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Thread: denali highway

  1. #1
    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Default denali highway

    As lame as this sounds I've lived in Alaska a total of 15 years over two periods and have never traveled the denali hwy. Of what I've been told, its a pretty rough road so I'm not in favor of taking my RV on it. However, since it is a gravel road, and it is maintained by the state during the summer months only, could one pack up a Ranger for the tr[p and travel the road? I figure it would be the best way to travel and stray off on trails that appear interesting for our first trip. Your thoughts and experiences please.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Chico, I dont know how much you baby your RV, but the road is not that bad and ALOT of RVs travel it every summer. Take it slow(er) and enjoy it, it is beautiful country!!!

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    Most trails on the Denali Highway are around the mid-point, where it crosses the Susitna River. Apparently the crews from Paxson do a better job grading it than those on the Cantwell side, but we usually come in from the west.

    Road isn't too bad--depending on how recently it was graded. The road tends to washboard, so experiment with vehicle speed--often something around 30-35 mph smooths those washboard ripples right out. You may want to take your hubcaps off--all they are going to do is get muddy, anyway!

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    Lots of motorhomes on the Denali hwy, just go slow and enjoy the view.
    Anchorage Ak

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    Not really interested in taking the Rv the entire way. Have you guys seen ATV's riding the road or is that a major no go legal wise. I'd rather do it in a Ranger if I can get away with it.

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    IMO, as far as enforcement goes I think a guy could ride a Ranger the whole length of the Denali Hwy. Not that it is legal, but I doubt you'll get stopped. Especially after Aug 10 caribou hunters will descend on that area and they are buzzing up and down the hwy so its common to see wheelers and SideXSides on the road. However, it can be a dusty SOB, and there will still be motorhomes, and tour buses using the hwy and they throw up rocks that would "leave a mark" if they hit you in the head.

    My father-in-law and I have taken an RV the entire length from Cantwell to Paxson and it was a beater RV and it did fine. 25-35 mph and the road is fine. I found that from Cantwell to the Big Su was better than from Big Su to Paxson, but that was my experience. From the Cantwell side once you're past Brushkana you can pretty much explore any trail you see. Prior to that it's possible that it's private land or Ahtna land.

    I absolutely love the Denali Hwy. Seriously, take the RV, tow the Ranger and enjoy free camping at every gravel pit, and explore any trail you want. Bring a fly rod any clear water creek you come across will most likely have grayling in it.

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    Be careful about "exploring any trail you want" near the Tangle Lakes area. From about 30 mile to 15 mile or so. It is an archeological district and you can only use ORV on designated trails. Check out the blm site for details and a map: http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/fo/gdo/t...aological.html

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    We were up there on the 4th of july. You can ride your wheeler all over the highway. I have never seen any issue with it and hundreds do it. I went in the paxson side and out cantwell. I pulled my toy trailer across it and it was in fine shape all the way. That was a month ago. I highly suggest taking landmark gap trail in. Big pull out on the right just before rock creek. You can park your RV just past rock creek in some big pull outs. It is about 2 miles in a bit rough but then you will come upon a grayling stream on your right that is just freaking heaven. It will be on your right for about a mile all the way to the lake. Stop and fish it everywhere. If you go in the paxson side the first 20 miles are paved. Rock creek/landmark gap is only at mile marker 24. You could base camp at tangle lakes, fish there then ride all over
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico99645 View Post
    Not really interested in taking the Rv the entire way. Have you guys seen ATV's riding the road or is that a major no go legal wise. I'd rather do it in a Ranger if I can get away with it.
    it is fine to run the road up there.. as with most unimproved roads in AK, yield to bigger traffic and follow the laws.. there won't be any issues.

    i have only ever been stopped once running ATV on the road and that was the parks highway about 265 mile north of Ferry... trooper said i was not supposed to be out there... ( on the shoulder towing another bike) i politely asked him..

    SINCE WHEN? he couldn't answer me...and sent me on my way with a BE CARFUL... consider ATV and rural/remote area's synonymous here in AK
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I can't imagine owning an RV in Alaska that I wasn't willing to take down the denali highway. What is going to be more interesting is the nearly uncontrollable urge you will have to punch yourself in the face for not taking this trip many years ago. The country up there is amazing.

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the information, pointers, and fishing suggestions. I think I will take the RV and tow the Ranger as 1S1K suggested and take side trips. Thanks for the pulling the hub caps tip. I've bought too many replacements in the past already. I've heard nothing but great things about Tangle Lakes area as well as McClaren River area. I can't believe we have never done this either but summers are so short, and soooooo many things to do, I just put it on the back burner for way too long. Thanks again for the tips and info. I did fly a section of it a few years ago when I was lucky enough to fly back from the Slope to my house in a Helicopter that was being ferried at the end of the season back to homer. That was an amazing trip!!! I remember how pretty it was as well of the rest of Alaska, especially the Brooks Range at 200' obove the deck almost all the way.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Sounds like you are going to have a blast!!

    Interesting thing about choppers, even Iraq looks cool out the window of one! I had the opportunity when I was a kid to fly around the Chugach range in a huey. It was such a rush I have wanted to fly one ever since!

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Make sure you stop in and say hi at Mile 68! Free coffee all the time. Tell my wife I said hello if you could! (since I'm stuck out of state right now...) Agree with the folks on here, it's a great drive in an rv. We have a lot stopping by all the time. Just take your time. There is so much to see you'll find you won't go over 20mph anyhow.

    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by denalihunter View Post
    Make sure you stop in and say hi at Mile 68! Free coffee all the time. Tell my wife I said hello if you could! (since I'm stuck out of state right now...) Agree with the folks on here, it's a great drive in an rv. We have a lot stopping by all the time. Just take your time. There is so much to see you'll find you won't go over 20mph anyhow.

    Claude
    Oh god you must stop in at Alpine Creek Lodge at mile 68. Jennifer is a sweetie. (even though she will not let me and vince on her property again at the same time) Great folks. The time we had up there over the 4th was just amazing. Dont worry Claude. Were coming back next year
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by denalihunter View Post
    Make sure you stop in and say hi at Mile 68! Free coffee all the time. Tell my wife I said hello if you could! (since I'm stuck out of state right now...) Agree with the folks on here, it's a great drive in an rv. We have a lot stopping by all the time. Just take your time. There is so much to see you'll find you won't go over 20mph anyhow.

    Claude
    We certainly will! We are leaving in a few hours. At least it won't be dusty. I just hope its not raining the entire trip. Thanks again for the tips.

    Mark

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    Valdex Creek Mine is another good area to ride.

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    Got back last night, and had a great trip! Weather was awesome. Mostly cloudy the entire way, but high clouds so view of mountains was not obstructed. Approx 500 miles round trip from the house in Palmer. My favorite area was the McClaren River Area. God had a great moment that day IMO. Didn't do as much trail riding as I would have liked as we saved most or the riding for Tangle Lakes Area which really didn't have much trail riding as I expected. Road into Landmark Gap as Chuck recommended. It was AWESOME!!!! I want to go back and drag a canoe along and paddle up to the second part of the lake. Total serenity IMO. Water is cyrstal clear and cold and the lake is sandwiched between two mountains. How great is that! Wife said that this will be an annual trip. Claude, we stopped into to your lodge and met with Jennifer. She is a sweetie. She had some company so we didn't stay long. When I mentioned Chuck and Vince, she did laugh and said you guys were a handfull. LOL You do have a little peice of heaven there, great job!!! We saw every critter minus bears, wolf and wolverine. Even saw a Lynx. For those of you getting ready to hunt, Canyon Creek has quite a few caribou already passing thru. I don't have pictures to post as my wife left the memory card for our camera in her computor at home, and by the time we tried to take pictures, we were alreay on the denali hwy. I took a few with my Iphone but they are not really that great. Great trip and recommend it to anyone. BTW, the road was fine. I drove 20-25 MPH all the way with nothing falling off the counters.

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Great report. Landmark gap stream is the perfect looking stream. Gin clean in 4 feet of water. We caught so many grayling in there. The lake does look amazing and on my list of places to fish. Small inflateable or canoe would be ideal. I was looking around at the scenery as much as I was fishing as it was sunny for the most part of the day there. Then the thunderstorms were rolling in and we went to the lodge
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Default Denali Highway Trails

    It seems like it must have been a drier summer behind Eureka than here in Anchorage. The trails were not as muddy as I would have expected. Can anyone share if the the trails and streams along the Denali seem to show the same thing by not being as muddy or as high as expected based on the weather we have had in Anchorage and the Valley?

    Any reports of the trail conditions from along the Denali would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  20. #20
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    I just asked Jennifer and she said they aren't too bad. That country soaks up the water pretty fast, and even if you have puddles on the trails, most of them have solid bottoms. Haven't heard any of the guests complaining. Wish I was there to give you a first hand report.... I'm flying back from New Orleans on Sept 3rd! I can't wait! .... until I have to fly back down on Sept 21st....
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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