Alaska: The numbers

And now, the numbers you’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least some of you have. And even if you weren’t really curious, I think trips of this length deserve a little numeric introspection.

First off, the miles.

14,024 miles. If there were a road to China, I could’ve driven there. And back.

19 states and three Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory).

Roughly this route:

Amount of Fuel

881 gallons of diesel over 65 fill-ups. The average distance between fill-ups was 221 miles. Once, I pushed it to 402 miles, getting within 2.5 gallons of empty. In Alaska, I was so cautious, and made paranoid about the scarcity of gas stations, I made a 5-gallon fill-up. Probably not necessary.

Ever seen on of these on a diesel pump? Neither had I.

I averaged 16.5 mpg overall. Now that I’ve really done the math, it’s slightly lower than what I thought. That’s probably due to the VW Touareg TDI recall. Cleaner engine = less MPG.

Cost of Fuel


Highest price: $5.29/gallon of diesel. On the Dalton Highway in Coldfoot, Alaska. Priced for its isolation, and the sense of relief drivers feel at finding any gas at all along that road.

Lowest price: $2.97/gal. In my home state of Delaware, just a few miles from home.

Cost of Camping


Average cost per night (69 nights): $17.50

I realize that not everyone has relatives with camp-able yards and driveways strategically located across North America like I do. If I take out the “friends and family” camping discount (10 free nights) the average rises to $20.51/night.

Highest cost per night: $45.85 (Riverview RV Park, North Pole, Alaska) and $47 (Del Valle Regional Park, Livermore, CA)

Lowest cost per night (except $0 boondocking): $6.00 (Buffalo Gap Campground, Sentinel Butte, North Dakota).

Some states grab you by requiring a state-wide permit/registration fee, in addition to the per-night camping fee. It’s priced even higher if you’re from out of state. I’m lookin’ right atcha, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Your Jell-O-based salads and delicious cheeses don’t fool me. I’m on to you.

I bought annual passes for the national parks systems in both Canada ($55.22: Discovery Pass) and the USA ($80: America the Beautiful Pass). They paid for themselves over the course of the trip.

ReserveAmerica, and vendors like them, also take their cut. Usually $5-$7 per reservation.

The gory details:

$20: Blue Heron Service Plaza, Ohio Turnpike
$108: Yellowstone Lake State Park, Blanchardville, WI (2 nights)
$28 ($21 camping + $7 MN state park reg): Myre-Big Island State Park
$16.75 ($12+tax & transaction fee): Wagner Park Campground Barnesville, MN
$30: Lindenwood Campground, Fargo, ND
$30: Lindenwood Campground, Fargo, ND
$6: Buffalo Gap Campground, Sentinel Butte, North Dakota
$17.34 (Can$24): Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Elkwater, Alberta, Canada
$75.14 ($22.92 camping + $55.22 annual park pass): Two Jack Main Campground, Banff, Alberta, Canada
$16.36: Protection Mountain, Banff National Park
$16.36: Protection Mountain, Banff National Park
$15.19: Swan Lake Provincial Park Campground, Peace River, British Columbia
$16: Tetsa River Regional Park Campground
$0: Top Secret Campground between Teslin, YT and Watson Lake, BC
$0: Donjek River Bridge, Yukon
$20: Chena Lake Recreation Area, North Pole, Alaska
$0: Five-Mile Campground, Coldfoot, Alaska
$0: Five Mile Campground, Coldfoot, Alaska
$15: Whitefish Campground, Elliott Highway, milepost 11
$91.71 (2 night total): Riverview RV Park, North Pole, Alaska
$25.68: Denali Outdoor Center, Otto Lake, Alaska
$25.68: Denali Outdoor Center, Otto Lake, Alaska
$25.68: Denali Outdoor Center, Otto Lake, Alaska
$0: Moochdocking in Wasilla, Alaska (2 nights)
$20: Bird Creek Campground, Chugach State Park
$20: Bird Creek Campground, Chugach State Park
$0: Rufus Creek Wayside, Nabesna Road, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
$0: Kluane Lake, roadside pullout
$60 ($30/night): Oceanside RV, Haines, Alaska
$0: Skagway roadside
$10: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Campground
$0: French Creek Campground, Cassiar Highway, BC, Canada
$0: Kitwanga Municipal Campground, Kitimat-Stikine, BC, Canada
$13.78: Lac La Hache Provincial Park Campground, Caribou, BC
$0: (2 nights) Mom & Dad’s front yard, Winlock, WA
$30 ($15/night x 2): South Beach Campground, Olympic National Park, Washington
$0: (3 nights) moochdocking at mom & dad’s, Winlock, WA
$0: moochdocking, Uncle Von’s lawn, Toledo, WA
$78 ($26 x 3): Top Secret Central Oregon Coast National Forest Service campground
$40.50: Crescent City KOA
$43: Anthony Chabot Campground, Oakland, CA
$105: ($43 + $31 + $31) Anthony Chabot Campground, Oakland, CA
$98 (2 nights): Del Valle Regional Park, Livermore, CA
$40 (2 nights): Deadman Campground, Kennedy Meadows, Tuolumne County, CA
$0: Uncle Wally and Aunt Linda’s driveway, Yerington, NV
$15: Great Basin National Park, Upper Lehman Creek Campground, Nevada
$0: River Ford Cathedral Valley
$0: Urban camping on the streets of Golden, CO
$26: Moraine Park Campground(Rocky Mountain National Park)
$0: Cambridge City RV Park (Cambridge, NE)
$32.10: Little Bear Campground, West Liberty, IA
$0: Airstream Factory Terraport, Jackson Center, OH

The Grand Total

Getting at a grand total is a little difficult.

Food cost varies. I didn’t eat out much, and shopped ahead as much as I could at the bigger stores. I don’t see this as an expense any different that staying at home, so I’m not going to include it.

Equipment and maintenance. I traded in my 2014 VW Touareg for a 2016 just before the trip. For a little peace of mind. I had to do a 10k service, and add oil and adBlue along the way. I brought tools, spare tires, a portable washing machine… All of these expenses will vary depending on the type of traveler you are. I don’t use a surge protector. I don’t bring a generator. There’s almost nothing I bought specifically for this trip. I have items I use on all my trips. I have repairs to the trailer I made, and will need to have done. How much? I dunno yet.

Tolls. There were a few tolls. I avoided toll roads when I could. In Pennsylvania, they’re hard to avoid. I paid dearly for the Ohio Turnpike for my 2-axle trailer. And Illinois around Chicago. Don’t even get me started…

So, at it’s most basic, here’s what this trip cost.

$3,100.50 diesel
$1,210.27 camping fees

$4,310.77 ($62.48 per day)

Worth it?


After re-reading through the blog to cull these numbers, yes.

After seeing all the family and friends I visited, and shared legs of the trip with, yes.

After viewing photo after photo of North America’s finest natural wonders, yes.

Every day since I’ve returned from the trip, something I see in my daily life jogs my memory back to some aspect of the trip. Makes me smile, remember a camping neighbor, or a wild animal I saw. A sunrise. A smell. A sound.

So, yes.

Worth every penny.

6 thoughts on “Alaska: The numbers

  1. This is wonderful! Not only informative, but eye opening. You’ve done a lot of work in addition to a lot of travel. Thank you. Feel like this cries to be shared. Glenn

  2. I sure enjoyed following your travels!! Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us!!! Glad you made it home safely!

  3. 11/4/18
    Yes, worth every penny and I’m happy to see the total is less than I expected – hooray! Thank you for our vicarious adventure with you – it was wonderful.
    Love, Mom & Dad

  4. Great post! We started and ended just outside KC, MO, and spent about 108 total days on the road. Our costs, all inclusive averaged $150/day. Included in our Alaskan portion was a flight from Fairbanks to Bettles, with visits to Gates of the Arctic, and Kobuk Valley NP’s.

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