Bikerafting Alaska – Eagle Circle

Bikerafting Alaska: How to visit remote regions?

Yukon Bikerafting
Yukon Bikerafting

Photos and story by Zachary Tourville

How to visit remote Alaska was a question that plagued me since my arrival to that state a year ago. On my first visit to Alaska, before actually living here, just traveling the roads felt remote. The reality, however, is that there are few roads in Alaska, and the majority of the landscape must be reached by air, river or overland during winter.

The logistics of river travel can be daunting: A point to point car shuttle requires both parties to travel each section of road three times (that’s a lot of driving). Alternatively, one can be dropped off and picked up by a plane – an option I plan to use in the future, but one that for me at this time, felt too easy. I wanted to do it myself. Leave from my front yard and return under my own power. Traveling by bike with a lightweight packraft opens up a number of possibilities for loops, small and large, from Fairbanks. The route Fairbanks –> Eagle –> Circle –> Fairbanks had captivated me, and I had to go.

To Eagle I Go

The Taylor Highway on the way to Eagle was amazing. There is definitely some tourist / RV traffic

Yukon Bikerafting
Yukon Bikerafting

on the top of the world highway between Dawson city and Chicken, but the Taylor was empty. I camped in campgrounds in Delta, Tok and another past Chicken, though I can’t remember the name. I ate a chicken burger in Chicken (of course) that was delicious. One of the things about traveling by bicycle is that in the hierarchy of the local, someone on a bicycle is a big step above “tourist.” Everyone I met on this trip was really nice to me.

My Gear

My packraft is @alpacka_raft’s “mule” model, with extra room up front (says Alpacka) for a dog or (says me) for a bike. There were many fires at the time, so the sky was filled with smoke for most of the trip.

The bike and kit are shown above. It was heavy but stable. The four-inch tires were absolute overkill on the roads, but once I got onto the twisting dirt roads past Chicken they seemed like a good choice. To get a bike with camping gear and packraft, paddle, PFD, etc. to behave while bombing downhill over loose gravel is no easy task. This image (top left) was taken at some ungodly hour (3a.m.) while crossing the Tanana on the way to Tok. There was a heatwave, so I was doing the majority of my long day pedaling before noon.

The best part of a bikerafting trip is the relaxation of sitting on the raft after all those days of pedaling. Getting off the bike saddle for a few days was like a “get out of jail free card.” (Photo top right) Classic Zak mismatched socks.)

I did some paddling as the wind picked up, and it was awkward. I learned rafts are more for floating and less for making forward progress.

More Stories!

Want to read another story about bikerafting Alaska? Check out, “Bikerafting the Brooks,” by Steve “Doom” Fassbinder in the 5th issue of Wilder. Or check out the four-part series on the Salsa Blog, “Hellbiking Revisited,” by Brett Davis, which documents the same journey, but also includes an interview with the original OG bikerafters–Roman Dial, Carl Tobin and John Underwood.

Have your own adventure story you want to submit? We want to read it! Email us at thebikeraftguide for details!

Want to learn some tips and tricks, but you haven’t bought a copy of The Bikeraft Guide yet? Start here with one of our bikerafting how-to videos, “How to Put Wheels (& other gear) on Your Bike.