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2015 North to Alaska /Yukon Caravan Recap June 22 – July 25

Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:06 pm
by bfadmin

For 33 days 21 caravaners in 11 Born Free Motor Coaches traveled 3,600 miles from Dawson Creek, BC up the Alaska Highway and beyond through British Columbia, Alaska, the Canadian Yukon Territory and back to Dawson Creek. We drove over paved, gravel and dirt roads, boated on calm and turbulent waterways and walked on rugged hiking trails to experience the most majestic, beautiful and dense wilderness scenery of this last frontier. Along the way we developed great friendships, enjoyed good meals together, entertained each other around campfires, had delicious cinnamon buns at the Shepard’s Inn, relaxed at Laird Hot Springs, crossed the continental divide, took a 12 hour bus tour of Denali National Park, had a wildlife spotting/glacier viewing cruise out of Valdez, ferried our coaches across the Yukon River, took a relaxing dinner cruise at Dawson City, and had a wildlife spotting/dinner cruise to and from Juneau. We observed breathtaking landscape at almost every turn in the road and/or bend in the river, viewed several massive glaciers and a saw lots of wild life including: bears, bison, caribou, eagles, falcons, geese, fox, goats, lynx, moose, sheep, sea lions, sea otters, whales and a small herd of wild horses. It was indeed an awesome experience and truly an adventure of a lifetime.


On June 22nd we checked-in with our own Bob Newby, expert Alaska caravan guide and longtime Born Free Motor Coach owner, at the Mile “0” RV Park in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada. This was the starting point for our great adventure up the Alaska Hwy and beyond through British Columbia, through Alaska and through the Canadian Yukon Territory. That evening we all met in the park lodge where Bob gave an update on the caravan schedule. Shelly Wilber, Acting Mayor of Dawson Creek and Joyce Lee, Manager of the Dawson Creek Visitors Center graciously gave an excellent presentation on Dawson Creek, the Alaska Hwy and what to expect on the next day’s downtown walking tour.

The next morning we met Shelly Wilber and Joyce Lee at the Dawson Creek Visitors Center for pre-arranged picture taking at the Mile “0” mile post sign. Shelly then graciously led us on a grand walking tour of downtown Dawson Creek. That evening Bob hosted a welcome dinner and answered any remaining questions we had concerning the trip.

On June 24th we rolled out of Dawson Creek heading north on the Alaska Hwy to Watson Lake, Yukon. On the way we ate pastries at Shepherd’s Inn, saw herds of bison and some stone sheep and swam at Laird Hot Springs. The next evening we camped at beautiful Muncho Lake where our musically talented members entertained us around a glowing campfire. We stayed in Watson Lake June 26th and 27th. While at Watson Lake we posted our Born Free Caravan Sign (from the Factory) in the World Famous Sign Post Forrest. Over 78,000 signs from all over the world have been posted in this sign forest since it was started in 1942 by a home sick soldier assigned to help construct the Alaska Hwy.

After crossing the continental divide we were at Whitehorse, Yukon June 30th to July 2nd. We had traveled 875miles. We rode the Street Trolley along the Yukon River, went to see the Frantic Follies, visited the Transportation Museum, The Beringia Interpretive Center, and took the Heritage Walking Tour and participated in many other activities. July 1st was Canada Day (like our July 4th.)

July 3rd we crossed the Canadian/US Border into Alaska and snapped each other’s pictures at the “Welcome to Alaska” sign. At the boundary line is a Canadian/US Boundary Monument and a long bench seat with Canada written on one side and Alaska on the other. The boundary line is kept clear of obstacles so you can see it for miles.

Our first night in Alaska was at Tok where we helped each other wash highway construction mud off the coaches and some of us had a tasty dinner at Fast Eddy’s restaurant. There are only 145 more miles of the Alaska Hwy left. July 4th we arrived at Delta Junction at historic Mile Post 1422 marking the Northern end of the Alaska Hwy and had a quick lunch at the local farmers market. We then took the Richardson Hwy to Fairbanks. Along the way we saw a moose eating in a marshy area, a portion of the Alaskan Oil Pipe line and stopped at North Pole Village, AK to visit Santa Land. After arriving in Fairbanks, some headed over to Pioneer Park for the Salmon Bake and July 4th activities and some went to the Alaska State University Museum.

The next day we took the River Boat Discovery (a paddle wheeler) down the China River to a First Nation Native Village where we walked around to see great narrated demonstrations and listened to stories of their life history. The boat also stopped at the Trail Blazer Kennel where others continue the work of four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Race Susan Batcher, raising and training sled dogs. The rest of the day and the next day were free for sightseeing or side trips. Four people went on the Arctic Circle tour and two people drove to Circle City, Alaska. Others found a variety of things to do.

When we left Fairbanks on July 7th, the air was thick with smoke from a new forest fire. We took the Parks Hwy to Denali National Park and finally drove out of the smoke. The next day we took a 12 hour scenic/wildlife spotting bus tour of Denali. We packed our lunch and boarded the bus and for the next 12 hours we traveled on the narrow, gravel, curvy, bumpy, edge of the cliff road with no guard railing and saw more of Alaska’s stunning untamed tundra wilderness. Awesome! Magnificent scenery, grizzly bears, white Dall rams, caribou, fox, lynx, ground squirrels, red fox and falcons were some of the wild life we saw. The trip was 85 miles deep into the park to Wonder Lake and back (170 miles round trip) Unfortunately, there was too much haze to see Mt. McKinley.

The next day leaving Denali via the Parks Hwy through Wasilla, we took the Richardson Hwy to Valdez passing through some still burning forest areas. July 11th we took the Stan Stevens Glacier Boat Trip from Valdez Harbor thru Prince William Sound to see the Meares Glacier. We saw many sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, orca whales and humpback whales. We were able to get close to the extremely cold glacier and see a lot of the glacier ice breaking off or calving. Awesome sight!

July 12th we were back on the Richardson Hwy heading to Dawson City, Yukon. We overnighted at Tok where we had a Chile dinner and celebrated several birthdays. Later that evening some participated unsuccessfully in the pancake toss to win a free breakfast. The next day we took the Taylor Hwy to the Yukon Border stopping at Chicken, AK for lunch. At the Canadian border the Taylor Hwy turns into the Top of the World Hwy. An awesome road to drive! Curvy, steep grades, gravel (about 40 miles) lots of chuck holes to dodge, dirt, muddy after a rain (and it rained), and absolutely breathtaking scenic landscape.

July 13th we took the ferry across the Yukon River and entered Dawson City. The next morning we were warmly greeted by Peggy Amenbola, Manager of Dawson City Visitors Center who graciously met with us and talked about Dawson City and the many things to see during our visit. Walking around Dawson City was like stepping back into the 1890s (well not quite that far). Front Street was the only paved street in town. The side streets were gravel and dirt with board sidewalks. When it rained it was very muddy and puddles everywhere (it rained). Many buildings were replicas of the original (some were original buildings) from the Gold Rush days, several people were walking around town in 1890’s dress. We had a relaxing dinner cruise on the Klondike Spirit Paddle Wheeler along the Yukon River. Additionally, we saw the Robert Service Cabin (wrote “The Cremation of Sam McGee”), the Jack London Museum (wrote “The Call of the Wild”) and attended a live show at Diamond Tooth Gerties where one member of our group excelled in assisting the performers in one of their acts.
July 16th we are back on the road through Whitehorse to Skagway. We took the Klondike Hwy to Whitehorse (now driving on pavement) and camped at Carmacks where we had dinner at the Gold Panner Restaurant. The next day we crossed the Yukon/Alaskan border again just a few miles from Skagway. During our 2 day stay at Skagway, we took an all-day round trip dinner cruise down the Lynn Canal to Juneau on the Fjord Express Boat. We saw orca whales, humpback whales, seals, sea lions and many eagles. We had lunch at Juneau, walked around town then took a bus ride to the Mendenhall Glacier and back to the boat for a 3 hour trip back to Skagway. The next day some took the breathtaking White Pass & Yukon Route rail road train ride up the mountain to the Yukon Border and back, some went shopping, some took the guided walking tour of town or just relaxed. Some also went near the site of the old abandon town of Dyea and saw salmon swimming upstream on the Taiya River.

July 20th we took the Klondike Hwy to the Alaska Hwy, now starting to retrace part of our route back to Dawson Creek. Along the way back we stopped at Carcross to see the magnificent Carcross Desert, again passed over the continental divide, made a quick stop back at Laird Hot Springs and visited the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum near the Triple “G” Hideaway RV Park where Bob Newby graciously treated us all to dinner. Additionally, we visited a memorial on Charlie Lake honoring workers who lost their lives on the lake due to a boat capsizing during construction of the Alaska Hwy. Along the way we saw a black bear, a heard of bison, some caribou and stone sheep.

Day 33, July 24th we arrived back at Mile “0” RV Park in Dawson Creek. That evening Bob Newby hosted our Farewell Dinner at the RV Park Pioneer Village Restaurant and everyone expressed their great appreciation for the terrific job he did as caravan guide. Also, everyone agreed that while we did not know each other before the caravan, we all were departing the 33 day caravan as great new friends.

Very special thanks to the following:
Bob Newby for his terrific leadership, planning the caravan and making sure all went well;
Jeff Butler, Brandon Dodgen and Born Free Motor Home for their sponsorship of the caravan;
Shaley Wilber, Acting Mayor of Dawson Creek and Joyce Lee, Manager of the Dawson Creek Visitors Center for their gracious welcome and hospitality. (Shaley, your personal tour of the historical Dawson Creek was greatly appreciated);
Peggy Amenbola, Manager of Dawson City Visitors Center for her gracious welcome and hospitality to Dawson City, Yukon. (Shaley and Peggy are both good friends of Bob Newby)

Submitted by: Dee Dee and Nick McClain

Nick and Dee Dee McClain have a total portfolio of 1419 photos in 34 daily Galleries taken on this caravan. You can access these photos by clicking on the following website link: Then when asked, use the following password to access the photos: llrv. Then click on the photo box above identification text - 2015 Alaska Trip. When the photo Galleries for all the days appear, click on the day for which you want to see photos. Then click on the first photo to increase its size. Then click on the right or left arrow to scroll forward or backward through the photos.

NOTE: This topic was posted by Website Administrator (bfadmin-2) for the authors.