permits are required to travel on the road. A better way to go is to sign up for a guided tour of the oil fields and the Arctic Coast. They are available in Deadhorse from Tour Arctic at (907-659-2368).

In Deadhorse, a good place to stay is at the Arctic Caribou Inn and RV camp.

PLANNING A TRIP TO ALASKA? Find the best selection of books and DVDs at RVbookstore.com.