When you mentioned your trip was to southern Alaska and you were on a river trip I figured it was the Tatshenshini/Alsek. Never did it but always wanted to. Did a few rivers in other parts of Alaska.
In ’76, some friends and I flew into Bettles, put in on the Koyukuk River, went down it about 80 miles, then lined our Kleppers up the Alatna River about 200 miles to the headwaters, portaged over the continental divide to the Noatak River and went down it about 300 or 400 miles to the village of Noatak. (Not sure my recollection of river miles is still accurate after more than 40 years…) Total of 90 days in the Brooks Range, resupplied only once after the first 3 weeks near the Arrigetch, with another 9 weeks of food. Other than the bush pilot that brought our food, we only saw two other people the entire summer.
Also did some winter X-C ski trips in the Brooks – it is great for that – broad, U-shaped, flat bottom glacial valleys, minimal avalanche danger but some wild overflow (aufeis) in places. Through the Gates of the Arctic with a friend one winter and then the next winter I did a solo ski trip from Anaktuvuk Pass west to the headwaters of the Alatna (to tie into that summer trip) and back – couple hundred miles. Both winter trips with no tent, no stove. Cooking over fires (ability to find dead standing willows or alders is key).
The Noatak is the Queen of the Brooks Range Rivers but there are many others you might consider. But as you well know, you have to fly in and/or out to get into the real wilderness. But a truck camper can get you to some great areas. I imagine you have some ideas of what you want to do.
Driving into Wrangell – St Elias NP is fun on the old Copper River railroad bed. Can’t drive into McCarthy but you can park & dry camp for $ just before the footbridge and walk in. Used to be a tram back in the old days. You could fly in from McCathy and do the Goat Trail.
I did the Grand Canyon just once – in 1980. Three of us from Alaska. Two were in kayaks and I was on an old army surplus vintage 10 man raft. Started off with old split oars, wood rowing frame made of old 2×8’s, leaky old rubber army surplus dry bags, etc. Low budget…. We put in the day after Thanksgiving and took out at Lake Mead the day before Christmas. The Park Ranger at the put in told us no one was on the river ahead of us and no other parties were scheduled till after Christmas. So we had the entire Colorado River in the Grand Canyon to ourselves for 30 days. That is not likely possible anymore. I am reluctant to do it again because I am totally spoiled after that.
Back to Alaska. Other than the road into (or almost to) McCarthy, I can suggest the Denali Highway. If you do the Haul Road (the Dalton) to get into the Brooks Range, I can give you some tips. Lived in several different places in pipeline camps along the Haul Road for two years so know it really well. Would not recommend going further north in a truck camper than Galbraith Lake or Slope Mountain to avoid the flat, dusty or muddy miles to Prudhoe Bay. The road will be hard enough on your truck & camper, no sense prolonging it.
Also suggest getting campground reservations (as soon as possible) in Denali National Park so you can drive your rig deep into the park. Once at the campground you can’t use your truck but you will be in the park and can use shuttle buses. You don’t want to camp outside of the park – too crowded – and you are not in the park. Incredible wildlife viewing in the park.
If you want some ideas or my take on a particular area or truck camper access, let me know. Maybe we could somehow exchange email addresses.
In any case, have a great trip.