Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Hyder, Alaska Bizatches!

So I was going to do the Canadian Rockies on this upcoming trip.

Then my economic spidey senses started tingling.

"Look, Cappy, if you're going all the way to Prince George, then you may as well see if you can't make it to Alaska."

Never been there.  Alaska is one of those places like "Burma" or "France" that you'll never see or visit in your lifetime.  At least not on a bike.  But after an hour of searching on teh interwhebz I found the ONE town that is on a paved road that does not require I go to the Arctic Circle or take a slow-ass ferry.

Hyder, Alaska.

There is literally nothing there except bragging rights that I drove there and I can see some American border guards welcoming me "back home" though home would be the complete opposite direction. 

Regardless, I'm still doing the Canadian Rockies and will come through Kampaloos and the like, but I will be driving a bike to Alaska.  Which as far as I'm concerned puts me on par with Wolverine because he is well, you know, Canadian, drives a motorcycle and hails from the area.  Only difference is I'm just better looking that Hugh Jackman.


Glen Filthie said...

You can do it on a street bike but take extra skins - there is tons of chipped and gravel and punctures are not uncommon. I would make damn sure I had the gear for it too, you will see some weather and good gear is the difference between enjoying the trip and enduring it.

Check out the kids on the ADV rider forum - they OWN the Alaska highway and can help prepare you for its treachery.

Good luck!

V10 said...

I'm guessing you meant "Kamloops".

CBMTTek said...


You are doing yourself a disservice if you stop at Hyder and call it good.

Alaska has plenty of paved and (relatively) smooth gravel roads. There is a thriving biker community in Alaska, and several large organized rides every summer. I know of at least two people (curiously women) that have riden the Dust to Dawson ride on Hyabusas, (most ride BMWs or other rough terrain type bikes) so the roads are crotch rocket friendly (to a point). They even have a saying here "grateful for gravel" because it forces you to stop staring at the scenery and pay attention to the road.

And, what is wrong with crossing the Arctic Circle? Not a whole lot of folks do it, especially on motorcycles.

I cannot recommend strongly enough that you do not take the spur road to Hyder, and instead continue north west on the AlCan and enter Alaska at Delta Junciton or Eagle. From there, head south to Valdez and hike the Wrangell/ST. Elias mountains in the largest national park in the US, or head West and hit Denali, Talkeetna, or Anchorage and the Chugach mountains.

Add to that, if you are an avid hiker, that there are hundreds of thousands of miles of hiking trails and plenty of places to go off trail in the state. I have something like 500 miles of trails right behind my house in the Chugach State Park.

If you decide to skip Hyder and actually experience a bit more of Alaska, put up a post saying so, and I will send you an e-mail with some inside information.

Anonymous said...

I second what CBMTTek said!

I lived in Alaska on and off for 40 months over the past 4 years (including 14 months in an Eskimo village on the Bering Sea coast). It is a beautiful and diverse state.

I've driven the Alcan up to Tok and down to Anchorage a few times.

The Alcan is an awesome trip. Lots of animals and the locals are really cool. Just finish the trip before October because some of the towns in northern British Columbia and the Yukon close for the season. The Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake has Warsteiner on tap and all the Mom & Pop stops have both minerals / relics for sale and an ongoing competition to see who can make the best cinnamon buns.

The Sun Dog retreat just outside of Whitehorse was a nice place to stay when my kids/pets did the trip with me. The Snowshoe motel in Tok sounds like the place you recently stayed at in the Badlands.

Anchorage is fun and one of the largest by sq. mile cities in the US. The Spenard Roadhouse has good food and you would probably get a hoot out of the Great Alaskan Bush Company.

South of Anchorage is the Chugach National Forest. It has some glaciers, great hiking, and is very wild/uninhabited. It is also larger than Vermont.

Seward, Alaska, is a fun little tourist town and seems like it was transplanted from New England. There are more glaciers near there to hike.

Instead of going directly from Tok to Anchorage you go up to Delta Junction first and then down to Anchorage. Delta Junction has a significant Mennonite community and all the local farming / crafts that go with that. In between Anchorage and Delta Junction (a distance comparable to the length of Pennsylvania) are about 4 small towns, the Army's Black Rapids Arctic Combat training grounds and a whole lot of scenic nothing.

If for no other reason, a trip the long-way around into Alaska would cement in your mind that people who talk about global overpopulation are full of it.

Anonymous said...

"Only difference is I'm just better looking that Hugh Jackman."

Also: you're not a closted homosexual in a sham marriage with a dumpy woman 13 years older than you.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know if you plan on leaving firearms at home. I'd love to go across Canada, but don't know if I'd be comfortable in the vast open space with the potential of 2 or 4 legged predators without some protection.

Joe Bar said...

You don't "drive" a motorcycle.

And yeah ADVrider.com has all the info.

Anonymous said...

Americans travelling to Alaska can take their firearms through Canada, albeit with some paperwork.

More info: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110226185812AA7U20k

Reprobus said...

The spur road to Hyder is worth doing if only for the Bear glacier. I had a huge bag of dope in the truck no way I was crossing the border, but still a very nice drive. It doesn't sound like you'll have time to go further. Dress warm, northern BC is colder than the Yukon. Highs of 60, lows can be 45 even this time of year.

From there its a day to Watson Lake, worth visiting the sign forest. Look for the "South to Alaska" highway sign. I got a photo of one somewhere around there. From here the Alaska Highway heads back south through Alberta, might be the nicest circle route if you prefer to avoid backtracking.

From Watson its a day to Dawson City. Nice campground there. Bit of a tourist trap, but had a nice evening at the saloon. Power went out. Bartender lit oil lamps, patrons took turns on the upright. Nice town in a spectacular setting.

The Dawson campground has laundry & greasy spoon w/ hot waitress & car wash and all the fixings, which was nice because I didn't go to Alaska. I turned north just east of Dawson, took the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, then a 20 min charter plane to Tuktuyuktuk. I wouldn't do that one on a bike, but the whole rest of the trip was just getting to the Dempster. 600 miles of dirt road. Lots of bears. Lots of everything. I've swum in the arctic ocean, which is way more fun to say than it is to do.

With a temp permit I'd recommend a Marlin 45-70 guide gun. Lever action. They're light. Kick like a mule but easy to carry. Also common so ammo's easy to find. A lot of people in northern BC and the Yukon will carry an "antique" pistol, which is any pistol made before 1898. Colts and the Webley .455 are popular, but for grizzly and polar bears you really need something more powerful than a pistol. Even a Glock is a last resort. It'll just piss a bear off and few customs officers or RCMP will know about the antique exemption. And you'd have to read and fully understand the Firearms Act, which ain't easy.

If you're tired on the way back down 37 hang a right at Cranberry Junction and take the Nisga'a Highway to Terrace then right again onto the Trans-Canada to Prince Rupert. The ferry south through the inside passage is spectacular if a bit pricey. I'm on Vancouver Island, near the south end. Place to crash if I'm around. 24th-26 I'll be surfing in Tofino. 250-324-TAXI. Between Nanaimo Airport and Duncan. There's a bike shop across the road. Ferry from Victoria to Washington lands an hour and a bit west of Seattle. Cuz you just can't poke enough fun at Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Hyder rocks. Just don't commit any crimes other than partying. keep a lookout for bonfires with the locals down by the dock. great times and great folks. They police their own town and do a good job. no crime at all. everyone is packing.