Driving the scenic Denali Highway
The beginning of our trip to the Denali Highway led us up the Glenn Highway, a route we had taken before, up to Glennallen. From there we followed the Richardson Highway to Paxson where we finally took a turn onto the Denali Highway. Just getting there had already swallowed up 6 hours in the car, and we were determined to drive at least half of the Denali Highway that day.
The craziest thing though was actually the process of gassing up. We knew we’d have to gas up again before we went onto the Denali Highway, but didn’t want to gas up as early as Glenallen. We had a map that showed a gas station in Paxson but I really didn’t want to take the risk of taking the very last possible gas station. Turned out it was a good decision, because Paxson ended up being something like a ghost town. The lodge advertised in our brochure was abandoned and the gas station was nowhere to be found...
In a state where you cover huge distances in-between gas stations that really can turn into a big problem.
We had luckily gassed up before Paxson though, and could get on the Denali Highway without being worried about running out of gas. And the Denali Highway really turned out to be as scenic as is was supposed to be. We stopped at least three times within the first 23 miles, where the road was still paved.
Then we reached the pavement break and continued our trip on the gravel part of the Denali Highway. While we had done an average of about 60 mph on the paved highways, the Denali Highway has a speed limit of 55mph, and the recommended speed is 35mph. We did about 20/25 mph lots of giant potholes and loose gravel. The condition of the gravel road was in parts very good, but in others almost as bad as the road to our campground in Seward. Other people that took the highway didn’t worry about that so much and pretty much raced over the road.
During our trip, including many many picture stops, we didn’t see any animals. Instead we saw a lot of hunters. An approximated billion of them were camping out in the countryside to shoot the poor caribous that we just wanted to take photos off. Maybe that was the reason why we couldn’t find any.
After about 13 hours of driving we set up camp in a pull out. Setting up camp really meant unpacking our stuff in the back of the van, since we just slept in the car.
At that point I really want to say „Thank You!“ again to our hosts for letting us use their car in that manner, and especially on that highway! Not everybody would just give their car to two foreigners wanting to drive a gravel highway that is very hard on tires and axes of the car, and might crack the windshield. Thanks so much!