Alaska is a camper’s paradise, with its rugged natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure. For those looking to explore the Last Frontier by camper van, there are a few key things to consider. This guide covers everything you need to know about outfitting and enjoying an Alaskan camper van adventure.
Choosing a Camper Van
The first decision is what type of camper to use for your Alaskan road trip. Here are some top options:
- Pop-up campers – These compact, fold-out campers offer versatility and affordability. Their small size makes them fuel-efficient and easy to maneuver on winding Alaskan roads. However, they offer limited living space and protection from the elements.
- Van conversions – Converting a van into a camper allows complete customization. From simple bed platforms to fully-equipped kitchens and bathrooms, van conversions can be tailored to your exact needs. The downside is the time and effort required for the conversion.
- Purpose-built campervans – These ready-made campers are specifically designed for the rigors of camping. They offer ample living amenities while being engineered for life on the road. The streamlined nature can reduce overall versatility.
- Truck campers – For those with 4×4 trucks, truck campers are a popular choice. They combine robustness and cargo capacity with compact living quarters. However, truck campers do raise your center of gravity when driving.
No matter which camper type you choose, be sure to consider factors like gas mileage, driving range, insulation, and off-road capability for your Alaskan adventure. Test drive different models to find the best blend of comfort, performance, and ease-of-use.
Outfitting Your Camper
Once you’ve selected the perfect camper, it’s time to outfit it for off-grid Alaskan travel. Be sure to pack:
- Cold weather gear – Pack layered clothing, winter boots, hats, gloves, and heavy jackets for all passengers. Temperatures can swing rapidly in Alaska even during the summer.
- Emergency equipment – Carry a first aid kit, flares, blankets, and other emergency gear at all times. Also pack extra water, non-perishable food, and sleeping bags.
- Cooking supplies – Include a camp stove, fuel, cooking utensils, plates/cups, and dish soap. Proper hygiene and cleanup are crucial when camping.
- Camp lighting – Flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps will keep your camp illuminated in Alaska’s long summer nights. Bring extra batteries.
- Camp chairs & tables – Lightweight, portable chairs and tables allow you to comfortably relax at your campsite. Look for compact, stashable models.
- Camping tools – Pack a hatchet, axe, saw, multi-tool, duct tape, and other handy tools for collecting firewood and solving unexpected issues.
With the proper gear and supplies, your Alaskan camper will have everything you need for an epic on-the-road adventure. Make sure to check local regulations on firearms, fishing, and other activities you may want to pursue.
Finding Campsites & Services
One challenge of camping in Alaska is the scarce services and campgrounds, especially in remote areas. Plan your route in advance to identify where you can:
- Refill water tanks – Carry adequate water for stretches between sources. Use maps to locate potable water access.
- Dump waste – Most campsites offer dump stations, but they are limited. Consider composting or portable toilets.
- Get fuel – With Alaska’s vast distances, maximize your camper’s range between fill-ups when possible.
- Access supplies – Stock up on groceries, camping gear, and other supplies in larger towns. Pickup mail-order packages at post offices.
- Find campsites – Reserve private campgrounds in advance. For dispersed camping, check regulations and practice Leave No Trace principles.
Being self-sufficient and flexible will allow you to safely camp off-grid. Consider joining RV clubs like Harvest Hosts for more options. Apps like AllStays are helpful for locating campgrounds on the fly.
Enjoying Your Alaskan Camper Adventure
Once your camper is prepped, the open roads of Alaska await. Here are some tips for making the most of your trip:
- Drive Alaska’s iconic highways – Cruise scenic routes like the Dalton, Denali, and Glenn highways at a leisurely pace. Stop frequently for photos and hikes.
- Explore national parks – Hike and camp inside legendary parks like Denali, Gates of the Arctic, and Wrangell-St. Elias. Look for ranger-led programs.
- Go wildlife viewing – Spot Alaska’s famed megafauna, like bears, moose, whales, and bald eagles. Keep a respectful distance.
- Fish for salmon and halibut – Cast a line into Alaska’s phenomenal fishing waters. Make sure to acquire proper licenses.
- Visit historic sites – Dig into Alaska’s rich history and culture at sites like Native villages, the Alaska pipeline, and gold rush-era towns.
With endless natural beauty and excitement, an Alaskan camper trip promises to be an experience like no other. By properly preparing, you can maximize every magical moment on the open road. Let your Alaska camper adventure begin!