The Denali Highway is a long, rough road through some of the most beautiful scenery accessible by car in Alaska. It runs 135 miles from Cantwell, near Denali National Park, to Paxson at its eastern terminus along the Richardson Highway. It's one of those drives you simply must not rush. Go slowly to enjoy the landscapes, and keep a keen eye out for caribou, moose, bear, and huge variety of migratory birds. Stop frequently and take it all in.
As the rocky road approaches the Maclaren River 42 miles from Paxson, you will find one of the few signs of humans in this great land. World-class dog mushers John Schandelmeier and his wife Zoya DeNure operate Crazy Dog Kennel and Denali Highway Tours and Cabins. Here travelers taking the slow road can spend a cozy night or two in warm, comfortable cabins and enjoy their hosts' Alaska-sized hospitality. You can arrange a tour of the local environs, set your own pace along various hiking trails, or simply kick back on your cabin's deck to unwind. Since John and Zoya operate their place as a working kennel, you can also learn about dog mushing and their efforts to rehabilitate rescued dogs.
The place is set up to be eco-friendly. You have a choice of two cabins, which sleep 4-5, equipped with propane cook tops if you brought your own food, and wood stoves, which keep the cabins warm. Both cabins have decks overlooking a small pond. Outhouses are adjacent to each, and a nearby shower cabin is a good way to wash off the dust from the trail. The cabins are set well away from the main house and kennel, so privacy is maximized. You can grab a hot meal or a drink at the Maclaren River Lodge a short walk across the bridge on the other side of the river.
Since the Denali Highway isn't maintained in winter, the only time to visit is between early May and late September. In late June the wildflowers are peaking, and in late August to early September the fall colors are stupendous.
Whenever you take the trek, you will find John and Zoya working with the dogs and extending a generous, warm welcome to their guests. I can hardly imagine a more relaxing, friendly place.