Time to Plan Your Trip To Alaska is NOW!


If you do plan on going to Alaska in the Summer of 2014 promise us you will ride this road….take a look at one of our posts from our trip in 2011….if you don’t want to read the entire post scroll down to the McCarthy-Kennicott section…you will thank us if you ride this road…;-) Many pass up this little side trip and we don’t know why.  If you have been on this road feel free to comment.

July 27th 2011

It was a good thing we decided to motel it last night.  It poured in Valdez all night.  As for Cheryl and myself we do not feel the need to camp in the rain on a holiday because, well, it just makes us miserable and not worth it.  Our trucker neighbour finally settled down in his room around 12.  Motel walls are so thin!  When we woke up it was really foggy but you could see the sun.  Had a bite to eat at the motel restaurant and headed out to the Salmon Hatchery about 5 miles out of Valdez to see if there were any bears or otters around.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (132)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (133)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (134)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (135)

Ms. Peggy at the Salmon Hatchery. She wanted one of us to get in the picture with her,  but Leslie was holding the camera and Cheryl was a wee bit tentative of her!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (1)

Ton’s or REDS (Sockeye), have arrived this season but no bears for us to see, only one or two sea otters, no sea lions and only 3 Bald Eagles.  The tide was coming in and I guess if we waited longer we might have been able to catch a bear or two but we had to get going.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (3)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (4)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (5)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (6)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (7)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (9)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (10)

Cheryl July 27 11 (15)

Cheryl July 27 11 (12)

Fancy outhouses at the Hatchery

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (13)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (15)

The ride through the Thompson Pass to get to the interior was beautiful.  Nice twisty roads, views to die for as usual and great weather.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (16)

Waterfalls are a dime a dozen up here.  All coming down from the 100’s if not thousands of glaciers Alaska has to offer.  Glaciers are everywhere.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (17)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (18)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (19)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (20)

Cheryl July 27 11 (1)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (22)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (24)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (26)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (27)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (28)

It looks like rain but it never amounted to anything!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (29)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (30)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (31)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (32)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (35)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (36)

Cheryl July 27 11 (3)

We love this picture!

Cheryl July 27 11 (4)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (33)

a very lonely alpine flower

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (37)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (40)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (42)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (43)

getting better with the on the fly shots.  Keeping the camera more level.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (44)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (45)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (46)

The owner of the gas station was cute, came out an offered to fill our tanks but when I said no thanks we can do it, he looked relieved.  When I went in to pay the smell of cinnamon buns was amazing.  We still have not had any buns up here yet.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (47)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (48)

Blue skies!!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (49)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (50)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (51)

This is the little store and burger shack right at the turn off for the McCarthy road.

Cheryl July 27 11 (8)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (52)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (53)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (54)

McCarthy is also the gateway to America’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias, an untamed wilderness of 17,000-foot peaks and Dall sheep-covered mountainsides. We did not see any though.  One of the many glaciers, Root Glacier, spills over a 6,000-foot headwall into the heart of town.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (55)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (56)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (57)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (58)

The McCarthy road is a great 60 miles of a mixture of dirt, clay, crushed gravel, large rocks, tons of small, medium and  large pot holes and lot’s of fun.  The first 5 miles or so there was very deep crushed and large gravel laid down.  It was quite deep in some areas and I thought to myself if all 60/120 miles round trip were going to be like this it could make for a very long day.  Luckily the gravel was not so deep all the way up to the town.  But, if anyone likes dust on dry days and some decent off pavement riding, ride this road.  We went up and back in one day easily.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (59)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (60)

Cheryl July 27 11 (9)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (62)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (64)

This stuff makes for an interesting ride.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (66)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (67)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (68)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (69)

Little worried about the dust and our past bike issues.  We will keep an eye out for any hints of stalling.  So far so good since Anchorage.  Not one stall for either of us.  The Tigers are really an amazing bike!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (70)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (71)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (73)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (75)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (78)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (80)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (81)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (83)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (86)

As you can see from the pictures, this bridge has a nice big rut straight down the center. There are no warning signs for motorcyclists and it could be potentially disastrous if one got a tire stuck in that rut!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (87)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (88)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (92)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (93)

Pedestrian bridge that takes you to the McCarthy side.  No vehicles can cross over this other than ATV and motorcycles.  The “town” is a pretty long walk after you even get over this bridge so there is a shuttle service than can help cager’s out.  Kennicott is 4.5 miles from McCarthy to the left and the attraction is a once-staid mining camp and is now Alaska’s most fascinating ghost town.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (94)

Root Glacier!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (95)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (96)

The Town of McCarthy.  Very, Very small.  Weird vibe, almost like a movie set but there are people who love it here and run businesses.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (97)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (98)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (99)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (100)

Inside the General Store and it is very cute and looks new.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (103)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (104)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (105)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (101)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (102)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (107)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (109)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (113)

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July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (117)

Heading back over the pedestrian bridge from our short visit to McCarthy.

Now pay attention!  If you are ever up this way do not do what we did.  We did not gas up before we headed up the McCarthy road.  We got up top, there is NO gas and it was only 4.5 miles to Kennicott and we did not go because of fear of running out of gas.  We had a little over 100 KM’s to do before gas in Chitina, going to Kennicott would have added another 9 miles to our tanks and we only had 129 KM’s left according to our gauge. Not willing to risk running out of gas and having to rely on others we skipped the mine. Boo!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (118)

Cheryl July 27 11 (10)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (119)

Then we were going to stay at the Glacier View campsite but also decided to pass and head out of the McCarthy road and find camping down in the valley somewhere.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (120)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (121)

This is the Glacier View camp ground’s outhouse.  Another real literal stinker.  You also felt like you were going to tip into the river it was leaning so much.  Next to the toilet is a shower.  At least the owner has provided indoor plumbing of sorts.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (123)

Not many pictures on our way out because my battery for my camera was running low.  I had a feeling we would not have electricity this night so I wanted to spare the battery until I knew where we would end up for the night.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (124)

In the above picture is Sunshine.  She and I think her husband live on this 1 1/4 acre property and opened up a Trading Post store about a year ago.  She is located about 30 miles in on the McCarthy road after it turns to dirt.  They have no electricity or indoor plumbing/running water.  They get their water from the river and use a generator.  Great little store and Sunshine has a little of everything from tire repair stuff to food.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (126)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (125)

Stop by her store if you are in this neck of the woods. Sunshine was very sweet and even offered us a free beverage.

After we got out of the road we were told of free camping by the mining bridge.  We first got gas and some snacks in Chitina and then were told the free camping is full of fishermen who like to party after their day out.  We were not into that even if it was free.  Then we headed to a RV camping site by the “airport”.  That did not have a good feel either.  Cheryl took a walkabout this seedy little campground and saw a bunch of broken beer and liquor bottles and said “NO way are we staying here.”  Off we went yet again in search for a place to camp and by this time it was about 1900 hrs.  We stumbled across the State Park Liberty Falls and it was perfect.  Running stream and small.  Only a few campers and even platforms for our tent.

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (127)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (128)

Liberty campground (1)

Liberty campground (6)

Liberty campground (7)

Liberty campground (3)

No electricity but they have a pump for fresh water!

Liberty campground (2)

Throughout the trip every  once in awhile I need to use our invertor to charge things like our headsets and camera or even the computer.  I have been using this off both bikes battery and being mindful not to drain the batteries as well.  So far it has been working out great.  No issues with starting the bikes and we get things charged enough for the day.

Liberty campground (4)

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (130)

Liberty campground (5)

Thanks to the freezing cold stream our beer was able to be chilled for us by the time we were ready to drink it. Natures refrigerator!

July 27 11 Valdez to Chitina (131)

We met a really nice family from Kansas City and Texas.  They asked about our bikes, we told them we were riding with Triumph and to raise awareness for Autism.  They offered cold beers and were just genuinely interested in where we have been and where we were going.  Nice folks.  The Patriarch Tom said this campground was flooded years ago and the landscape has changed a lot since then.  He and his wife have been coming up here for 30 years from Kansas City.  I was supposed to take their picture but never did.

Cheryl July 27 11 (2)

11 thoughts on “Time to Plan Your Trip To Alaska is NOW!

  1. D. Ford November 23, 2013 / 4:28 AM

    Great post and beautiful photos. I would really enjoy that ride, but probably not a good idea on my big Harley. Thanks for sharing. I’m so jellous right now that I don’t have a bike that can go down those unpaved and rocky roads.

    • advgrrls November 23, 2013 / 4:31 AM

      Alaska no matter where you go is hard on an HD bike. Met a few riders up there that wished they never rode their beautifully chromed bikes on Alaskan roads…I hated hearing regrets. One guy bought a totaled HD, rebuilt it for his trip to the Tundra and he had NO regrets…did not care what happened to his bike and LOVED it. I do recommend riding a bike that can take the roads and not do too much damage.

  2. Barbra & Jack Donachy November 23, 2013 / 11:22 AM

    We went over to Chitina last year on our way to dip-netting for red salmon in the Copper River. Along the way, got to reading about the McCarthy area and are determined to go over there now. Thanks for the inspirational post!

    • advgrrls November 24, 2013 / 8:29 PM

      you won’t regret it

  3. Garth November 23, 2013 / 11:59 AM

    Missed this portion on our trip. The Thompson pass out of Valdez was spectacular. When we got to the road there was a huge storm coming in and it was forecast to settle in for a few days. Missing that is one of the few regrets I have about our trip. Go back one day? Maybe but still lots more to see.

    • advgrrls November 24, 2013 / 1:07 PM

      Next time you have to ride it

  4. RichardM November 23, 2013 / 4:49 PM

    The trip into McCarthy and Kennicott mine is one of the best, not to be missed trips. The first time I went out there was in 1987 which was way before the bridge into McCarthy was there. You had to pull yourself across the two rivers on a hand trolleys suspended above the water. And the mine was almost untouched back then.

    • advgrrls November 24, 2013 / 1:07 PM

      I know it’s one of the best, why do you think so many skip it?

  5. Texas Rambler November 24, 2013 / 11:31 AM

    WOW, What a great ride… I’m ready to go… Thanks for all the great pictures…

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