Wednesday, September 28, 2016

usbackroads destination--Denali Highway, Cantwell to Paxson, Alaska

usbackroads destination--Denali Highway, Cantwell to Paxson, Alaska

travel dates: August 13th, 2016

Denali National Park was a major disappointment. Leaving Denali National Park was easy.

Alaskan's told me that the Denali Highway was the real Alaska, mostly BLM managed land, with a gravel road for 135 miles from Cantwell to Paxson, Alaska. As the picture above shows, it is a pretty special place. May it stay, forever, under BLM management.

Leaving Cantwell the highway changes from pavement to dirt within a few miles. The scenery is pretty spectacular and along the stretch you can catch a glimpse of  Denali, however the scenery along the road will quickly make you forget that national park.

The highway had been open for about two months. So the potholes have made their appearance and the road kept getting worse almost to the end. August 13th turned out to be opening day of caribou season, so there was plenty of campers and traffic on the road. It wasn't to bad, but if you can make the trip earlier in the season, before the potholes it will be much more comfortable. Notice the washboard and potholes in the road.

The scenery keeps you going. The highway is long enough that even in Alaska it slowly changes. Keep one eye on the potholes and the other on the scenery.

There are many places to pull over and camp. These are fewer on opening day of caribou season. I would definitely go before caribou season and plan on camping two or three nights on the route. Earlier in the season I would also keep the mosquito supplies handy. The advantage to later in the season are the berries. They are everywhere along the road. These became huckleberry pancakes.

Years ago, the backroads of Idaho and Montana were different. Now you have to go to Alaska, to find those special cafe's, cabins and roadside services.

There is a reason for all those tire repair places. Along the route there are a few BLM facilities, but your better off camping off the road, except for Tangle Lake campground which will be covered in the next posting. Notice that the BLM facilities also have Alaskan sized potholes.

More scenery. I did see one caribou with the image stabilized binoculars. He was just feeding in the willows looking like he did not have a care in the world. Little did he know that there were people "gunning" for him!!

The Denali Highway. Alaska...the real thing without paved roads or silly rules and regulations. Go see it. It is special.

Here are some links to explore before you get there:

This link gives an overview of the area:

Here are the activities along the route:

Do some pre planning and plan on spending more than one day traveling the 135 miles.

As always click on photos to enlarge. This set is worth clicking on.

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