The 134-mile Denali Highway is the scenic route (read yet another mostly gravel highway) to travel toward Denali National Park and Preserve. In case you haven’t noticed, Jorge and I prefer to take any road less traveled, especially the dirt ones!
Many tourists use the paved Parks Highway directly from Fairbanks. You see, most people fly to Fairbanks or Anchorage and rent cars to see the sights. The typical rental car companies do not allow driving on the gravel roads. In fact, there are only two companies that allow rentals on highways like the Dawson. Be aware of this if you also plan to make the trip to Prudhoe Bay.
Caribou season opened this week, and the road to Denali was packed with hunters. Hundreds of hunters, really. They set up encampments along the road in any wild camp spot possible, parking campers, truck trailers, pop-up tents, portable potties, wooden hanging racks, American flags and four-wheelers. As they perched along the side of the highway in the front seat of big trucks, searching for the elusive caribou with powerful binoculars, we wondered if we would be able to find a quiet spot to enjoy the scenery.
As we reached the MacLaren Summit, we couldn’t believe the beauty of the area. Surrounded by the mountains of the picturesque Alaskan Range, we looked in the rear-view mirrors and realized that every direction offered something remarkable. We spend so much time looking forward. Sometimes it is important to look back…As we considered where we had been and where we were headed, we felt such gratitude – nature has so much to offer.
For the first time this trip, we chose to set up camp before 9 PM and were happy to come upon the Brushkana Campground. It was full of hunters, but also had room for a few travelers. The wild sites were packed with what appeared to be hunters only, while Brushkana housed hunting families – pit toilets are a plus when camping with kids. People are always curious when we set up our Tepui…not many have seen these roof top sensations. We are happy to show them our stuff, explain how it works, and tell them about our journey.
Day 15 – 180 mi…Don’t forget to look in the rear-view mirror!