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Old 07-23-2022, 10:00 PM   #1
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Default RV trip from SoCal to North Pole Alaska

We are planning a RV trip from SoCal to North Pole Alaska (near Fairbanks AK. Not the real North Pole, LOL).

Will start around mid August and be back in SoCal around 2nd week of September. Total of about 3 weeks.

Anyone did the drive?

Is 3 weeks time a realistic goal?

Cell coverage during the trip? We have a WeBoost cell extender. Do we need a satellite phone or a PLB for emergencies. We plan to stick to routes with the tourist areas. So will not go too deep off civilizations.

We will be in a new diesel Sprinter RV (rear wheel drive only, not 4X4). It’s summer so hopefully will not encounter any snow??

Any suggestions or advise?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-23-2022, 10:32 PM   #2
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We are planning a RV trip from SoCal to North Pole Alaska (near Fairbanks AK. Not the real North Pole, LOL).

Will start around mid August and be back in SoCal around 2nd week of September. Total of about 3 weeks.

Anyone did the drive?

Is 3 weeks time a realistic goal?

Cell coverage during the trip? We have a WeBoost cell extender. Do we need a satellite phone or a PLB for emergencies. We plan to stick to routes with the tourist areas. So will not go too deep off civilizations.

We will be in a new diesel Sprinter RV (rear wheel drive only, not 4X4). Itís summer so hopefully will not encounter any snow??

Any suggestions or advise?

Thanks in advance.
With a diesel Sprinter, I would say that the most important thing is to make very sure that you have RV towing insurance with (a) unlimited-mile towing and (b) coverage that is valid at all points on your route. If your Sprinter is brand new, the odds are in your favor -- the very-common "leave you stranded" emissions problems seem not to crop up for a year or so, so you are likely to be OK. However, such a failure on your itinerary could be financially ruinous, so going without excellent towing coverage isn't worth the risk IMO.

If it were me, I would not take such a trip in a Sprinter without acquiring and learning how to use a Star Diagnostic computer that is capable of helping in some (but not all) such situations. I have carried such a system ever since my problems started. I also carry spares for the rear wheel sensors, which are another failure-prone component that can strand you, and often have availability problems (at least they used to). Unfortunately, these precautions are more than a bit of a science experiment, and may be beyond the skill of many owners.

There are people who wish to believe that these problems have been fixed in the VS30, but I am unaware of any evidence that this is true. It is basically the same system with a prettier console display. A possible exception is the rear speed sensors--allegedly the problem was identified as moisture intrusion, and a new rev of the part has hopefully addressed the issue.

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer -- your trip sounds awesome and, as I said, the odds are in your favor. Just check that towing coverage!
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Old 07-23-2022, 11:03 PM   #3
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With a diesel Sprinter, I would say that the most important thing is to make very sure that you have RV towing insurance with (a) unlimited-mile towing and (b) coverage that is valid at all points on your route. If your Sprinter is brand new, the odds are in your favor -- the very-common "leave you stranded" emissions problems seem not to crop up for a year or so, so you are likely to be OK. However, such a failure on your itinerary could be financially ruinous, so going without excellent towing coverage isn't worth the risk IMO.

If it were me, I would not take such a trip in a Sprinter without acquiring and learning how to use a Star Diagnostic computer that is capable of helping in some (but not all) such situations. I have carried such a system ever since my problems started. I also carry spares for the rear wheel sensors, which are another failure-prone component that can strand you, and often have availability problems (at least they used to). Unfortunately, these precautions are more than a bit of a science experiment, and may be beyond the skill of many owners.

There are people who wish to believe that these problems have been fixed in the VS30, but I am unaware of any evidence that this is true. It is basically the same system with a prettier console display. A possible exception is the rear speed sensors--allegedly the problem was identified as moisture intrusion, and a new rev of the part has hopefully addressed the issue.

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer -- your trip sounds awesome and, as I said, the odds are in your favor. Just check that towing coverage!
Thanks for the heads up.

Our Roadtrek SS Agile is brand new (on the current new Sprinter generation platform). We bought it last October. The unit is built by the new Ripido company. So it has the two years unlimited mileage warranty (for whatever itís worth). Plus the Mercedes Benz original factory warranty. The RV manufacturer, Ripido has a roadside assistance for two years. Plus we will have the AAA RV roadside assistance. I donít know if there are any towing mileage limitations. I will have to call to verify. The thing worries me is if there is a breakdownÖ..how do we get back to SoCal in a timely fashion??

Another option is to take our other (way more reliable) Lexus LX570 SUV. But itís not an RV.

We also plan to have the Sprinter serviced by the local Sprinter/MB dealer a week prior to our trip.

One of the reasons we wanted to do this RV trip is to do it while the Sprinter RV is new and under warranties.

As far as bring along a Mercedes STAR diagnostic computer is beyond what I wanted to do. Iím very mechanical inclined and can do most simple maintenance myself (and I do them). Maybe I should just do the trip in our Lexus LX570?

Again, thanks for bringing up the towing contingencies plan. You never know when the fancy Merc will act up.
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Old 07-24-2022, 12:32 AM   #4
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It would be a shame not to do this trip in your rig. The Lexus wouldn't be nearly as much fun!

Now that I think of it, you also have towing coverage under your MB warranty. They will take it to the nearest Sprinter dealer, which is what you would need. Just double check that it would work in Canada.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 07-24-2022, 01:08 AM   #5
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It would be a shame not to do this trip in your rig. The Lexus wouldn't be nearly as much fun!

Now that I think of it, you also have towing coverage under your MB warranty. They will take it to the nearest Sprinter dealer, which is what you would need. Just double check that it would work in Canada.

Enjoy your trip!
Thanks for your reply.

So true. Unless we are going to very very deep into no manís wilderness in the winter with all the snow, the Lexus LX570 will be more capable (still needed extensive mods for the snow and ice plus survival kits). We prefer to stick as close civilization as possible.

I will confirm with MB North America Monday and see.

USA AAA RV Premier (not regular AAA and not AAA RV Plus) will tow up to 200 miles and has reciprocal agreements with Canadian AAA. Good Sam RV has no mileage limitations BUT THEY decide where to tow it (to the closest repair shop) which may not be capable of working on a diesel Sprinter. So Iím sticking to my AAA RV Premier.

Plus Roadtrek has road side towing and assistance.

On top of all the above I got the original MB Sprinter factory warranty with towing to the nearest Sprinter service/dealership.
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Old 07-24-2022, 01:32 AM   #6
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Coach-net has unlimited miles and promises to take you to the nearest qualified repair facility, which in the case under discussion means an MB dealer. Covers ALL your vehicles, too.

200 miles is nothing for your itinerary. AAA is pretty worthless IMO.

But, your MB warranty should be fine, so I think you are good, assuming it works in Canada.
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Old 07-24-2022, 01:47 AM   #7
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HahaÖ. No Sprinter dealerships In Alaska!!!!

There are 5 near Vancouver Canada area.

There are 7 in the WA and OR areas.

The factory Sprinter roadside towing will be it or the Roadtrek factory roadside towing. Plus the above post with Coach-net.





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Coach-net has unlimited miles and promises to take you to the nearest qualified repair facility, which in the case under discussion means an MB dealer. Covers ALL your vehicles, too.

200 miles is nothing for your itinerary. AAA is pretty worthless IMO.

But, your MB warranty should be fine, so I think you are good, assuming it works in Canada.
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Old 07-24-2022, 12:25 PM   #8
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Going to Alaska is not easy but entirely worth it. I have been to Alaska in a Sprinter as have several others. Alaska is a huge state with lots to see. Three weeks to me is way too short You might regret the rush up and back. We did the trip in 11 weeks from Late June to the first week in September from Minnesota going up through Banff and Jasper National Parks. From California you will have to take the Cassiar Highway (which, BTW is more remote than the Alcan) up and back to do it in 3 weeks and pick up the Alcan southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon. Once you arrive at Fairbanks you will have seen not much of Alaska. Denali is a must for one and the Kenai Peninsula is another. You just can't do that in three weeks I don't think.

I don't know how much you have already seen going up the coast from Southern California but rushing through most of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and the Yukon which I don't think I could do in 3 weeks is cheating yourself. We spent a week just going up the Alaskan Highway to Fairbanks which I likened to a John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath novel of where you meet people at the Mile One Campground and randomly again in campgrounds migrating north to Alaska--a shared adventure only out of desire and not necessity.

The MiilePost paperback book is a must. Get it, study it before and plan your trip. It is published every year with updates and covers the Alaska Highway and all the rest of Alaska.
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Old 07-24-2022, 12:36 PM   #9
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Is 3 weeks time a realistic goal?
At least 3000 mile each way. Would be 6-7 thousand miles in three weeks? Lots of driving, not much touring.

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Cell coverage during the trip? We have a WeBoost cell extender. Do we need a satellite phone or a PLB for emergencies. We plan to stick to routes with the tourist areas. So will not go too deep off civilizations.
Make sure your cell phone plans cover Canada. Roaming charges could be a killer.
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Old 07-24-2022, 01:41 PM   #10
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I'm sure you're aware that the speed limits in upper BC and Yukon are much lower than in the USA? But the daylight hours are very long so you can make up time. Prepare for long days driving. I found that the drive through Canada was prettier than in Alaska.
IMO 3 weeks is much too short to enjoy the trip other than to say that you drove to Alaska.
There will be many areas where any services are few and far between and cell service will be non-existent. If you have any trouble you will have to flag someone down and wait until they can get somewhere they can send help. That could take a couple days. It might be better to wait until you have a couple months to really see and enjoy the trip.
Either way it is a fantastic trip!
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Old 07-25-2022, 04:03 AM   #11
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So true.

I’m only semi-retired currently so 11 weeks of RVing around will not fit into my schedule YET. Maybe in a few more years.

We’ve seen most of the west coast, including Seattle WA, Portland OR, Victors BC, and Vancouver BC. So maybe just drive straight up to Vancouver BC and go slowly from there?? IDK. OR ship the RV ahead (will cost a bit. But you only live once, right?).

We’ve driven the southern routes from SoCal to FL many many times in the past. We know that part of the country well. Especially the tourist areas with our kids growing up. Been to Key West FL only once long time ago. Although don’t mind going again. But it’s a long way to Key West and back up and out !!!

We’ve driven to AZ/NM/Montana/CO/UT/ND and etc. Just have not driven through Canada to Anchorage, Fairbanks, and etc. Just looking for something different.


BTW, we will have SAT phones and PLB’s for emergencies.


Decisions , decisions, and decisions…….


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I'm sure you're aware that the speed limits in upper BC and Yukon are much lower than in the USA? But the daylight hours are very long so you can make up time. Prepare for long days driving. I found that the drive through Canada was prettier than in Alaska.
IMO 3 weeks is much too short to enjoy the trip other than to say that you drove to Alaska.
There will be many areas where any services are few and far between and cell service will be non-existent. If you have any trouble you will have to flag someone down and wait until they can get somewhere they can send help. That could take a couple days. It might be better to wait until you have a couple months to really see and enjoy the trip.
Either way it is a fantastic trip!
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Old 07-25-2022, 06:04 AM   #12
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We're in Alaska now . . . left Michigan May 9th . . . so clearly we're in Davydd's camp - - three weeks will be a challenge. But just decide on a few important objectives for this trip and save the remainder for that 'revisit' when you have more time.

Don't expect to make-up 'time' by driving fast. In no place have we seen roads that can transition from the 'perfect' to the axel-bending in an instant. We've met two couples this summer who could not stop or otherwise avoid sudden damaged road segments and ended up with broken leaf springs and axels etc. One couple got lucky, they were within walking distance of a logging camp and discovered that one of its members was in a major city picking up supplies . . . a quick phone call and the new leaf spring, axel and other components were hand-carried to their stricken rig within a couple of days.

Keep in touch, maybe we can rendezvous. We're taking the ferry from Whittier on August 8th to Juneau. At some point thereafter we'll have to take the ferry either to Haines or, more likely, to Skagway . . . then we're uncertain whether to head back to the lower 48, or return to Whitehorse (Yukon) and on to Dawson City . . . so our paths could cross.
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Old 07-25-2022, 07:05 PM   #13
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Winston, I wish we were there.
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Old 07-25-2022, 11:15 PM   #14
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I will wave at the Ferry when you pass by my place
On Prince William sound. I can see the Ferry. Cruise ships and other large vessel.when they pass by. It is @ a 30
Minute boat ride to Whittier from where I am at.
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Old 07-26-2022, 12:30 AM   #15
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Winston, I wish we were there.
You know the way . . . :~)
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Old 07-26-2022, 01:46 AM   #16
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HahaÖ. No Sprinter dealerships In Alaska!!!!

There are 5 near Vancouver Canada area.

There are 7 in the WA and OR areas.

The factory Sprinter roadside towing will be it or the Roadtrek factory roadside towing. Plus the above post with Coach-net.
Trailercraft (Freightliner) is a Sprinter dealer in ANC and FBX. There are plenty of Sprinters up here and they are getting serviced at Trailercraft or independent mechanics shops.
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Old 07-26-2022, 02:15 AM   #17
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We are planning a RV trip from SoCal to North Pole Alaska (near Fairbanks AK. Not the real North Pole, LOL).

Will start around mid August and be back in SoCal around 2nd week of September. Total of about 3 weeks.

Anyone did the drive?

Is 3 weeks time a realistic goal?

Cell coverage during the trip? We have a WeBoost cell extender. Do we need a satellite phone or a PLB for emergencies. We plan to stick to routes with the tourist areas. So will not go too deep off civilizations.

We will be in a new diesel Sprinter RV (rear wheel drive only, not 4X4). Itís summer so hopefully will not encounter any snow??

Any suggestions or advise?

Thanks in advance.
As others have posted, 3 weeks is not much time to drive from So Cal to FBX. If your goal is to cover a lot of ground, then this may be for you, but you won't get much of a feel for the many different places you will pass by.

The Alcan and the main Ak HWYs have gravel and frost heave areas where you have to drive more carefully. Cell service will be spotty in places. There are always people passing by. So if you do have an issue, and for some reason don't have cell phone access where you are, these people can get a message out when they get somewhere with cell phone coverage. The people servicing the roads have been doing this for many years, so you will get help. But you may have to wait awhile for help to arrive because the distances are large.

My friends and i have driven all over Alaska and to the lower 48 and none of us would even consider getting a satellite phone for travel on the AK road system. We are old enough that much of this driving was done before cell phones, and it always turned out fine. And you will have a nice new rig in good repair. Don't sweat it.

A two wheel drive Sprinter will be fine, even if it does snow. Plenty of people up here have two wheel drive vehicles.

One thing to consider is to take the ferry one-way from Bellingham or Prince Rupert to Haines. My best trip back up to AK included a ferry ride and it was a nice way to travel. This adds variety to your travel - after driving so many miles through black spruce swamp and birch uplands, the coastal cities along the ferry route are a nice change.
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Old 07-28-2022, 04:21 PM   #18
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Drove from Dallas to Alaska in roadtrek 190P 2000 model in 2006. Thru Banff and Jasper Parks. Seven weeks and that was too short. For sure take the trip, but take more time if possible. enjoy!
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Old 07-28-2022, 05:03 PM   #19
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We live in Tahoe. Takes 6-7 days to get to Fairbanks, just past North Pole. Made the trip many times direct, not touring until we made it to Denali. Long days driving. As most agree, 3 weeks isn't worth the trip.
Take Alcan return Ferry, or vice versa. Prince Rupert is a good way to go for ferry.
If you are adventurous grab a lounge chair in the solarium and sleep up there. You will meet lots of interesting people but watch your valuables. Could be the highlight of the trip.
Don't forget to stop at Liard's Hot Spring on the Alcan.
Might consider taking Hwy 97 into Canada, less traffic. Probably quicker.
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Old 07-28-2022, 05:34 PM   #20
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And make a sign to hang in the signpost forest. Amazing place!
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