Has been a little while since the last update. Sorry about that, and don’t jump to any conclusion of us being lazy… Alaska is a big state, and it is a loooong way between the internet access points! After McCarthy we drove the Denali Highway over to the Denali Park, then to Fairbanks, north towards the beginning of the James Dalton Highway, and had a detour into Manley Hotsprings that turned out not to be a detour at all. More about that later.
From the gravel road going back from McCarty, we got onto Highway 4 from Valdez, and drove north. We had a quick stop in Glennallen to fill up with fuel and food, and also got some Chicken Cashew and noodle dishes from a purple Thai food trailer next to the gas station. Delicious! If you see this trailer in or around Tok – go for it! Here we also bumped into some guys from Anchorage driving heavily modified Toyota Landcruisers. Turned out that they had been out scouting for a Landcruiser event in Tok the following weekend. Looked really muddy… We’ll see if we can coordinate driving through Tok this weekend. Would be fun to have a closer look.
So! From Glennallen we headed north to the start of Denali Highway. It is a gravel road going west over the mountains from Paxon, and it ends up just a few kilometers south of the entrance to the Denali National Park. This is a beautiful mountain pass, and on clear days it is possible to see the Mount McKinley/Mount Denali (highest peak in North America) from parts of the road. That didn’t work out for us, though, but the landscape is breathtaking. When we crossed over it was still early in the season, and there were not too many other travellers on the road. This also meant that most of the turnouts were empty, and we camped on the most scenic of them all.
The evening was spent watching a couple of beavers doing their beaver-things in the small lake just next to our camp, accompanied with a couple of very good Alaska Ale. We also noticed a lot of moose dumps around the camp spot, but no encounters with big animals so far. The only wildlife bugging us (besides the bugs...) was a ground squirrel a little too interested in our breakfast the next morning.
Closer to the west end of the road is a nice little gravel road going up into the mountains a little bit further north. This is a state road with public access, but mostly used by miners. It was an interesting drive, and we tried to shoot some video of the trip. If we can figure out our video editing software, there will be some posts with video clips on our page shortly.
Spent the night in the “city” at the entrance of Denali Park (Denali Rainbow Village), by locals often referred to as Glitter Gulch, as it is mostly souvenir shops there. We also saw some rafting companies, motels, and RV parks. Noisy place, and the water tasted funny… Continued north from here the next morning, and decided to check out the Stampede Trail before heading up to Fairbanks for more supplies.