Camping in Alaska

camping alaska

Adventures on Kodiak Island Alaska

Visitors to Alaska who travel to Kodiak Island are surprised to find the multitude of exciting wilderness options that are available. From the moment you touch down in Kodiak you are surrounded by wilderness Alaska. Kodiak is most noted for the large population of Kodiak Brown Bears, the world’s largest land carnivore. Polar bears are considered marine animals and only they are bigger. If you visit Kodiak you will not only have a great opportunity to see Brown bears in the wild but also several different species of whales including humbacks and orcas. The Island also has an enormous population of Sitka Blacktail Deer, Foxes, Bald Eagles, Otters and many more, too numerous to mention.

If fishing is your passion no where is the fishing better or more diverse than on Kodiak. Steelhead and Rainbow Trout frequent many streams and share the waters seasonally with annual runs of Chinook, Pink, Coho and Chum Salmon. When you tire of stream fishing you can move into the salt water for barn door size halibut, rockfish and all of the salmon species. And to make your options more inviting crabs are plentiful around the island also. Check with Alaska Fish and Wildlife for sport fishing permits to catch King, Tanner and Dungeness Crabs. All crabs are are plentiful around Kodiak and can be caught in season with a recreational fishing license.

If you are a sportsman and looking for a diverse opportunity to sample wilderness at it’s most extreme and best might I suggest a trip to Kodiak Island and one one the the local villages around the Island! Kodiak has a road system that covers over 100 miles. For people seeking more adventure flight seeing or a boat charter around the Island will fill the bill.

Don’t forget to think of Kodiak Island when your adventure spirit begins to wander. Kodiak is the premier location for wilderness adventures.

Hot Springs in Alaska

The state of Alaska is home to almost eighty thermal springs, with the greatest concentration located along the volcano line of the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian island chain. Another area of hot springs can be found in the southeastern portion of the state, while other springs are dispersed through the rest of the state. Many of the springs are in their natural state, but in the southeast, many springs have been transformed for ease of use. The areas range in quality from wooden changing stalls to elaborate luxury resorts.

The thermal springs located in Southeast Alaska include:

Baranof Warm Springs: Located to the east of Sitka on Baranof Island at Warm Springs Bay. The springs are situated beside a stunning 100-foot waterfall and surrounded by glacially-fed lakes, rivers, and streams. There are nine springs of varying temperature up to 120-degrees Fahrenheit. The area is accessible by yacht charter and wooden boardwalks connect up the mountainside to the village of Baranof.

Chief Shakes Hot Springs: Found off Ketili River. Often accessed by canoe or kayak from the Hot Springs Slough Route, these springs consist of two hot tubs. One tub is under the trees and has a wooden deck and a changing area. The other is enclosed in screened structure with a changing room. Nearby is a fire pit, picnic table, and outhouse.

Goddard Hot Springs: Located at Hot Springs Bay on Baranof Island. This ancient spring is known for its healing properties. With housing on site since the mid-1800s, the city of Sitka currently maintains two stylish cedar bathhouses Over the hot tubs are shelters which offer both hot water from the springs and cold water. The area is accessible by yacht charter and includes boardwalks and facilities.

Shelokum Hot Springs: Located on the Cleveland Peninsula. The thermal springs can be reached via a 2.2-mile trail that leads from Bailey Bay to Lake Shelokum. The only shelter is a three-sided structure. The springs have not been disturbed and are home to algal plant life.

Trocadero Soda Springs: Located on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island near Craig. This is a carbonated springs, which bubbles and hisses. The area surrounding the spring has a unique landscape of craters and mounds with coloration changing from pale yellow to brick red. Accessible only by boat, the hike to the springs is good for bear-watching, but take extreme caution. The water is said to have “a sharp, pleasant taste” and has no scent.

White Sulphur Hot Springs: Located in the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness. Accessible by yacht charter from Mirror Harbor, the springs are only 0.8 mile hike from the water. Originally named Hoonah Warm Springs, the springs were renamed after a dentist. The bathhouse features a fiberglass screen which allows visitors to enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean while enjoying the hot water soak.

Cold Weather RVing

There are lots of things to do and to see in the wintertime; beautiful winter scenery, snow skiing, hunting, riding snowmobiles and much more. It’s no wonder so many people enjoy using their RV’s year round. When winter approaches each year I get numerous e-mails requesting information about using RV’s in cold temperatures. One reason I haven’t written on this subject in the past is because it would require more than just a short article to thoroughly cover this topic. Another reason for not writing about this in the past is that there are no guarantees that your RV can or will be 100 percent protected from the harsh winter elements by following written advice on the subject.

What I can do is offer you some suggestions and ideas that will help to protect your RV if you plan to use it during the cold winter months. I just can’t guarantee that it will be 100 percent protected. These suggestions and ideas are for short term winter camping in your RV. If you plan to take extended RV trips in cold weather there are many other precautions and measures that need to be considered, like using insulated skirting around the bottom of the RV for example.

One of the first considerations for cold weather RVing is if you will be traveling in temperatures below freezing. If this is the case, and there is water in the RV water system, your plumbing lines or water heater tank could freeze, resulting in costly repair bills, not to mention ruining your winter wonderland RV trip. To avoid this from happening I travel with the water system winterized. It is actually much easier to winterize an RV than most people think it is, and it’s not very expensive either. I have winterized and de-winterized our RV as many as four times in one winter. Note: Our “Winterizing & Storing Your RV” DVD will teach you how to winterize your RV, by yourself, and save money, especially if you enjoy using your RV during the winter months.

The good news is it is still possible to use the bathroom facilities when you are traveling with the RV winterized. We take one gallon jugs filled with water to use in the toilet, and if your holding tanks are not heated you can put some RV antifreeze in the holding tanks to prevent the contents from freezing. Add the RV antifreeze through the toilet for the black water holding tank and down the shower or tub drain for the gray water tank. The antifreeze will also protect the shower or tub P-trap which is usually located below floor level. The amount of antifreeze required for the holding tanks will be based on the size of the tanks, and it will be necessary to add more RV antifreeze as waste water is added to the tanks to prevent the antifreeze from being diluted.

Don’t allow the holding tanks to fill completely, before emptying them, during cold weather camping. This will reduce the chance of freezing, resulting in damage to the holding tanks. Take bottled water along for drinking and other needs like cooking, washing up and brushing your teeth when the RV is winterized. We have a five gallon jug that we always take on trips, filled with tap water from our house, for our pet’s drinking water and our other needs. This comes in handy when the RV is winterized.

When we arrive at our destination I try to select a site that will be exposed to the sun throughout the day, but also where there is some type of wind break available. Position the RV on the site so the front or rear will be facing the brunt of any wind, not the side of the RV. If there is an electrical hook-up I de-winterize the water system so we can use everything. All of the water lines in our motor home are above floor level, in a heated space, so we don’t need to be too concerned about the water system freezing as long as the RV has heat. We leave the water heater turned on whenever the water heater tank is full so there is no chance of it freezing. Some water heaters operate off of LP gas and electricity. Keep in mind if it’s in the electric mode it will use 9 to 13 amps.

It’s important that you know where all of the plumbing on your RV is located. Some RVs have heat ducts going to the basement storage areas where the water system is exposed to outside temperatures, but many RVs do not. If portions of the RV water system are below floor level, in areas that are not heated, it is possible for it to freeze and damage the water lines. If you are hooked up to an external water supply one option is to leave a faucet in the RV dripping, to keep the water moving, and decrease the possibility of water lines freezing. Another option is to use heat tape to protect the exposed water lines. Heat tape can be purchased at most hardware or building supply stores. Make sure it is suitable for the types of water lines in your RV, and if you plan to use it on a water hose.

If it is extremely cold outside and the possibility exists that the outside water supply could freeze, or if the campground water supply is shut off for the winter, I fill our fresh water holding tank and use it for all of our water requirements. Again, keep in mind where your fresh water tank is located; ours is above floor level in a heated area. If the campgrounds shower facilities are still open it’s a good idea to use them to avoid the gray water holding tank from filling so quickly. In this situation it might be in your best interest to keep the RV winterized and just use the campgrounds facilities.