"Ice Road Truckers" Paves Road of Gold for Local Tour Company
Salmon Berry Tours gives tours of local trucking industry
ANCHORAGE - What do state troopers, local taxidermists and long haul truckers have in common? They’ve all been featured on reality television shows about Alaska and they are becoming so popular some local tour companies are cashing in.
Candice McDonald owns Salmon Berry Tours in Anchorage. About three years ago she decided to build off the popularity of the History Channel’s Ice Road Trucker Show and offer a local tour of the trucking industry in Anchorage.
McDonald said most of the people who have signed up for the tour are big fans of the show – about 98 percent – and they come from all over the world.
“The people who have been the most enthusiastic have been people from Ireland and Brazil,” said McDonald. “And then the Australians after that, they are all about trucking.”
For $99 McDonald will provide a behind the scenes tour of an industrial side of the city that many residents have never seen. Her tour starts at the Port of Anchorage to get a peek at where the cargo comes in that the big rigs haul.
After that it’s off to the Carlile Trucking yard, a company that McDonald’s family has owned for many years and is featured on the show. Visitors can see the warehouse where the freight is sorted onto giant pallets for the trip up north or climb aboard a rig and sit behind the wheel to have the same view as a long haul trucker.
But a favorite part of the tour for many is a chance to try the Haul Road Simulator. Here visitors can take the wheel and drive to the images on the screen as they battle ice and white-out conditions along the way. It’s not the real thing but it’s close.
For people who want the ultimate experience McDonald said she can offer that too. Die-hard fans may want to sign up for Salmon Berry’s “Haul Road Trip” where you get to ride all 520 miles of the Haul Road with a real Ice Road Trucker from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. The tour costs $850 and so far a little more than a dozen people have gone. McDonald said if the television show continues its popular run, she’s expecting many more to take the ride.