Denali Highway Update
Headed up to the Denali Highway for a couple days this past weekend. The road is open all the way across. Right around mile 125 (10 miles from Cantwell), the road is soft from work being done on it. The side closer to Cantwell still has some snow on the ground. Leave your snowmachines at home. The snow is so low and only in pockets, you won't get a chance to use your machine. Spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday glassing the hills around the Valdez Creek Rd. Did not see a thing. Ran into 3 other hunters who were out there for a number of days, all said they did not see any bear. All the south facing slopes are devoid of snow, or at least mostly devoid. Between myself and the other 3 hunters, we only saw 2 sets of tracks up high in the snow. Seems strange that 80% of the snow is completely melted but no bears have been sighted. Beginning to believe that the bears all headed to the valley bottom which is where they will remain for the duration.
I did see over 300 caribou and a half dozen moose on this trip. I stopped into the Alpine Creek Lodge where I met Claude and his family. All i can say is that I will go back there. He was nice enough to take the time to offer me a cup of joe and showed me his work in progress. I am Jealous. What a great place to call home ! I think i'll head up there in the next coupla weeks and give him my business. Great views, nice rooms, and the best conversation. Claude has a wealth of knowledge about the area and he can get you to where you want to go. Stop in and see him if you are in the area.
So, for any campers/hunters the road is Open, but it may take a lot of work to find the bear you're looking for. If they did hit the valley floor already, they will be almost impossible to hunt from the road. As far as the fishing goes (Grayling), i would imagine the creeks and lakes will be wide open in the next 2 weeks or so...bring your poles...
How are the atv trails looking up there? I'd like to take a trip up there with the wheeler and look for a grizz sometime this month.
From what I could gather, most of the atv trails were pretty much open to riding. I saw 2 hunters on their atv's and they weren't complaining about the trails at all. I would imagine all remaining snow will be gone in the next 2 weeks..its darn near gone now on the Eastern end of the highway...
Thanks for the update
Heading up there this weekend. Can't wait.
Spent the past 3 days up there, same report as Skydiver.
Put on around 40 miles on the atv's, drove the truck to the McClaren River, road was fine. Did lots and lots of glassing. There were a few potholes on our way in from Cantwell, but on our way out they were filled. A few soft spots on the road that kind of suck you in, but the maintenance crew was doing a good job.
Saw over 100 ptarmigan, over 25 moose, and probably 100-200 caribou scattered all over. Most along the road.
We saw 1 set of tracks, and talked to another hunter who had seen 1 set of tracks, but nothing more than that.
Awesome trip though, had some gorgeous weather, saw lots of stuff many people don't ever get the chance to see, just no bears.
Are the drainage creeks open? Brushkana, Butte, Clear, Valdez, etc.
not open yet...but they will be in the next week or two... some spots are melting...
Originally Posted by 1S1K
I'll bring the fly poles anyway. I've never been on the Denali Hwy this early so it's new to me. I usally make my first trip later in June.
Spent the weekend around mp 80 of Denali Hwy. Denali Hwy itself is in great shape. All the creeks that I saw, Brushkana, Canyon, Valdez and Butte are open and flowing. Snodgrass lake was still covered in ice but the outlet stream was open and flowing. We fished Butte Creek and Valdez Creek and didn't have any luck with grayling. Must be still a bit early, but I'm betting any day now.
The atv trails that we were on were still partially covered with knee deep snow even though the terrain on either side was barren. Where the trail is free of snow it's soupy and there are areas of overflow. Definitely NOT snowmachine worthy. Made it back to Wickersham creek and saw lots of caribou, moose, but no bears. Didn't really sit in one spot for long to glass for bears so probably not an accurate "No Bears" report.
Headed up Valdez Creek Mine road for about 17 miles and that is in great shape. Never been all the way to wherever it ends but looked like it just keeps going. Definitely have to go back and explore that some more.
Didn't make it to Alpine Creek Lodge, but will keep it on the list of places to visit.
Great weather, but it is still getting down below freezing at night. Thank God for Cabelas Guide tent and a Little Buddy heater.
As soon as I get some pics from the guys I went with I'll post 'em up. I love the Denali Hwy, never ceases to be a spectacular trip.
Denali Hwy pics from weekend 5/7-9
Still plenty of snow up high.