The Denali Highway connects the Parks Highway on the west with the Richardson Highway on the east. The western Parks Highway connects Anchorage with Fairbanks along the shortest passable route between the two. Along the way the Parks Highway provides access to Denali National Park in the town of McKinley Park. McKinley Park is a services town dedicated to providing all the appropriate tourist related services for people touring Denali National Park. At one time the Denali Highway was the only way to get to the park necessitating a journey of 135 miles from the eastern Richardson Highway westbound to Denali. Of the 135 miles, 100 are dirt.
On Friday we drove the remainder of the distance from our camping spot on Hatcher’s Pass Road along the Parks Highway up to the Denali Highway. The Denali Highway intersects with the Parks Highway at the town of Cantwell. We are currently parked in a large gravel turnout about five miles down the Denali Highway.
Saturday we decided it would be nice to drive the Denali Highway in the Jeep. Breann didn’t want to sit in the Jeep for the drive, so Hannah and Hilary and I took off around 9AM heading east on the Denali Highway. The day was grey and overcast with a few rain showers along the way. The three of us really enjoyed the drive and while the weather was not the best for pictures we truly enjoyed the spectacular scenery. We covered all but the eastern most 25 miles of the Highway. We arrived back at the bus around 4:30PM after traveling 200 miles. The road was in fairly good condition allowing for a consistent 40 mph traveling speed. We could have driven faster as the speed limit on the road is 50mph, but found the slower pace allowed us to enjoy the scenery passing by a bit more. We made several stops along the way and even hiked a small ridgeline just to see what was over the hill.
This is the Maclaren Glacier:
Looking out at the mountains towards the north across Clearwater creek:
Sunday finds us with another grey overcast day. We decided to take the time to catch up on some cooking, reading, exercise, and hair cutting. We made three batches of granola, some blue berry muffins with blue berries freshly picked from the bushes next to the bus, and canned salmon soup for dinner. The kids both got a mile plus walk in while I ran almost 4 and ½ miles. I also cut about 5 inches off the ends of Hannah’s hair.
Check out the Chukar who visited us this morning:
Monday we plan to drive up to Denali National Park and find out about bus ride options and cost as well as visit the main visitor center. We heard part of the park was currently closed due to an aggressive Grizzly bear. We hope to learn what is open so we can decide what we want to do while we are in the area. Weather looks to be overcast, cool, and rainy the next few days meaning we will likely not get to see Denali Mountain while we are in the park. We will just be content with the views we had of the mountain during our drive up on Friday. If the weather were to clear up we would also have a great view of the mountain from our camping spot without even needing to go into the park.
• Friday, 7/15: 157 (Denali Hwy)