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Alaska Good Sam Club

Tips for RVing in Alaska


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KELLY BOSTIAN
Staff writer

If the foundation for a good home provides a solid base, electricity, fuel and water service, then the foundation for a recreational vehicle is a level parking spot, available fuel, and those all-important electrical and water "hook-ups."

To be sure, the longer you can travel self-contained in Alaska, the easier your trip. But even those folks with on-board generators and seemingly bottomless water and waste tanks eventually need service. And in Alaska--where the next dump station may be 250 miles down the road--that may take some planning.

Those Good Sam Club and AAA campground directories that are invaluable in the Lower 48 will help drivers find services near city centers in the southern half of the Interior. But take note that the list falls to zero north of Fox, which is at the southern junction of the Steese and Elliott highways. That's only about 20 miles north of Fairbanks.

Call the AAA office in Alaska and they will recommend that those planning to camp outside the city centers pick up a Milepost--the mile-by-mile guide to Alaska roadways printed by Morris Communications. The books are available at book stands throughout the state and can be ordered online at www.themilepost.com. The book lists all parks, campgrounds, and even roadside pull-outs.

RV drivers are wise to stop at the first Alaska Public Lands Information Center they find. There are centers in Tok and in Fairbanks. A little 20-page booklet available through APLIC lists dump stations, propane sources and campgrounds by region. The booklet is available at any of the centers statewide, or by mail. Ask for the "RV Tips: Trip Information Planning Booklet" at the public lands center in Tok or Fairbanks. Call the Fairbanks office at (907) 456-0527 to request a booklet, or write to 250 Cushman St., Suite 1A, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701.

The remote Steese, Elliott and Dalton highways (those roadways north of Fox) lure Interior region RVers. These are roads to be researched before they are driven. Drivers should go prepared for anything. Only two dump stations are available in the 497-mile stretch from Fairbanks to Deadhorse and there are only two service stations. BLM brochures on the Steese, Elliott and Dalton are available at Alaska Public Lands Information Centers, or contact BLM directly at (800) 437-7021.

Or, you can just stop where the road finds you. Numerous scenic pull-outs and rest areas dot Alaska's roadways. It is legal to camp overnight in the pullout if the area is not posted otherwise, according to Alaska State Troopers. State law does require that vehicles are at least 10 feet off the roadway and not posing a traffic hazard of any kind.

Following are a few tips courtesy of the Alaska Public Lands Information Center and learned Alaskan RVers.

LEARN THOSE ROAD NAMES--An Alaskan probably wouldn't know "Highway 6" if it passed outside his door. But if you ask him for directions to the "Steese Highway" he will know exactly what you're talking about.

IN TOWN? DUMP AND FILL--Dump stations and sources of potable water can be few and far between. Plot out these locations on your road map so you have a ready reference. ALWAYS remember to dump before you head out of town.

PULL OVER, BUDDY--Slower vehicles are required by state law to pull over and let others pass if they are impeding more than five vehicles.

WATCH THE ROAD--The folks at Arctic RV and Interior Topper say the most common repairs they see on RVs are broken sewer valves and punctured water tanks--usually courtesy of a sizable pothole somewhere along one of our gravel highways.

NUMBERS TO KNOW--911 will hail emergency services anywhere in the state via cellphone--if you can get a signal. State Troopers also can be reached by dialing 800-811-0911. For road conditions, call the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities at 800-478-7675.