BC/Yukon/Alaska plans 2020...???

borabora

Well-known member
Anyone still planning an adventure trek up through BC into the Yukon and then possibly to Alaska from the US or other Canadian provinces? I am getting the feeling chances are slim to zero that this will be possible in 2020 for me. Border between US and Canada is still closed to leisure traffic. Yukon is closed to leisure traffic. All my favorite stop-over parks, towns and businesses either closed or partially closed. I have done this for the last 4 years and miss it a lot. I have always left April/May to avoid mosquitos, early snow and crowds. Anyone's travel plans still alive and likely to happen as far as you are thinking?
Yes, I also consider myself lucky to be healthy and to be in the fortunate situation of worrying about nothing more important than my cancelled leisure activities...
 

Mein Sprinter

Known member
We've been all over these areas; Yukon, BC; NWT, Arctic Circle-Inuvik; Haida Gwaii, BC; Alaska....haven't been to Yellowknife, NWT and Cap aux Meules, QC.

Correct about travels in April and May+...

Like you said Canada is still closed for now and when will they open? Yellowknife, NWT is better in November to view Aurora Borealis, but Cap aux Meules, QC is better right now...

Guess, might have to do these in 2021.

Cheers...
 

borabora

Well-known member
We've been all over these areas; Yukon, BC; NWT, Arctic Circle-Inuvik; Haida Gwaii, BC; Alaska....haven't been to Yellowknife, NWT and Cap aux Meules, QC.

Correct about travels in April and May+...

Like you said Canada is still closed for now and when will they open? Yellowknife, NWT is better in November to view Aurora Borealis, but Cap aux Meules, QC is better right now...

Guess, might have to do these in 2021.

Cheers...
Yes, Northern lights would make a late trip special. One part of early northern trips I don't like is short nights, lack of sleep and also unlikeliness of seeing Northern lights. I was in Yellowknife in the 80s and would love to see what it's like now. When we drove up then we saw some awesome Northern lights.
2020 is probably bust -- even for a late departure but maybe an extra early departure for '21 might work out. I was headed to Inuvik last year but had to turn around in Whitehorse due to a family issue. It's still on the list. Also Barrow though it's supposed to be a pit. The place I'd really like to go to is Churchill but I guess the amphibious conversion of the Sprinter will take me a while.
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
I'm planning a roadtrip to Yellowknife in March 2021. A friend of mine has some contacts there. The city webpages say the aurora season runs from November through April. I seem to recall the peak is in March, although don't hold me to that. Along the way I would probably visit Banff and Jasper NP's as well.

I would love to trek up through BC into the Yukon and Alaska as well, either tacked on to this trip, or as a separate trip. I was planning on spending a month just getting to/from NWT, so throwing in the Yukon and Alaska might be a stretch for my kitchen pass for that trip, but we'll see. Eventually I will get there.
 

Mein Sprinter

Known member
Yes, Northern lights would make a late trip special. One part of early northern trips I don't like is short nights, lack of sleep and also unlikeliness of seeing Northern lights. I was in Yellowknife in the 80s and would love to see what it's like now. When we drove up then we saw some awesome Northern lights.
2020 is probably bust -- even for a late departure but maybe an extra early departure for '21 might work out. I was headed to Inuvik last year but had to turn around in Whitehorse due to a family issue. It's still on the list. Also Barrow though it's supposed to be a pit. The place I'd really like to go to is Churchill but I guess the amphibious conversion of the Sprinter will take me a while.
Northern Lights seem to be best viewed in during much colder months; late November-December-Jan. We don't mind going during these months and have a good heating system in the Van. We're also aware that the road (route#3) is well taken care off in the winter ; diesel fuel is well winterized there, BUT our Sprinter (a 2010 Roadtrek Agile that's been modified/converted by us to meet off grid/boon-docking accessibility) water system is exposed as are all water plumbings underneath that will freeze which we have experienced before. Either that we empty all H2O tanks and carry containers of such. Too cumbersome to insulate!

Aahhh,,, Churchill, Manitoba sounds interesting. It's now on our bucket list. Confused it with Churchill Falls, Labrador where we have been before. Maybe Churchill, Manitoba isn't as cold as Yellowknife, NWT??

Barrow ???. Cannot drive there??... Doing the Dalton/Dead Horse way to Prudhoe isn't too pleasant, so no go. Cannot even go to the Arctic for a swim without these Petro guys permission or tours?? Nunavut is also interesting, but no road getting there.

Go back to Inuvik some time as Tukoyatuk, NWT is open now, the former "ice road" is no more. Missed it. Might give it a future try. We enjoyed Inuvik during their Native summer festival. There you can go swimming in the Arctic with no barriers.

Anyway, Canada is CLOSED they say until Amerika has no more Covid-19. Getting a year older coming into 2021, aaarrrgghh!

cheers
 

Mein Sprinter

Known member
I'm planning a roadtrip to Yellowknife in March 2021. A friend of mine has some contacts there. The city webpages say the aurora season runs from November through April. I seem to recall the peak is in March, although don't hold me to that. Along the way I would probably visit Banff and Jasper NP's as well.

I would love to trek up through BC into the Yukon and Alaska as well, either tacked on to this trip, or as a separate trip. I was planning on spending a month just getting to/from NWT, so throwing in the Yukon and Alaska might be a stretch for my kitchen pass for that trip, but we'll see. Eventually I will get there.
Aurora peaking in March, 2021...then we might zip up there; less cold for our cold prone H2O system? Canada might then be open with a new USA administration?? Just love Canada. 75% of our summer trips tend to be Canadian Provinces. We feel safe there although in 2019 we were a bit nervous when we were in the middle of a teenage murder scenario in BC, where the guys vanished into Canada's Wilderness. Stayed a bit closer in Provincial parks instead of stealth camping.

cheers
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
That would be cool to meet up if it works out. I'm not sure about above-freezing temps that time of year though. Another contact a bit further north who runs some sled-dog trips was talking about temps as low as -40F that time of year and basically refused to take us. I'm hoping it won't be that cold in Yellowknife though as I intend to spend a lot of time under the stars. I just got my van and it's pretty tricked out for cold weather with heated windshield, H12, etc. I'll be adding a D2 and my plan is for indoor water storage and batteries (LifePo4). Not sure how realistic it will be to keep the van above freezing for weeks at a time, but we'll see. I am incredibly stoked to get this thing build-out for some epic road trips.
 
I took an old girlfriend in late March of 2019 up to Yellowknife for a few days of watching the Aurora Borealis. It was spectacular and as dynamic an experience as anyone could imagine with out ever seeing the lights previously.

We flew, so no opinions of the road trip to get there and back.

Each evening we would be bussed a half hour or so out of town to the Aurora Lodge, a native Canadian owned property with a central lodge for eating and hanging out in overlooking their own frozen lake. There were daytime and nighttime activities available.

For the nighttime sessions, we would be bussed out for a nice sunset view from the lodge, have a great meal as the darkness came on and the light show picked up. There were several choices to sit out on the frozen lakebed in fold up chairs or some very cool fiberglass two seat enclosures set up on a couple of different decks on some hills overlooking the lodge. These deck mounted seats are able to lean back and swivel round to view the whole sky in a comfortable position AND, they were heated. You feel the heat coming up from your toasty feet for hours on end.

We did rent outerwear back in town from the Aurora Lodge outlet. Boots, pants', and a hooded jacket with very little under garments keep us so warm on the inside for hours on end.

We would be bussed back to town each night at 2:30am. It made getting up early enough for breakfast at the Explorer Hotel tough to get up in time for. This hotel is on the highest hill in town and has a view of the Great Slave Lake in the distance. It is the second deepest lake in North America. Their on site restaurant is the bomb and has a great view out on the forest covered in several feet of snow. Arctic Char has got to be one of the best tasting fish around. We had it at almost every meal and it never disappointed.

Two blocks from the hotel is an easy walk to the Prince Albert, Edward?? Natural history museum that is not to be missed. Tracing back a hundred thousand years of animal species that lived there before the ice age. Who knew there were American lions and horses and giant beavers before the ice age? We spent several hours trying to see everything on the only afternoon we had free. Don't miss this when in town.

The Aurora Lodge's daytime activities included getting a half hour ride on a dog sled through the forest surrounding the frozen lakebed. It was driven by native Canadians who also maintained the hundred or so sled dogs living on site. These dogs wanted nothing other than the chance to run and were well taken care of by the native Canadians. It was a hoot racing through the trees on a narrow trail with our guide telling us stories between keeping the sled going and running alongside at times when the trail ascended. How he kept that centered on the trail with no rudder was amazing.

The Aurora Lodge also has an ice lined chute for racing down the hill onto the lakebed in some inner tube type of seat thingy. It was a blast. They also offer some ice fishing on their lake for those that want to catch and cook them up over an open fire.

The nighttime is the reason to go in the first place, and it did not disappoint. For hours on end, we watched the lights come over the northern horizon nonstop at times as the Borealis spread across the sky and morphed into many shapes and vivid colors. Words cannot describe the dynamic show we came for. This was my first time seeing the Aurora and will not be the last.

I chose Yellowknife to begin with because of its location for the best chance for clear skies at that time of year. Most storms tend to go south from Alaska which gives the NWT a chance of missing many of the storms that cross the Pacific.

As one who has always preferred the tropics, this was a departure from my normal and so worth it. Yes I flew, and have no idea about the driving up there, but however one gets there, go!!!!!

Sorry to ramble on and on, and there is more to tell. One thing is clear, there will be other trips to the far north once we are all able to travel again safely in this new world that we have to deal with. Stay safe everybody.
 

Mein Sprinter

Known member
That would be cool to meet up if it works out. I'm not sure about above-freezing temps that time of year though. Another contact a bit further north who runs some sled-dog trips was talking about temps as low as -40F that time of year and basically refused to take us. I'm hoping it won't be that cold in Yellowknife though as I intend to spend a lot of time under the stars. I just got my van and it's pretty tricked out for cold weather with heated windshield, H12, etc. I'll be adding a D2 and my plan is for indoor water storage and batteries (LifePo4). Not sure how realistic it will be to keep the van above freezing for weeks at a time, but we'll see. I am incredibly stoked to get this thing build-out for some epic road trips.

Lucky you starting from scratch while we're trying to strip ours and make it more like yours. Too many underbody appendages to add a D2. Do be mindful that you might have to insulate your Lithiums in cold weather (either post heaters or blanket heaters). Solar panels might help in keeping these batteries in order so that you can extend your stay.

While not ideal and safe, we still have our 16 gallon propane crap on ours: heat; hot water and stove. So far so good! We're headed to the Agile Off-road guys next month and have a RIP system installed; tires/wheels, etc. also looking at having our Van raised some 3" for better underbody protection.

cheers
 
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Mein Sprinter

Known member
I took an old girlfriend in late March of 2019 up to Yellowknife for a few days of watching the Aurora Borealis. It was spectacular and as dynamic an experience as anyone could imagine with out ever seeing the lights previously.

We flew, so no opinions of the road trip to get there and back.

Each evening we would be bussed a half hour or so out of town to the Aurora Lodge, a native Canadian owned property with a central lodge for eating and hanging out in overlooking their own frozen lake. There were daytime and nighttime activities available.

For the nighttime sessions, we would be bussed out for a nice sunset view from the lodge, have a great meal as the darkness came on and the light show picked up. There were several choices to sit out on the frozen lakebed in fold up chairs or some very cool fiberglass two seat enclosures set up on a couple of different decks on some hills overlooking the lodge. These deck mounted seats are able to lean back and swivel round to view the whole sky in a comfortable position AND, they were heated. You feel the heat coming up from your toasty feet for hours on end.

We did rent outerwear back in town from the Aurora Lodge outlet. Boots, pants', and a hooded jacket with very little under garments keep us so warm on the inside for hours on end.

We would be bussed back to town each night at 2:30am. It made getting up early enough for breakfast at the Explorer Hotel tough to get up in time for. This hotel is on the highest hill in town and has a view of the Great Slave Lake in the distance. It is the second deepest lake in North America. Their on site restaurant is the bomb and has a great view out on the forest covered in several feet of snow. Arctic Char has got to be one of the best tasting fish around. We had it at almost every meal and it never disappointed.

Two blocks from the hotel is an easy walk to the Prince Albert, Edward?? Natural history museum that is not to be missed. Tracing back a hundred thousand years of animal species that lived there before the ice age. Who knew there were American lions and horses and giant beavers before the ice age? We spent several hours trying to see everything on the only afternoon we had free. Don't miss this when in town.

The Aurora Lodge's daytime activities included getting a half hour ride on a dog sled through the forest surrounding the frozen lakebed. It was driven by native Canadians who also maintained the hundred or so sled dogs living on site. These dogs wanted nothing other than the chance to run and were well taken care of by the native Canadians. It was a hoot racing through the trees on a narrow trail with our guide telling us stories between keeping the sled going and running alongside at times when the trail ascended. How he kept that centered on the trail with no rudder was amazing.

The Aurora Lodge also has an ice lined chute for racing down the hill onto the lakebed in some inner tube type of seat thingy. It was a blast. They also offer some ice fishing on their lake for those that want to catch and cook them up over an open fire.

The nighttime is the reason to go in the first place, and it did not disappoint. For hours on end, we watched the lights come over the northern horizon nonstop at times as the Borealis spread across the sky and morphed into many shapes and vivid colors. Words cannot describe the dynamic show we came for. This was my first time seeing the Aurora and will not be the last.

I chose Yellowknife to begin with because of its location for the best chance for clear skies at that time of year. Most storms tend to go south from Alaska which gives the NWT a chance of missing many of the storms that cross the Pacific.

As one who has always preferred the tropics, this was a departure from my normal and so worth it. Yes I flew, and have no idea about the driving up there, but however one gets there, go!!!!!

Sorry to ramble on and on, and there is more to tell. One thing is clear, there will be other trips to the far north once we are all able to travel again safely in this new world that we have to deal with. Stay safe everybody.

Wow... great narrative of yours. This isn't a ramble, its akin to a National Geographic broadcast show. Wow.. we must go. Gotta find a way to insulate my Van somehow!? YES, always loved the North during summer months. As you say March is still pretty frozen up there. Thank you, you convinced us.

cheers
 

white whale

Member
Aahhh,,, Churchill, Manitoba sounds interesting. It's now on our bucket list. Confused it with Churchill Falls, Labrador where we have been before. Maybe Churchill, Manitoba isn't as cold as Yellowknife, NWT??
Know someone that just left to do the tour buses for the polar bears. Drove out from BC and they train in his truck from Thompson. I'm asking for pictures. Even in Canada, they are asking for self quarantine for him once he gets on the ground.
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
Lucky you starting from scratch while we're trying to strip ours and make it more like yours. Too many underbody appendages to add a D2.
In the pedestal under the passenger seat? Seems like that's the most popular place to put it.
Do be mindful that you might have to insulate your Lithiums in cold weather (either post heaters or blanket heaters). Solar panels might help in keeping these batteries in order so that you can extend your stay.
I'm not even sure I'll need to bother insulating/heating the Lithium batteries as long as I keep the van heated for the whole trip. I will definitely have a low-temp charging cut-off though in case the heat fails for some reason. Alternator charging for sure. Maybe solar too.
 

borabora

Well-known member
I'm planning a roadtrip to Yellowknife in March 2021. A friend of mine has some contacts there. The city webpages say the aurora season runs from November through April. I seem to recall the peak is in March, although don't hold me to that. Along the way I would probably visit Banff and Jasper NP's as well.

I would love to trek up through BC into the Yukon and Alaska as well, either tacked on to this trip, or as a separate trip. I was planning on spending a month just getting to/from NWT, so throwing in the Yukon and Alaska might be a stretch for my kitchen pass for that trip, but we'll see. Eventually I will get there.
As mentioned before I saw Yellowknife in the mid 80s so my impressions are hardly up to date. The drive through Alberta and also southern NWT was beautiful. It's hard to beat the Jasper area and the Glacier highway. But northern NWT is a bit more barren. Yellowknife was tiny then but probably a pretty interesting place to explore now. The Great Slave Lake was totally wild with tons of drift wood on all shore. No boats then but probably different now. I would currently rate northern BC and the Yukon as slightly more interesting -- keeping in mind 35 years of impression difference. One thing though, we saw beautiful northern lights on the drive up to Yellowknife (I forget where exactly) in mid summer. Probably just dumb luck.
If you are prepared for winter conditions then your March adventure should be awesome. (And given that I have encountered snow flurries and stick to the ground snow in June in both the Yukon and Alaska, really anybody who goes there at any time should be prepared for winter conditions.) Earliest I have been North is late April and the Yukon river was still frozen as were all the lakes but no snow on the roads. It was stunning.
 

Boxster1971

2012 Sprinter 3500 Ext
. . . The place I'd really like to go to is Churchill but I guess the amphibious conversion of the Sprinter will take me a while.
Churchill is an amazing place. Yes - you can't drive there. Made the trip a few years ago in August. Drove to Thompson; stored van at a local RV campground for 10 days. Took train to Churchill and stayed in local lodge offering a tour package. Got the best pictures of Polar Bears on a boat tour along the coast of Hudson Bay. It was interesting being in a place where you can become prey for a starving Polar Bear. The city takes safety from Polar Bear attacks very serious. They even have a Polar Bear jail to lockup stray bears that get close to people in area. In the winter bears are not much of a problem as they can get on the ice to feed on seals. In summer you also get to see the Beluga whales in the Churchill River.
 

Mein Sprinter

Known member
This information from you guys is fabulous. Just googled away lots of Yellowknife this and that. Maybe September before the campgrounds close. March has no campgrounds open according to their travel advises. Since March is BEST... maybe making contact with some homeowners that would be willing to accommodate us electrically in their driveway with of course paying them for parking there! We're rearing to go..... just when and which month!

cheers...
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
As mentioned before I saw Yellowknife in the mid 80s so my impressions are hardly up to date. The drive through Alberta and also southern NWT was beautiful. It's hard to beat the Jasper area and the Glacier highway. But northern NWT is a bit more barren. Yellowknife was tiny then but probably a pretty interesting place to explore now.
It doesn't sound that way according to my friend Stan who went a year ago. Maybe it's even gotten smaller. He said Yellowknife was literally nothing at all. Not even a stop-light I believe he said. There are places that have shrunk like that. Coos Bay, OR is one that comes to mind.
The Great Slave Lake was totally wild with tons of drift wood on all shore. No boats then but probably different now. I would currently rate northern BC and the Yukon as slightly more interesting -- keeping in mind 35 years of impression difference. One thing though, we saw beautiful northern lights on the drive up to Yellowknife (I forget where exactly) in mid summer. Probably just dumb luck.
Sounds awesome.
If you are prepared for winter conditions then your March adventure should be awesome. (And given that I have encountered snow flurries and stick to the ground snow in June in both the Yukon and Alaska, really anybody who goes there at any time should be prepared for winter conditions.) Earliest I have been North is late April and the Yukon river was still frozen as were all the lakes but no snow on the roads. It was stunning.
Thanks, I will definitely be prepared. :cheers:
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
BTW, as it stands, I have three weeks booked in the Katmai region of Alaska this summer, end of August into September. 1 week at Brooks Falls (camping), and another week on a private yacht with Zodiaks to take us out to different spots to view the bears around Kodiak. The latter is a photography workshop organized by some fellow photographers I know. Throw in a few travel days and it adds up to three weeks. It's been a long-time dream of mine to do something like this, every since seeing this famous picture by Thomas D. Mangelsen. But I'm fearing it won't happen due to C19. :mad:

 
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Mein Sprinter

Known member
BTW, as it stands, I have three weeks booked in the Katmai region of Alaska this summer, end of August into September. 1 week at Brooks Falls (camping), and another week on a private yacht with Zodiaks to take us out to different spots to view the bears around Kodiak. The latter is a photography workshop organized by some fellow photographers I know. Throw in a few travel days and it adds up to three weeks. It's been a long-time dream of mine to do something like this, every since seeing this famous picture by Thomas D. Mangelsen. But I'm fearing it won't happen due to C19. :mad:

VanGoSki, have faith! It might still happen regardless of this virus. End of August > September, hmmnn... I bet you it's still on.

cheers
 

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