Modrell Performance Horses trip from Tremonton, Utah to Fairbanks, Alaska
July 23, 2015 to August 3, 2015
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Preparation for Horses & Dogs
Preparing for travel with horses from Utah to Alaska traveling through Canada. Start by researching requirement from states you will be passing through as well as Canada. Ask your veterinarian for assistance as they will need to be in contact with the Alaska state veterinarian as well as your current state veterinarian. Horses and dogs need paperwork for international travel. It is recommended that all of your animals are vaccinated with boosters at least two weeks prior to travel. If your horses are not on a regular deworming schedule, this should be done two weeks to a month before travel. Dogs should be on a parasite control program, we use Heartguard and Frontline. There are many options, your veterinarian can assist you with the best option for your pet.
Water and Feed
Drinking water is the most important factor while traveling and may not be available in all areas. We recommend that you take a container of water for the horses and dogs. We took a 55 gallon drum for three horses and filled it twice during the trip.
Transition your horse to the diet they will be eating while traveling. Allow for the unexpected, pack enough feed for at least two more days than your planned trip length. There are several theories about what horses should eat when they travel, do your research and make your own decision. We fed their normal diet of timothy hay cubes and Purina Omolene 200 after they drank water when we stopped for the night. We fed only watered down hay cubes and water at rest stops. This will be a stressful trip for the horses, they will use a lot of energy and will likely lose weight. The dogs will likely go off food during the trip, we supplemented their dry food with canned food when needed.
Bugs and Blankets and Leg Wraps
Stock up on insect spray for your horses, we recommend taking more than one type. We found that rubbing swat on the horses’ belly helped with keeping the gnats from getting too aggressive. We took a variety of stable sheets and blankets. We only ended up using the sheets on our trip to keep the chill off the horses.
Leg wraps or shipping boots? This depends on your horse, how they travel, your trailer, and your opinion. We always use shipping boots or leg wraps depending on how each individual horse travels.
Preparation for the Humans
A good insect repellent is highly recommended. Pack for a variety of weather from summer heat to snow and rain. Flashlights, batteries, camping stove, drinking water, and camping meals (we like Mountain House meals) for emergencies.
Do not depend on your credit and debit cards, some may work, some may not. Calling your banks and credit cards prior to the trip to let them know your travel plans will save you from having to call them when they lock your cards. Plan on acquiring Canadian currency prior to entering Canada. Many fueling stations do not have pay at the pump or require prepay. We found it easiest to go into the station prior to fueling. Verify your credit card transactions with your account statements, there will likely be fees on each transaction you make in Canada.
Preparation for Your Vehicle and Trailer
Though there are options for roadside assistance, I will tell you from experience that you may be on the side of the road for 4-5 hours waiting for help. Each vehicle should have at least one good full-size spare tire, two if you have the space, fuel cans with fuel, an air compressor, battery charger, and tool kit. Your vehicles should be in good repair, a fresh oil change, and an overall inspection. There are several hundred miles of no cell service, a satellite phone may be beneficial. If you do have problems, other drivers are good to offer assistance.
We found that our initial goal of traveling 500 miles a day stressed the horses due to the mountain passes, poor road quality, and distance between locations with horse accommodations. We decided that 300 miles a day was more reasonable. This resulted in about 8 hours of driving a day with at least two stops to rests the horses. This also allowed us to enjoy the trip a bit instead of just driving and sleeping.
It is advised that you plan this trip between late May and early August. Many of the attractions, campgrounds, restaurants, and gas stations are closed in the winter months. This will also assure that you have decent road conditions. Speaking of road conditions, the first part of the trip through either Alberta or British Columbia, depending on which route you take will be much of what you expect in the lower 48 with many four lane highways. As you get further north there will be two lane roads with occasional passing lanes. You are guaranteed to run into construction on the ALCAN (Alaska-Canada) Highway which runs from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska. Road repairs are often done with gravel and at times are single lane following a pilot car. There are many resources and stories if you do an online search. Crossing through the Yukon Territory, you will encounter frost heaves, pot holes, earthquake damaged roads, wildlife and beautiful scenery. Use caution and don’t forget about your precious cargo.
Horse Friendly Locations
We will review the horse friendly locations we used, some had a fee per horse, and others accommodated the horses as part of the lodging fees. Most are only open from May to September. Please be courteous and respectful to the owners. Leave it as you found it, clean up after yourselves and your horses. Many places will allow trailer clean out if you ask where they want it. In Canada, water can be expensive or hard to come by, only use what you need. Etiquette and courtesy is key to keeping these places available for travelers.
Depending on how far off the main road you want to go and which route you take, there are many others in British Columbia and Alberta. You will need to get creative in the Yukon Territory. Here are some websites I found useful in planning:
If you are traveling through northern Utah, the Box Elder County Fairgrounds in Tremonton is a popular option. There are overnight stalls or pens by the rodeo arena. There is a dirt track, round pens, two outside arenas and an indoor arena.
Mountain View Motel & RV Park has two decent sized wood pole corrals with good water. Corrals are near the RV Park if you have a trailer with living quarters or the motel is a short walk away. Right off the interstate exit, next door to a truck stop/fueling station. Recommend calling for reservations.
Marias County Fairgrounds is west of town from the interstate. Truck stop and fueling station when you exit the interstate. The rodeo pens were nice and good water. Honor system for contacting the fairgrounds manager and paying.
Where Paths Cross: A good place for the horses to stretch their legs and relax, friendly and accommodating owner, single lane driveway, tucked away location outside of town.
There are steep grades, rough roads, construction zone, and can be slow going from Dawson Creek to Tok.
Fort St. John, British Columbia
Peace Light Horse Arena is a short drive off the interstate. They prefer you make arrangements in advance because they are a large boarding facility. Friendly and many options for boarding, we overnighted at the rodeo grounds on the property. Restrooms, a round pen and arenas are available.
Fort Nelson, British Columbia
Triple “G” Hideaway RV Park and Campground is just off the ALCAN at the west end of Fort Nelson. With reservations, they allowed us to set up a pen for the horses on the property. Nice owners, very accommodating, and good food.
Toad River, British Columbia
Folding Mountain Bed and Breakfast: We did not stay here, but noticed it on the way through.Toad River Lodge on the way through has great buffalo burgers and beautiful scenery.
Coal River, British Columbia
Coal River Lodge: We did not stay here, but noticed it on the way through.
Nugget City, Yukon
Nugget City is a short drive past Watson Lake, call for reservations. We cannot say enough about this place. Nice size corral for the horses, beautiful accommodations close to the corral, excellent food prepared by a world class chef, and nice gift shop. The owners have a great story about the property, are very friendly, hard-working, and take great pride in their facilities.
Hidden Valley Bed & Bale: Unfortunately they were booked full when we were planning to be in the area.Caution: Extremely rough roads from Destruction Bay to Beaver Creek.
Tok Line Camp Bed & Breakfast is a short drive off the highway. Owner is friendly and knowledgeable about the area, private facility with a pull through driveway, large round pen or stalls available, nice cabins, basic amenities.
At the border crossings, be courteous, and have patience. Have all your paperwork in order and do not let your pets out. You will likely be asked to come into the building after going through the gate.
Take your time, enjoy the trip. Many people will want to come pet the horses or talk with you about them. We placed a "caution horses" sign on the back of the trailer which seemed to help immensely with keeping drivers from tail-gating.