Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 19

Thread: Planning a trip from New Jersey to Anchorage (Alaska)... Any advices are welcome !

  1. #1

    Planning a trip from New Jersey to Anchorage (Alaska)... Any advices are welcome !

    I'm starting to plan a road trip from Northern New Jersey to Anchorage (Alaska). I have a '04 R1150RT and ideally would love to make this trip Spring or Summer '09 (something memorable to do for my 40th birthday!!!! worst-case scenario I'll postponed to 2010). I'm scheduling 3 weeks to cover the 5000 miles. I am originaly from Western Europe (but live in NJ) and so far my idea was to drive directly to South Dakota and Montana (Go through Mount Rushmore SD, Flathead Lake/Mission Valley in Montana) and then head north to Canada and Alaska. As I am at a very early stage of planning I would love to hear any comments, recommendations and advices on "must see"sceneries, "must have" gears/equipment etc... from people who did similar road trip.
    Looking forward to reading your answers.

  2. #2
    Registered User stkmkt1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Tremont, IL
    I am also beginning to plan a trip to Alaska, including Prudhoe Bay. But due to time constraints other issues, I cannot take a trip longer than about one week until 2012. I'm not sure I would consider myself an authority regarding the Alaska trip so I will only offer my best wishes. But not knowing your previous touring experience, I will say you should be prepared to ride on gravel roads, be able to fend for yourself regarding bike breakdowns and potential wildlife encounters, and make sure you have plenty of gas. Beyond that, I'm sure others will be better qualified to provide recommendations.

  3. #3
    Registered User nplenzick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Warrington, Pa.
    I'm not an authority on Alaska however I live not too far away from you in SE PA and I've been out west many times. If your going to the Black Hills area you may want to continue to the Yellowstone area and then up to Glacier national park on your way to Alaska. All of these areas are spectacular to say the least and if your headed out that way it would be wise to consider them. I would say your looking at closer to 8000 miles round trip then 5000 miles. Once you get past the Missouri river there's plenty to see and experience espesically if it's your first time out west so leave enough time to do it. I really would not recommend a spring trip as many of the mountain passes will be closed until the latter part of June and the weather is very unpredictable in the spring, in fact in the higher elevations it's unpredictable anytime of the year. You could leave Jersey around the third week of June by the time you hit the Rockies most passes should be open even though you'll see plenty of snow in those higher elevations, a lot of wildflowers will be blooming and you'll see a good amount of wildlife with newborns. It's always been my favorite time of the year out there. Have fun, I wish I could go with you!

  4. #4
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Sheboygan, WI


    Certainly, no one of us is the absolute authority on long-distance riding, and the adventure you propose.

    Therefore, I think you're making excellent use of this Forum by seeking out a plethora of opinions and anecdotal advice on how to prepare and survive your trip.

    My minor contributions:

    Beware the fierce weather of the open plains. You will need to cover long, open stretches of areas such as South Dakota. Mother Nature can have 'an attitude' when it comes to high winds and violent thunderstorms, so seek cover quickly at the first sign of darkening skies. The time you 'lose' will be nothing compared to the dangers you risk by 'pushing thru a little rain.'

    Secondly, start with new rubber and plan for tire replacement along the way. Long hours at high speed on interstates with an overloaded bike will eat your rear tire for breakfast! Been there - done that.

    Thirdly, try to pack as light as possible. Be sure you're going to need everything you bring before adding it to the load. Wear a jacket that has removable layers and many vents so that it can be all things in all climates. Olympia, BMW and TourMaster all make products that fill this bill.

    Good Luck, and I hope you get much more advice during these winter months that may prove helpful.

  5. #5
    A wandering Bird Vagabird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Portland OR
    I rode to Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Dawson City last June. I've only done the trip the one time, so I'm certainly no expert.

    The only gravel I encountered was the Top Of the World Highway between Chicken AK and Dawson City. If you are going to stay on the Alaskan Hwy and similar roads, don't worry about gravel. There were sections of fresh chip-seal, but you can encounter them in the lower 48.

    I left Wyoming before Memorial Day and hit snow, ice, sleet, rain, and some nice weather. I tried to go before the black fly season, and the mosquitos were just coming out, but I think next time I'll try a little later.

    If you're planning on going through the Black Hills, etc., you are probably looking at 5000 miles each way. If you go through Yellowstone, allow plenty of time; traffic is very often slow, with tie-ups if any animals are visible from the road (as they almost always are).

    The main problem I found on the the Alaskan Hwy, other than some horrific weather, was the sparsity and meagerness of the facilities. If you plan to camp, remember that a lot of it is bear country. If you plan to stay in rooms, remember that they are often very basic. Gas up when you can. Gas stations are often far apart and don't always have gas or the electricity to pump it. Get a current copy of Milepost - that will tell you where the gas stations are. (But be prepared for missing ones. One of the listed ones had burned down a month before I got there.)

    Other than rain gear and warm clothing and a camera, I don't think there is any must-have. Have a wonderful time!
    '16 R1200RS

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -- Mae West

  6. #6
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA

    Enjoy! It is the trip of a lifetime!

    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador Emeritus / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million 100 thousand BMW sMiles

  7. #7
    A wandering Bird Vagabird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Portland OR
    Oh, BTW pasandra, WELCOME TO THE FORUM!
    '16 R1200RS

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -- Mae West

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Altoona pa
    Dont miss Bear tooth pass on your way out the top of Yellowstone. Did a similar trip up to Glacier two years ago and almost missed it. Was the highlight of the trip through Bear tooth and into red lodge and then to Glacier all in the same day, what a day.

    Brett Endress
    Altoona PA

  9. #9
    First of all... thanks a lot for all your answers. Each and everyone of them bring valuable informations to the planning. One thing I feel I have to clarify... Once I reach Anchorage I will fly back to the east coast and ship the bike back to NJ (I am starting to request quotes from different shipping companies). It's the reason why my trip will only cover 5000 miles (one way).
    Any more thoughts ???

  10. #10
    Registered User widebmw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Reno, NV
    Maybe you could find someone who would like to fly to Anchorage pick up the bike and ride it back.

  11. #11
    A wandering Bird Vagabird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Portland OR
    If you're going through the Black Hills and perhaps Yellowstone, consider taking US 14/16 from Gillette through Ucross. It isn't much slower than the interstate but is a more interesting road.

    From Ranchester WY, take US 14 west to the top of the Bighorn Mountains. At the top, take US 14A toward Lovell. Somewhere before the road drops down is the Medicine Wheel, an old native stone arrangement that has healing properties. 14A then drops off the cliff in a rather spectaular fashion. (14A is closed in the winter and both 14 and 14A can be closed by snow any time into June.)

    West of Powell on the road to Cody are the remains of the Heart Mountain internment camp. This was a camp built by the US government to hold US citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. There's not much there but it's worth the stop if you can find it. (It's along 14A.)

    Cody, besides being a tourist town and the ear-tag capital of the world (about 80% of cattle ear tags are manufactured there, or were), is the home of the Buffalo Bill Center. It is a group of museums - art, native art, guns, other stuff - that is worth the visit. But you'll need at least half a day to see it, so you might want to skip it this trip.

    From Cody you can head into Yellowstone. If you want to skip the traffic in Yellowstone, head north on WY 120 and take the Chief Joseph Highway over Dead Indian Pass (WY 296). This is a little-traveled road through gorgeous scenery. Either way, take Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge MT. Beartooth is one of the most spectacular roads in the US, if not THE most spectuacular. (I'm not sure when Beartooth opens in the spring, but it's probably close to Memorial Day. The roads in Yellowstone usually open mid-May but can be snowpacked until weeks later.)

    Consider heading toward Lake Louise AB. From there you can take the Icefields Parkway north to Jasper. It's a beautiful ride, although it can be cold and/or damp.

    Up in the Yukon, consider taking a side trip to Skagway AK. The road and town are interesting. Skagway was the landing place for a lot of the Gold Rush people of 1890 going to the Klondike. You can either go back to the Alaskan Hwy the same way or take the ferry to Haines and ride through the beautiful scenery to Haines Junction where you rejoin the Alaskan Highway. (The Skagway and Haines roads are paved.)

    Have fun. Sometimes I think the planning and anticipation are almost as much fun as the doing.
    '16 R1200RS

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -- Mae West

  12. #12

    Cool Bugs/Bears/Phones/Plastic

    FWIW -

    NJ-AK-NJ advice:

    1) Pack ultra-lite. Use credit card to purchase stuff on the road to avoid overloading.

    2) Most important item to bring, MOA Anonymous.

    3) Bugs will become a major hassle, at dawn and dusk, the farther you move north. Small micro-fiber towel and spray bottle, to keep visor clean, will vastly improve view and vision.

    4) Make sure to check your the coverage of your cell phone provider along your intended route of travel, if you want to stay in contact with others. Turn it on only when needed to communicate to save battery charge.

    5) Finding another travel companion to share the road will quadruple your fun.

    6) Advance planning and reservations for lodging is a must, as options become limited the further you move north.

    7) Advance planning of gas stops becomes critical, too.

    8) If planning to camp along the way, keep food well separate from camp because of bears.

    9) Bring a good digital camera with a big storage chip.


    10) Ship home souvenirs FedEx/UPS, instead of packing them.


    P.S. Remember, let somebody know your planned itinerary and route of travel, in case something bad happens.

  13. #13
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Big Sky Country

    You mention that you are planning the trip to Anchorage; I hope you are planning to see other parts of the state as well. Anchorage is an okay city, but it is a city not unlike any other US city. Now Fairbanks is a different story. A shinning city on a hill (well close to one anyway) it is the gateway to the far north and home to many an unusual Alaskan. My recommendations:

    •Do not fixate on the road conditions you will encounter. The roads to and from Alaska are generally well maintained and navigable on any motorcycle from Goldwing to Vespa.

    •If you plan to camp there are sufficient places to so, as well as motels if that is your plan. As others have said, get the Milepost so you know where things are. Plan to camp one night at Laird Hot Springs and take in the waters.

    •Fuel is not an issue; there are many fuel points along the way; however access to fuel can be an issue. Few stations are open after 1800 hrs and many are closed on Sundays. It is rare to find a station that has pumps that allow you to swipe a credit card while the station is closed.

    •Vary your route up and back. For instance take the Cassiar up and the ALCAN back; or, take the Cassiar up and the ferry back (Haines to Prince Rupert).

    •Summers in Alaska seem to have personalities. Some are wet and cold others are hot and dry with attending forest fires and smoke. On a ride to and from Montana last year we had significant rain on 11 of 14 riding days, as well as temperatures in the 40’s on several days. Selecting good warm/waterproof clothing and camping gear is perhaps your most important chore.

    •In Anchorage visit Alaska Leather and if you need tires on the trip that’s the place to go.

    •In Fairbanks, I can offer access to the campus housing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. During the summer we use the dorms to house a variety of programs and some guests. They are Spartan, but clean, warm and dry; and, at $38/nite for two far cheaper than a $120/nite flea bag hotel. PM me if you are interested.

    •If you want to have your bike serviced at either the Motorcycle Store in Anchorage or Trails End BMW in Fairbanks it is a good idea to call ahead and set-up an appointment. Both get swamped with travelers in the summer.

    •You indicated you might want to make the trip in the spring. I wouldn’t recommend anything prior to mid-May for the Yukon and Alaska phases of the trip. You cannot predict what kind of weather you’ll hit, but earlier than that can be high risk for some ugly stuff.

    •Visit the ADVRiders Alaska forum at There are often threads about riding up here and responses from folks who have made the ride many times. There is a great thread on this forum about the Alaska ferry system; you may have to dig back a bit to find it, but it is well worth the effort.

    •Other places to see if time permits: Denali park (you have to take a shuttle to get deep into the park; Valdez to go Halibut fishing or sight see to the Columbia Glacier; the Kenai Peninsula (a completely different Alaska); you can go fishing at several places on the Kenai and if you catch a 200 pound halibut have it frozen and shipped home. While in Fairbanks a side trip to Chena Hotsprings is worth the 60 mile ride.

    •Dirt? If you ride dirt roads there are trips to Manley Hot Springs, Circle Hotsprings, the Denali Highway and of course the haul road. If the timing is right you can ride the Top of the World Highway from Tok to Dawson and attend the Dust 2 Dawson gathering on 25-26 June 2008. There is info on this event at the ADVRiders site above.

    Kevin Huddy
    Silver City, Montana
    MOA# 24,790 Ambassador

  14. #14
    #13338 PGlaves's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    "Big Bend" TX
    We have made the trip twice - 1991 and 2008

    We made the trips essentially starting in mid to late May in Kansas - June in the Canadian north country and Alaska. The summer solstice way up north is wonderful. Bugs are minimal in June - worse later. Rain is skimpier in June - more in July, more yet in August.

    In 1991 we had 1 day of rain in the Yukon - about 20 miles worth - early June.

    In 2008 we had one serious day of rain we sat out in Watson Lake and one miserable day riding south (Teslin to Watson Lake) later. That was it.

    AK Beemer is the expert - but in any year you are likely to stay drier and encounter fewer mosquitoes and other pests in June than you are in either July or August in our experience.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  15. #15
    I ain't no expert either but I did manage two trips to Alaska myself.
    2005 on a 10 year old airhead GS and in 2007 on a brand spankin' new 1200GSA.
    Lots'a great tips from all those who've replied for traveling to Alaska.
    I'd like to offer this...

    Free camping at Anchorage Harley Davidson!!!!

    and if you arrive early enough, you get the choice of campin' spots!!

    The Haul Road is a "Once in a Life Time Ride" even if just for braggin' rights!!

    Do you like uncongested scenery....?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts