American Road Trip

Travel Forums North America American Road Trip

1. Posted by SpailpinFanach (Budding Member 12 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi all

Would appreciate any advice, feedback, information or other comments.

I'm going on an 8 to 10 week trip around N America this autumn.

I'll be flying from Dublin to New York and then taking an elliptical route, by Californian Zephyr train, to West Coast.

I'll spend some time in LA and west coast.

I'll then go by train to connect with Alaska Marine Highway ferries from Bellingham to Whittier and maybe further along route to Dutch Harbour, return by AMH ferries to connect with Canadian rail network

I'd also like to do the Anchorage to Fairbanks train journey.

I'd then like to connect with Canadian rail system and and make my way back to East Coast, and taking in major towns and cities in Canada. I'd hope to get as far north to Nova Scotia as possible.

Then head down south, by train, to New York and fly back to Ireland.

I'm very flexible about time and also open to doing Canadian leg first and finishing with US route. This will be determined by the following :

I really prefer the cold to the heat but willing to spend limited time in warm/hot places. Ice and snow doesn't bother me, much
Bears, you gotta like bears; ideally catching salmon
I'd like to see icebergs, whales and the Northern Lights
I'd like to see the autumnal trees in Eastern states/provinces or New England in the 'Fall'
‎I have some issues with mobility. I can generally scoot around ok for 5 or 6 kilometers, sometimes with the help of a stick. I can't do long or steep hikes

Here are a few other things I’d like as well:

Trip, and even a short one, on a DC3 plane
Chena hot springs
Skagway - White Pass & Yukon Route Railway to Lake Bennett
Juneau for Mendenhall Glacier and tramway up & down Mt Roberts
Denali National Park
Steward for Kenai Fjords National Park

I've done several road trips in the past, mainly in Asia, and have developed a style of travelling where I spend a few days in each place and then move on again. I'm OK with long train journeys. Last autumn, I travelled around Russia on Transsiberian and Baikal Amur Mainline trains and had no problems, apart from a fractured foot!

Based on this, I'm hoping to stop off at between 12 to 15 places with a few longer stays of a week or more.

Any ideas very welcome, particularly around timing.



2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2175 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi Brian.

Sounds like a fun trip and you sound like you know what you're doing.

Your timescale should mean you don't fall foul of US visa issues as you're under 90 days. Likewise an Irish passport should mean no issues in Canada but I think you'll need to get an online ETA before travel - just like an American ESTA.

Depending just when in Autumn you're travelling I'd think you may want to do the Canadian leg first to minimise any travel disruption due to snowfall, and that gets you less Californian heat.

Apart from the major train legs, how will you get about? Public transport in the USA has a reputation for being poor.

3. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1446 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I suspect your itinerary is overly ambitious; and you'll need to have a generous budget. I'm headed to Alaska and Canada in May.

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Mar-2018, at 05:43 by berner256 ]

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member 441 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

honestly it sounds like a lot for 10 weeks. I think you easily can spend half that just covering the things you want to do in Alaska. Also Alaska once you get into September-October is bloody cold and a lot of the easier routes shut down or slow down schedule wise when the tourist season ends. You might easily end up doing a lot of that by bus and finding some of the options for housing limited.

6. Posted by Dymphna (Respected Member 223 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I am trying to get my head around the first part. You said you are flying into NYC and then taking the California Zephyer to LA? You would have to take several trains to get to the Zephyer. Might I suggest going through the south to get to LA and then take the train north to catch the ferries to Alaska. Let me give you an idea of how far this is. This past summer my daughter moved to Anchorage. We drove from Montana to Anchorage and it took us a week of driving 8 to 10 hours a day.

Going across Canada - rent a car. Purchase bear spray in both Alaska and in Canada. You will not be able to take it across the boarder, so just ditch it and purchase new on the other side of the boarder. We saw about 3 bears a day going through the Yukon and BC. While I was in Anchorage for a week, two people were killed by bears. My daughter is a runner and while running in the park in Anchorage another runner coming the other way yelled BEAR to her on the first day we were there. The drive is incredible. DO manage to go through Banff National Park, I have never seen anything so beautiful.

7. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1905 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Depending on what months you think of as Autumn - The train schedule in Alaska stops in the middle of September.

The best time to see the colorful fall foliage in New England is the end of September to the middle of October. After that it will be the 'stick season'

So if you want to go to Alaska before the season shuts down in the fall and also see the foliage in New England, then you can't do both on the same trip by train, even if you go to Alaska in August.

You might be able to fly direct to Seattle-Bellingham in August, and do as much in Alaska as you can during August, and then take the train back across Canada and try to hit northern New England in the middle of September an work your way down to NY.