It seemed like the more we saw in Alaska the more amazing it was. Perhaps that is because we did the Kenai Peninsula at the end of our trip. From Haines, we loaded Monty and Mulligan onto a state ferry. Juneau is only accessible by water or air despite being the state capital! The downtown area in the summer is simply cruise ship tourist mania! We avoided that like the plague, but there were plenty of other cool things to see.
6 times the size of Yellowstone National Park! Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is 6 times the size of Yellowstone and we had to drive around it to get to Haines. And that doesn’t include Kluane National Park in Canada, which is more than double the size of Yellowstone!
Cooper Landing was our next stop. Kenai Lake (beautiful green water) flowing into the Kenai River, is another popular area when the salmon are running. It is also a common place to see bears and other wildlife.
30%-ers – That is what they call the lucky few that get to actually *see* Denali while at the National Park – and we did! And moose.. There were a fair number of moose around the entrance area which always causes what we call “being Yellowstoned” – stuck in traffic as some other tourist tries to get a picture of a far off animal.
To get out of Dawson City toward Alaska, you have to take a small ferry across the Yukon River. This puts you on the start of the “Top of the World” Highway. Coincidently, the John and John canoe team that we had dinner with the previous night rode the same ferry with us!
We crossed the border into Alberta, Canada with no issues. We had heard stories from other RVers and even Jeff’s grandfather, who used to fish in Canada, about hours-long searches. We drove through a lot of rolling farmland and got to Waterton Lake, the Canadian side of Glacial National Park. Our campground was right in the middle of the park, only a few blocks from downtown, but also right on the lake. The view was gorgeous!
We’ve made the drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff a number of times, but we are still amazed by the effects on vegetation we see as the elevation changes: suddenly, there are Saguaros, then there are not. Then fields of dessert flowers, then not. Then forests as you pass through Flagstaff, then they mostly disappear into the desolation of northern Arizona.
To cross the Colorado River east of the Grand Canyon we went across the new Navajo Bridge over the Marble Canyon. The original bridge is still there, so you can stop and walk across it. Some 466′ above the river!
Our original plans were to head to Park City for a couple of months before continuing north. I guess this is a good time to tell you we are both taking 3 months off from work to drive through Alaska this summer! That’s why Sue has been working full time since last fall as a compensation to her employer. However, due to being assigned a 2.5 month job in Mesa (near Phoenix), we decided to go stay there. Well, it was interesting. More on that later…The drive from Denver to Phoenix took two full days. The first was 480 miles from Fort Garland, CO to Flagstaff, AZ – our longest day drive yet. Crossing the continental divide is always stressful but beautiful.