I think I may have asked about Alaska here a couple of years ago. I had a plan all laid out and even bought the coupon books. Then, when I tried booking us hotel rooms (this was in April and I was trying to book for July-August), I found that the coupon discount rooms had already been snatched. Overall, it was extremely hard to find reasonably priced-lodging for our family of four. By reasonable, I mean an average of $80-$90 a night, which is what we usually pay on our US road tripping motel rooms. Sure, some places cost a bit more, but then others balance that out with cheaper rates.
For Alaska, it seemed impossible to keep the average rate under $100, and it generally felt like an uphill struggle. I was sending out lots of emails, calling places etc. I finally gave up, not only because of the prices, but because keeping the prices down meant committing a long time in advance on certain dates which I was reluctant to do, seeing as we had planned a long road trip to get to Alaska. So, instead, we spent four and a half months traveling the northern parts of the US, including a couple of months in the US Rockies (Montana/Idaho/Wyoming). Had a great time.
That was in 2013. We're back home now and I'm thinking about our next big adventure, hopefully three months: August-October. We love mountains, we love scenery, we love nature and we've spent a lot of time in the US Rockies + visited the Canadian Rockies (Bannf/Jasper). I am very much tempted to make this the trip that takes us further up north. The fantasy route is: up the Alacan to Alaska, then coming back down the Stewart-Cassiar. For various reasons, we'll be starting and ending the trip in California, but we've already visited the west coast extensively, so we don't need a lot of time for that part of the trip. Point is, we'll be starting the Alcan in mid-August and taking ~5-6 weeks for this Canada +Alaska part of the trip.
I'd love some input on the following -
1. Am I right in assuming Alaska might be a bit cheaper and more flexible in very late August and the first half of September? Or is it still high-season with the same rates and reservation problems?
2. Hiking in BC, the Yukon and AK - how intensive is bear activity? We've seen about 50 bears in the US and Canada until today, including about a dozen Grizzlies, so we're not "bear virgins". My kids have been through enough Junior Ranger programs to tell the difference on sight and we all know the bear country rules by heart and have bear spray when we travel. Still, I went over the reports of bear fatalities in North America (bad idea, I know!) and these northern parts seem to have more than their fair share of bear attacks... Do trails in national parks etc. feel safe to hike with families? Are they busy enough, with enough tourists making enough noise? I have this mental image of us getting on a trail with nobody around and me and the kids chickening out and going back to the car. I should probably ask more about this in the BC/Yukon forums...
I realize my first question should be the one to focus on, but I confess the bear dangers weigh on my mind more...