While you are visiting Alaska, you may choose to go camping! Why not take in the fantastic fall colors and take an adventure drive over the Denali Highway? In all our years here and all our travels, this is one road that neither Larry nor I have had the pleasure of traveling until this year (2011). So we packed up some friends, warm camping gear, Tana the poodle and headed north.
Our adventure started as we drove through the still green Birch and Spruce trees of the Matanuska Valley and meandered north through the state toward Cantwell. We left Wasilla (mile 40 of the Parks Highway) passed Talkeetna, neared Mount Mckinley (ok, the park anyway) and made a right at Cantwell (about 160 miles later). As we drove north we could feel the temperature change and see the light yellowing of the trees as fall kissed the leaves.
We were, of course, in full debate as to which we would see first-would it be an eagle? A moose or caribou? Perhaps a bear? Our friends were ready to see a bear but the caribou ‘won.’
Along the Denali Highway, we were very surprised to see how many other campers (hunters too) were out there with us. Much to our surprise, with as many weekend tent cities and hunting stations as there were 100 miles from much of anything, we had a friend (and past client three times over) pull up beside us. Alaska is the largest state in the union but it is still a small world! Allan was doing exactly what we were, exploring our beautiful state and taking pictures along the way.
Our campsite was not perfect and it rained on us all night but, by morning, it was beautiful out and the campfire was perfect for our oatmeal and fresh picked blueberries.
Our 550 mile drive/camping trip and wildlife viewing tour cannot be described any better than in the photos we took. Take a look!
From Wasilla, drive north on the Parks Highway toward Fairbanks, take the Denali Highway exit at Cantwell. Follow the 135 mile (much of it dirt but very well maintained) road across to Paxson. Follow to Glennallen (get gas here too before continuing on) and then south to Palmer. From Palmer you can go back over to Wasilla or continue south to Anchorage.
Services are very limited! Medical may be available in Delta Junction, Cantwell and Glennallen but there is not much available while on the Denali Highway.
Fill up your gas tank before heading on the highway. Bring your snacks and drinks, protection from wildlife, extra gear and warm clothes with you. Don’t forget your camera!
There are a couple of places to stay but they are limited and on a first come first served basis, otherwise a warm tent and camping gear makes for a great adventure in itself.
The Denali Highway is typically open from mid May to October unless you are on a snow machine adventure. Snow and drifts often makes the road impassible.
Have fun on your adventure and stay safe!
Jacque & Larry