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North America Topics specific to Canada and USA/Alaska only.
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  #1  
Old 10 Apr 2008
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Weather in Alaska

Hi
My wife and I plan to ride north to Alaska, leaving New York around 1 August. We plan to take it easy and should get to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, by the end of August, spent a week or two in Alaska, before we will return back South by Mid-September.
I know nothing about arctic weather paterns, and are hoping that it will not be too late to enjoy Alaska and Northern Canada.
We will be camping almost all the way, if the weather permits. Camping in the rain is not what I call fun.

What are the chances of seeing the Northern lights that time of the year?

Should I invest in heavy duty riding and rain gear, or is it not as bad as I think it might be? How cold does it realy get there at that time? We've been living in the Desert (Dubai) for three years now and when the temprature gets down to 16 deg C in winter, my wife is 'freezing'! I might have to dress her up like the Michillen-man.

Any advise would be welcome.

Johan
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Old 10 Apr 2008
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Been camping in Canada during September and had frost every morning on the tent with weather in the 20's. Figured it might be worse further north so I checked Frommers:

Quote:
Sometime between late August and mid-September, weather patterns change, bringing clouds, frequent rainstorms, and cooling weather, and signaling the trees and tundra to turn bright, vivid colors. For a week or two (what week it is depends on your latitude), the bright yellow birches of the boreal forest and the rich red of the heathery tundra make September the loveliest time of year. But the rain and the nip in the air, similar to late October or November in New England, mean you'll likely have to bundle up; and September is among the wettest months of the year. Most tourist-oriented businesses stay open, with lower prices, till September 15, except in the Arctic. After September 15, it's potluck. Some areas close up tight, but the silver salmon fishing is still active on the Kenai Peninsula, and the season there continues until the end of the month. A lucky visitor can come in September and hit a month of crisp, sunny, perfect weather, and have the state relatively to him- or herself. Or, it can be cold and rainy all month
They have more info. Check here, decent source for traveling tips.
Alaska : Planning a Trip : When to Go | Frommers.com
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Old 10 Apr 2008
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Alaska's a big place, with different weather patterns in different zones. I've been a couple of times and seen snow in August on the North Slope (not much, but enough to cramp your style on a bike) and 90+ (F)/35+ (C) temps in Fairbanks shortly thereafter. The end of August is getting into autumn in the north and the bigger mountains.....and autumn is brief, just a week or two. Mid-september is getting pretty late for someone who doesn't like cold weather or camping in the rain.

On the plus side of the ledger, places that were crowded and roads that were packed with RV's just a few weeks earlier are relaxed and relatively empty. Bugs are not much of a problem that time of year until you get way south. It's a very pretty time of year, with colors changing rapidly on the tundra and wherever there are deciduous trees. There's still lots of light, but it also gets dark at night, so there's a good chance you'll see the aurora if you look for it. When it's not raining, that is.

The road back to the lower 48 passes through various ranges, and these, too, can be problematic in September and later. I've usually tried to stop in the Canadian Rockies on my return, and I've always hit at least some snow there.

IMHO, quality riding gear will be essential, since you'll likely be out in rain and cold. You need something that will keep you dry and warm all day; remember that in some areas there won't be a lot of places to pull over for a quick cup of coffee or to dry out. I'd budget for some motels from time to time, and remember that these can be expensive in some areas. There are also hostels in Alaska (a few) and Canada (relatively more).

I try to time my Alaska trips to arrive in early August and leave in the beginning of September, more or less, for all the positive and negative reasons above.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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Old 10 Apr 2008
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The summer "dry season" is definitely early: June thru 15 July. After that rain increases.
September is very nice if the weather is dry; if rainy, it can be miserable. And if so, count on snow from the Brooks Range north.
My favorite time to be around the Arctic Circle is early (June 20-July 15): 24 hr daylight, the possibility of glorious scorching heat (up to 90 F., a marvel in Alaska). The bugs are a minor annoyance, sunburn is a pleasure.

Charlie
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Old 11 Apr 2008
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On one of my maps is a note that says that the road to the north coast is closed for tourist traffic starting around first week of September because weather conditions up there get pretty wintry fast.
Somehow I think you should see about moving the Alaska trip to a much earlier date like July, --done that for the Anchorage-Fairbanks loop from the Yukon and it was ideal weather.
, sometimes rain but never had frost during that trip there
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Old 12 Apr 2008
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No two years are alike. You just have to take your chance and get back by September. Most of the riders I know completed the journey in June.

Here is an information site, you can contact them directly to get some direction as well.

The MILEPOST: Highways of The North

All the best.








I am west of New York City and I know someone in NYC that may provide lodging if you need it on your arrival. I have to be at my home in late July to host a rider heading home.
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Old 12 Apr 2008
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Electric underware

Just a thought...get your wife outfitted with electric riding gear of some sort. I like the simple low draw widder brand. That way you can ride without and she can stay toasty warm. Like has been said there sometimes aren't a lot of cozy stops to warm up and dry your stuff. Get raingear that you can stand in the shower in and not get wet. It is beautifull country and well worth the trip.
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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Thanks guys for the info.

I would have like to come earlier, but it would not be possible. We're driving through Iran, Turkey and Europe between late May and Mid July, and will only arrive in New York City by the 22nd of July. I figured it will take us one month to get to Prudoe Bay via Detroit, Montreal, Calgary, Dawson etc.

I think the electric vest for my wife will be on the shopping list. I'll purchase one in New York, as I'm sure we will spend 2 or 3 days there upgrading our other gear such as sleeping bags and rain gear too.

Johan
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Old 20 Apr 2008
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My two cents... buy the entire heated jacket and pants for your wife and the one piece rain suit. If she is wet, she will be cold, and if she is cold, she will be miserable. It is a sure bet that you will run into temperatures well below 16F and RAIN. I rode up the Alcan in at the beginning of May a few years ago and had wonderful weather until I hit -5C and snow and that was just on the way north. May and September have a lot in common. So my advice to you is to plan for freezing temperatures and lots and lots of driving rain. It's a win win... if it is freezing cold and raining hard you'll be prepared and if it's beautiful then you'll be surprised!

Will you skip Azerbaijan and head directly into Turkey?
Cheers and happy riding!
Sue
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Old 23 Apr 2008
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alaska weather

i live in fairbanks and can tell you August is usually very rainy. You never know when snow comes. sometimes up by prudhoe it arrives early sep. anyway, expect some cold weather, but some beautiful country as the fall is the prettiest. oh, and if it is clear and you are up north you should get a glimpse of the northern lights...if you're lucky!
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Old 23 Apr 2008
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Cool

Thanks guys

I will come to AK equiped for rain and snow. It is the part of the world I'm looking the most forward to. Me, my wife and our GS is all ready to get back on the road. We will leave Dubai no later than 1st of June and it will probibly be 47 deg C, drive to the UK, and sail accros the Atlantic to New York. We should leave New York by the end of July, so we have one month to get to Prudhoe Bay.

Johan
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Old 23 Apr 2008
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nice

that sunds good Johan. if you are going to be riding back to New York, or somewhere else, it might pay to cruise up, enjoy alaska and take it a little slower going back.
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Old 31 May 2008
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Cool I'll look for you on the road

Johan, It appears that we will be sharing the same wet and cold weather conditions in Alaska around mid-August. I'll be the other late (in the season) arriving rider to Alaska. Look for the wet (and loving it) rider on a grey GS Adv.
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