Planning Alaska: Vanimal's First Trip

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Planning Alaska: Vanimal's First Trip

We don't expect to find any Bonanza Gold, but we are definitely heading north to Alaska in search of great sights, succulent crab and new trails and adventure all along the way!  And while we might not experience Alaska the same way Johnny Horton or John Wayne did, you better believe every bit of the way will be entertaining and full of improv.

It's the beginning of February and we are already outlining our first trip in Vanimal - our converted Mercedes Sprinter van (still in the works).  Get to know Vanimal by reading through her conversion stages: Part 1 & Part 2.


Colorado Springs, CO > Fairbanks, AK

From Colorado Springs, we will be taking the northern route - skipping into Wyoming - to head through Salt Lake City.  Literally, there is a killer sandwich shop called Feldman's in SLC that we are prioritizing on our journey towards the PNW.  This is one of our favorite eateries... and we eat at a lot of unique places.

From SLC, we will travel towards Tacoma, hit Seattle (and a few of its local hotspots), throw the bikes around with some friends in Bellingham and then shoot up to Whistler!  Haven't been to Whistler yet, so we are so stoked.  

After a couple days at the infamous BC bike park, we will head north through Prince George, BC.  This is where things get interesting and our options are open to improvisation: to bike, or not to bike on the way to Alaska?  Save the dirt for the way home or half and half it?  Hmmm...

Places to possibly hit the trails or vote to save for the return drive:

  • Prince George
  • Smithers
  • Whitehorse

Finally, we will cruise into Alaska (via the Alcan Highway), through the Tanana Valley State Forest, landing at our destination: Fairbanks. 

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Our anticipated time frame for this road trip is the end of June through first week of July (six weeks).  According to our Google Maps route, our trip out will take approximately 64 hours, just over a week if we were to average 8 hours a day of driving.  We will be allotting ourselves about two weeks to reach Fairbanks, because friends and trails!  The first half of this trip we will be covering a total of 3,569 miles on our route from COS to Fairbanks! 


Vanimal's gas tank holds an approximate 26.4 gallons of diesel fuel.  With our full conversion we are guesstimating about 18 MPG on the highways.  Since we are cutting through Canada, we have to consider their rates as well; don't worry we did the math for you:

$3.07/gallon: This is the current national average for diesel fuel in the United States... in U.S. dollars.  Of our total mileage to Fairbanks, we will spend 2,370 miles on the U.S. dollar.

$1.29/liter: This is the current average across British Columbia for diesel fuel.  Of our total mileage Fairbanks, we will spend 1,199 miles on the Canadian dollar- and liter.  




Just like planning for a weekend bike trip, there are certain necessities you know you have to have with you: bike pump, spare parts, tools, helmet and so on.  On a month-plus road trip there are even more necessities!  We know we have a ways to go on this list, but this is what we have on our radar so far:

  • Milepost Alaska book: currently this book is on pre-order (done) as they gather their 2018 insights.  This particular book updates ever year, making edits and adding new info.  This thing has been referred to as "legendary," guiding its readers through Western Canada and Alaska.  It covers topics like traveling - specific to your mode of transportation, camping (free and otherwise), lodging and of course, recreation.  We are stoked to use this as our daily reader on this adventure! 
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  • Bear Spray: yeah, you better believe it.  If Hollywood teaches you one thing, it's that bears don't fuck around.  So, it goes without saying to pack the best.  Through initial research, we are banking on Frontiersman Bear Spray.  With close to 5-stars, we have this in the cart based on its portability, strength and max range (distance).
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  • Bug Spray: MOSQUITOES - enough said.  We will be traveling during prime season, so we opted for REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Spray.  Why?  Well just look at the reviews...
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  • Jump Battery: for far less than $100, the Beatit 800A Peak 12V car jump starter offers all the bells and whistles.  This thing offers up to 30 jumps, comes with heavy duty clamps and cables, lots of "protection" and can even fit in the glove box!  It can jump up to a 5.5L diesel engine, has a 18000mAh battery capacity and has built in USB ports to charge your devices.  There's more too!  Click the link to read up.
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  • Axe: nothing expresses the outdoors and adventure like an axe.  More importantly, nothing spooks a crook like one either.  Plus, we don't want to deal with the regulations of crossing borders with a firearm.  The multi-functionality of the Council Hudson Bay Tool is legit for splitting wood, Valentine's Day gifts*, handy work and making you look tougher.  OBVIOUSLY.
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    We are getting a head start on our road trip for our June departure.  There is a lot to consider and even more to not forget!  While we have our necessities list started - and we know there is plenty more to add - the other lists we expect to create and plan for include:

    1. The girls (dogs)
    2. Food/Cookware
    3. Camping gear
    4. Clothing
    5. Booze?
    6. Camera gear
    7. Bike gear
    8. ........ anything else?!



    As you can see we have a long ways to go!  In the posts to come we will cover the return trip (yes, it's different), items added to the essentials list and all those other considerations. Can you feel the stoke yet?

    As always, we are open to feedback, questions and suggestions!  Just leave them in the comments below.  In the meantime, happy riding!








    • Ride Atire

      For those following the journey and these comments… the Frontiersman Bear Spray is a Sabre product, and per their website, “SABRE’s manufacturing facilities are both EPA and Health Canada certified, meaning our customers can count on effective and humane products. Deter aggressive bears without long-term pain or injury!” Should be good to go!

    • Mountain State Sprinter

      The van is coming together nicely! Stay tuned for more pictures. We might be able to send you something tonight!

    • Ride Atire

      T – thanks for the info! We will look into the trails and do more research on the bear spray. That was a great point!

    • T

      Leave you bear spray on the US side and buy fresh in Canada. It’s considered a weapon in Canada. Also, check our Montana Mountain near Carcross south of Whitehorse for breathtaking bike trails. You won’t regret it! Bon voyage!

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