Although it was once the original travel route to Denali National Park, the Denali Highway is now overlooked by many tourists. Yet this highway rewards the traveller who has time to spare with outstanding scenery, good chances to view wildlife, and best of all, glimpses of Alaska as it used to be- wilderness in all directions. The Denali is serendipity country where one can still be surprised by an unanticipated vista, an unexpected wildlife sighting or an unplanned adventure along an unmarked trail- the experiences that make for the most memorable of vacations.
What to do
No permits are required for non-commercial camping on BLM-administered lands. The three BLM campgrounds with a total of 46 campsites are on a first come-first served basis and have a camping limit of 14 days in any 60-day period.
Bring topographic maps. Trails usually are unmarked. Rubber boots are recommended to cross wet spots.
Lake trout and grayling in the many lakes and streams along the highway. For further information, consult the Denali Highway Fishing Guide published by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Note: Along the Denali Highway, salmon are only found in the upper Gulkana River near Paxson.
The entire route presents outstanding opportunities for observing glacial features and wildlife. Caribou, moose, black and grizzly bear, ptarmigan, trumpeter swan and numerous waterfowl species can be expected.
Tangle lakes, and upper Nenana, Delta and Gulkana rivers.
The Denali Highway is about 133 miles long and connects Paxson on the east with Cantwell on the west side. A loop trip from Fairbanks would involve a trip of about 436 miles and a trip from Anchorage and return would be about 600 miles. Allow several days for these trips.
The highway is generally open from mid-May to October I and is paved only for the first 21 miles west of Paxson. When driving on gravel, SLOW DOWN when passing another vehicle. Just one small flying rock can damage a windshield and it could be yours. The maximum recommended speed for travel when no other vehicles are in sight is 30 mph.
Before venturing along this road, be sure your vehicle is in good working order. Check your spare tire and see that you have a jack and lug wrench. Carry extra water and sufficient food for an emergency situation. You cannot predict how long it will take to get help if you become stranded.
Five inns (or roadhouses) offer services between Paxson and Cantwell.
Bring proper clothing so that you are prepared for any type of weather. It can be hot and sunny one day and cold, rainy and windy the next. It can snow any month of the year.
For further information, contact:
Bureau of Land Management
Glennallen District Office
Glennallen, AK 99588