Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best time to go for the best weather?
That is definitely the question we hear the most, and the one for which there is no simple answer. Your best bet is to go every year, and see all the same places in different conditions, different light, different colors. The last few years we have had lots of rainy days, but people traveling through the same places a week or two before or after hit good weather. Try to have a flexible plan and be able to linger a day or two to wait for the best. Places like Valdez, Seward, and Homer are incredible, but one would never know when clouds are cutting the peaks off at the knees. Mt. McKinley makes its own weather, so your chances of actually seeing the mountain from nearby (i.e. within 70 miles), is about 20%. Seasonally, we like to leave in late May because there is still lots of snow on the mountains. The Haines Highway is especially beautiful early, with an effect that looks like someone dripped chocolate on ice cream. Later, after the snow is long gone, the mountains are painted with a brush dipped in yellow-green paint as the mosses bloom. Go to Haines both early and late if you can. Several years ago there was so much smoke in the Anchorage bowl for three weeks that no one would have known that there were mountain peaks almost surrounding the city. The fire was over 300 miles away in the interior. Similar smoke conditions greeted us in Dawson City in 1999 and throughout Alaska in 2001. Smoke is an important but often overlooked component of the weather. Try to avoid it! In 2003 it seemed to rain a lot in both Anchorage and fairbanks. Also see my comment at the end of the 2003 NOTES section.
Heading south from Paxson will bring you back to Glennallen. This stretch was once the worst in the state for frost heaves and dips. It has been completely redone, but it's still a good idea to drive this stretch at a prudent speed due to recurring frost heaves. If you don't care to drive the Denali Highway, or decide it's not in very good shape, consider visiting the Isabel Pass area as a side trip from Glennallen or Delta, and at least drive the paved east 20 miles of the Denali Highway, to Tangle Lakes. Better yet, brave sixteen extra miles of gravel to see the incredible view from Maclaren Summit (second highest in Alaska). Of course, there are many variations on the above itinerary. We're simply passing along the one that we have decided, after twelve years, suits us best. Your own choices may be influenced by fishing plans, visits with relatives, tour reservations, desires of people you're traveling with, and other considerations. Always try to follow the best weather, and avoid the smoke. Do not get locked into a travel plan that is so rigid that you miss the best scenery because you just have to be someplace else the next day or week. On these pages our RV park/campground sponsors are indicated with BOLD CAPITALS. If the letters are BLUE, there is a link to another site or E-mail for additional information. Mile markers in RED indicate a private campground at that location. GREEN means a public (state, federal, or municipal) campground. BLACK is used for junctions and other points of interest. Occasionally you will find a special note in yellow. Please use the services of our advertisers; their support makes this site, our maps and guide, and our annual trip possible. Because many hosts keep track of where visitors heard about their business to better allocate thieir advertising dollars, please let them know if you heard about their business here.
We don't fish much. No time. I like to fish for kings at Ship Creek in Anchorage because its relatively uncrowded, convenient, and always something on the line. On the south side of the city there are a couple of small lakes stocked with trout that we take our grandchildren to. Think of being seven and landing a ten inch trout for your first fish! There are many other stocked lakes in the state, and of course the famous Kenai salmon fishery and Homer halibut charters. We have gone so far as to put symbols on our maps to show where access to water is available. That's about as much as we care to say about it. There are lots of other sources. The fish below, left, was taken from the mouth of Ship Creek and weighed about 20 pounds. Most people wouldn't keep a king this small because you only get to keep one a day. But this one was fresh (silver, not turning red) and made good eating. Emma's first fish came from Jewell Lake, south Anchorage. A fishing license is still the best bargain in Alaska. Photo tip: Hold fish as close to camera as possible.