Our family took a road trip on the Denali Highway September 1-4, 2010.
The Denali Highway is one of our favorite places in Alaska.
We took our older 21 foot RV. We started on the Cantwell side and drove across to Paxson. The road is mostly gravel except for about the first 3 miles on the Cantwell side and about the first 20 miles from Paxon to Tangle Lakes. If you don’t want to drive on gravel it is still worth your time to drive the paved section from Paxson to Tangle Lakes.
The road was in great condition for our crossing, the gravel was smooth with a few rough sections. If you drive slow, 25- 40 mph, you should not have any problems. The highway conditions can change so check before you go.
There a lot of places to pull off the road to sight see, hike and camp. There are a few “formal” campgrounds also. A stop at Alpine Creek Lodge is a must, it is about halfway: http://www.alpinecreeklodge.com Get an Alaska Milepost it is a great guide for the Denali Highway.
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition especially your tires. Take warm clothing with rain gear, sleeping bags, food for a couple of extra days, and tent if you are not in a camper or RV. If you have a break down someone will stop and check on you but sometimes that may take a while and if you need a tow you may have to wait, may as well be comfortable. There is sporadic cell phone coverage, (don’t depend on it though). Make sure you have some type of towing insurance, if you need to be towed it is really expensive. Sam’s Club has a great break down plan that covers all of your vehicles even motorcycles and it is not too expensive, (way cheaper than a tow bill).
If you want to have a campfire take firewood as it is difficult to come by along the highway. Make sure that open fires are allowed as it can get extremely dry and you don’t want to start a tundra or forest fire. Be prepared for all types of weather I have seen it snow in July and August, it did not stick for long, but it was still snow. The night temperatures in the spring and fall can get below freezing. The summer temperatures can get into the 80s.
It is a beautiful drive anytime, take your time and you may see moose, caribou, bears, and all kinds of small game and birds. There is fishing for Arctic Grayling and Lake Trout in many places.
To see a few photos of our recent trip on the Denali Highway click this: