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Motels booked in advance - necessary?? ANC-Fairbanks

Motels booked in advance - necessary?? ANC-Fairbanks

Old Jun 1, 11, 2:04 pm
  #1  
Zip
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Motels booked in advance - necessary?? ANC-Fairbanks

We will be driving Anchorage/Fairbanks via rts 3 and 2 (circle route) during the first week of July. Ideally we would just like to drive, and stop at wherever we happen to be, then book our room for 1-2 nights at that time. Is this doable, or asking for trouble this time of year??
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Old Jun 4, 11, 3:38 am
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Originally Posted by Zip View Post
We will be driving Anchorage/Fairbanks via rts 3 and 2 (circle route) during the first week of July. Ideally we would just like to drive, and stop at wherever we happen to be, then book our room for 1-2 nights at that time. Is this doable, or asking for trouble this time of year??
While the first week of July has relatively less traffic than the weeks surrounding Solstice and the latter half of July, it's still summer tourist season in Alaska, and it can be very difficult to find available rooms at the last minute.

Unfortunately, with the extremely peaked tourist season we have here, the typical go-without-a-plan travel style [that I am personally a fan of] is not safe. At least bring a tent as a back-up.

Also, I think you may not have a sense of the scale of Alaska. "Stop wherever we happen to be" is not like it is in the Lower 48. "Where we happen to be" may be 100 (or more!) miles from the nearest outpost of civilization, and that nearest outpost of civilization may just be a gas station and quickie mart, with the nearest lodging another 100 miles beyond that. Unless you're in an RV, you can't just stop wherever you want.

Here's a rough guide to distances between lodging options between Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse) and Homer:

Prudhoe Bay (2 hotels)
-- 241 miles --
Coldfoot (1 motel)
-- 254 miles --
Fairbanks (several dozen loding options)
-- 113 miles --
Healy (2 motels)
-- 10 miles --
Denali Park (Glitter Gulch; several high-priced options)
-- 10 miles --
McKinley Village area (2 options)
-- 20 miles --
Cantwell (a couple of options)
-- 78 miles --
Denali Princess (one option)
-- 90 miles --
Wasilla (a couple of options)
-- 45 miles --
Anchorage
-- 45 miles --
Girdwood (Alyeska Prince Resort and a few B&Bs)
-- 45 miles --
Summit Lake Lodge (one option)
-- 20 miles --
Cooper Landing (Kenai Princess, one option)
-- 45 miles --
Soldotna/Kenai (a few options)
-- 75 miles --
Homer, AK (a few options)

You can see that the distances between the options are a bit larger than in the Lower 48, and when you do get somewhere, there's often only one or two options. You could find yourself driving 200 miles before you find a place with an open room.

Not to scare you, but I just wanted to make sure you had a sense of the size of this place and the sparseness of the population.

Also, I'd highly recommend obtaining a copy of The Milepost to help you plan your road trip and see exactly what is along each road.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 3:38 pm
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jackak, thanks much for your thoughts, and especially guiding us toward "Milepost." Nice! We are restricting our driving to between Anchorage and Fairbanks, so we won't worry about distances. First week of trip will be Anchorage to Denali Park to Fairbanks; we have these nights reserved in different areas. We'll then be heading from Fairbanks to Anchorage via Tok; this part of the trip, we have not yet booked.

Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Not to scare you, but I just wanted to make sure you had a sense of the size of this place and the sparseness of the population.

Also, I'd highly recommend obtaining a copy of The Milepost to help you plan your road trip and see exactly what is along each road.
About the sparseness and great distances, we have twice taken 4WD trips on our own through Australia (north of Perth, and across the northern coast to the west end), and know (hopefully) what we have to do in case we can't find a room (our preference, since we're getting 'older' -- sigh). We hope to find someplace on our own, non-camping, in the Tok region, but will be able to drive further if necessary. Or "camp out" if really, really necessary.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 4:03 pm
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The Tok side of Alaska is even more sparse than the Denali side. That's where you'll really need to be aware of distances!

That said, my 2008 road trip from Cairns to Adelaide via Alice Springs made Alaska look civilized...

There isn't much between Fairbanks and Delta Junction and then between Delta and Tok, so just know that.

If necessary, there's a decent campground a couple of miles east of Tok on the bank of the river.
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Old Jul 16, 11, 1:35 pm
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Just got back from our trip. Wonderful!! We booked 7 nights in advance (3 in Anchorage, 2 Denali, 2 Fairbanks), then were on our own for 4 nights.

Returning from Fairbanks, did skip Tok (because of the added time to do so) and took the shorter way S toward Glennallen. Had no trouble finding 4 nice motel rooms near and around Glennallen and Valdez At each place, I asked what people do if they were full. Was informed this is a slow tourist year, so that hasn’t yet been a problem. But as in previous years, each place has a fairly long list of B&Bs within 100 miles (!!) of their location.

I must say that Wrangell-St. Elias was a really great stop. And Valdez is one of the most beautiful locations in the world.

jackal, did you ever writ up a trip report on your road trip from Cairns to Adelaide via Alice Springs?
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Old Jul 18, 11, 9:20 am
  #6  
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Mrs. Zip wanted me to add the following (since it was her idea).
We had a map and information on “Alaska Public Lands Campgrounds,” and were prepared to camp out (which we really wanted to avoid) if necessary. This great map was purchased at the Public Lands museum opposite the “log cabin info center” in Anchorage. Added benefit is that it indicated campgrounds that have public restrooms! Came in very handy!
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