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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 7 Jul 2010
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Alternate routes from WA to AK??

Howdy,

I am leaving on my KTM 950 Adventure for what will be a cruise of a lifetime! I would like to ask for some suggestions on alternate routes from the Trans-Can Hwy. I am looking for more scenery and some two lanes instead of the interstate feel all the way up. Any experience out there??

Thanks,

Andy
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  #2  
Old 7 Jul 2010
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Hey Andy,

Plenty of options for riding up from Washington State to Alaska. In B.C., the basic options are to stick to the western side of the province, the middle, or the eastern side of the province.

The western side would mean you ride from Vancouver-Whistler-Cache Creek- Prince George-Stewart-Watson Lake. Beautiful country, southern and northern part don't see that much traffic.

The middle route (most travelled) is Vancouver-Hope-Cache Creek-Prince George-Dawson Creek. (Trans Canada is actually only freeway for 150 km from Vancouver to Hope, after that it is quite windy on the way to Cache Creek so is actually a very nice ride through the Fraser Canyon, no need to avoid it.)

The eastern route is roughly Spokane-Nelson-Nakusp-Revelstoke-Lake Louise-Jasper-Grande Prairie-Dawson Creek. Southern part takes you trhough the Rockies and nearby ranges, northern part more flat.

All are great options, try to mix them up on the way there and back. If you need a place to stay, drop me a line. Safe ride.
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  #3  
Old 7 Jul 2010
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Don't forget the ferry possibilities: Alaska ferry from Bellingham or Prince Rupert, or the BC ferry from Vancouver Island to Bella Coola or Prince Rupert.

Not much "interstate" between the lower mainland and Alaska. Mountain Man's western route is my favorite, including the Hurley Pass option because too much asphalt is bad for your KTM's disposition. There are some unpaved alternatives at the southern end of the Stuart Cassiar highway, and lots of unpaved side trips scattered along the way. Consult your favorite map for hints and pointers.

Hope that helps.

Mark

(from a very rainy rainforest in Costa Rica)
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  #4  
Old 7 Jul 2010
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OK, this is such a huge topic that I have a hard time knowing where to start. The possibilities are almost endless when you factor in all the forestry service roads, logging roads and ranch access roads leading all over the place.

First of all, the only freeways we have are:

From Vancouver to Hope (Trans Canada)
Hope to Kamloops (Coquihalla)
Merritt to Kelowna (Coquihalla Connector)
Nanaimo to Campbell River (Island Connector)

All of them can be avoided if so desired.

Also, the entire province only has about 4 million people, half of whom live in the Vancouver area. So traffic is relatively light except on weekends. There will be heavy truck traffic on the Trans Canada Highway.


Option:

Take Alaska Marine Highway (ferries) from Bellingham to one of many points north, starting with Prince Rupert, BC. This way you bypass the entire province (or part of it if you get off in Prince Rupert). It's expensive and takes several days to go all the way to some of the Alaskan destinations.




So let's first divide the province into two parts, South and North. North is anything north of Prince George and Prince Rupert. From that line you essentially only have two main roads going into the Yukon and on to Alaska. This is the easy part. South is where the options are much more plentiful.

In the north:

Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek. Paved mostly two lane road through lots of forest and some very long, lonely stretches. To reach the alaska highway you'd head straight north from Prince George to Dawson Creek. One neat thing along that route is Liard Hotsprings, a mandatory stop in my opinion.

Cassiar Highway from Kitwanga to Watson Lake. Kitwanga is about halfway between Terrace and Smithers in the Prince Rupert area. You can access that area via Prince George or Prince Rupert. As an alternative you could also head north from Terrace (gravel road) through New Ayansh and meet up with the Cassiar Highway from there. It takes you through a really neat "geologically recent" lava field. The Cassiar route, regardless of which souther route you choose, is my favourite. A side trip to Telegraph Creek is worthwhile (250km return from Dease Lake). The Cassiar Highway is now mostly paved and the gravel sections are built to "gravel highway" standards. In other words, it's a good road. Another neat side trip is from Stewart to Hyder, Alaska to be Hyderized at the local drinking spot. Don't forget to stop to take in the totems at Kitwanga ...or was it Kitwancool?


Now for the south.

Option:

Port Angeles, WA to Victoria BC via the Coho Ferry (Black Ball Ferries) Vancouver Island can also be accessed from Vancouver via BC Ferries (www.bcferries.com).

You can head north to Port Hardy to catch the northern ferry, also BC Ferries, which takes you to Prince Rupert. Victoria to Port Hardy is about 500km's along the main road. But there are several options for "the long way up", mostly via gravel roads and even the possibility of having you bike hoisted onto a supply ship on a pallet to go from Gold River to Zeballos.

You could also duck back off the island from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver area) and head to Whistler from there.

Option:

Via Vancouver area.
Head north to Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and beyond. The Sea to Sky Highway has changed dramatically in the last few years and there are many 4 lane sections. But it's absolutely stupendous, at least to Squamish from Horseshoe Bay. Once in Pemberton you have three options for heading north.

Duffey Lake Road to Lillooet, all paved but very scenic and twisty. They just recently repaved it and are going to be working on some other bad pavement this summer. So it's a really good motorcycle road.

Hurley Pass to Gold Bridge. This is a 2 wheel drive gravel road and is only open in the summer. It sometimes doesn't open until July when there's been very heavy snowfall through the winter. From Gold Bridge there's a gravel highway, very scenic with a little canyon thrown in for good measure. This takes you back out to Lillooet, same as the Duffey Lake Road. But it's much longer.

Highline Road from D'Arcy (north of Pemberton/Mount Currie) to Seton Portage. This is a rough dirt road and 4x4 is recommended, but I drove it in a K-Car 20 odd years ago. This road clings to the hillside overlooking Anderson Lake and is quite beautiful. From Seton Portage, a good gravel road takes you north through Salalth and connects with the gravel highway coming from Gold Bridge.

North of Lillooet you can turn off at Pavillion or Clinton for a large array of dirt roads that will take you close to the Fraser River, through ranch country all the way to Williams Lake. Or you could just follow Highway 97 north to Williams Lake and Prince George. Here you can decide on West to the Cassiar Highway or north to the Alaska Higway.


Option:

Cross somewhere near Castlegar/Trail and make your way north through Nelson, New Denver, Nakusp. Very beautiful area, and somewhat less travelled. From Nakusp you can head north to Revelstoke via a short ferry ride. Then head east to Golden and Lake Louise, Alberta. Head north on the Icefields Parkway. It can be busy and touristed but it is quite impressive. From Jasper, Alberta head west along Highway 16 to Prince George.

From Revelstoke you could also head west to connect with the highway north through Valemount or past Kamloops to connect with highway 97 to Williams Lake and Prince George. But if you're going to be in the Revelstoke area I'd recommend the Icefields Parkway if you have the time.

The other option after crossing near Castlegar is to stay east of the New Denver/Nakusp area and go through Invermere. But you'd be missing one of my favourite areas of BC. This entire area also has lots of great gravel roads all over the place.

There is also a route through the Okanagan Valley which takes you through BC's most famous wine growing areas. To me it's a bit too busy but it is hot and dry if you're into that.

Recommended maps:

Standard BC Highway map. Get a provincial map and not a country map. Our country is way to huge for that.

BC Backroads mapbook. This is more hardcore than the other maps and some roads listed may no longer exist or be grown over.

BC Forest Service Maps. No longer in print and becoming harder to find.

Map Art BC Road Atlas (Map Book). This is probably the best compromise map to have since it lists the better gravel roads but not necessarily all of them.

All of those should be available to order online.

If you want something more specific about my absolutely beautiful province please PM me. If you're coming through the Victoria area, let me know and we could maybe meet up for a nice brew or coffee.


....Michelle
www.scrabblebiker.com
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  #5  
Old 8 Jul 2010
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I feel so inadequate after reading Michelle's excellent post! I'll try to compensate by recommending that anyone visiting Stewart/Hyder wait until their hangover fades, then ride north out of Hyder on the obvious dirt road. It traverses some good grizzly habitat, then climbs next to the Salmon Glacier with superb views (and summer snowfields on which child-ish impulses can easily be gratified), then descends and follows the valley past spectacular viewpoints, decommissioned mines, side tracks into untrammeled wilderness..... I've never followed it to the end, but intend to bring supplies one day and explore. Maybe someone's already done this?

Mark
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  #6  
Old 8 Jul 2010
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Wow! Thanks everyone. I can tell everyone loves this region, and I am expecting an unforgettable ride! Thanks and I will keep you posted on how it all goes down. Cheers!

Andy
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