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Denali Highway?

Houston
8 posts
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Denali Highway?

We're coming to Alaska in July and had initially planned to drive from Anchorage to Denali for a few days. As we leave the Denali area, we were thinking about taking the Denali Highway over to Paxson, spending the night and and then heading down to Valdez. I've read that the Denali Highway can be just as good of an experience as taking the shuttle into the park. Any thoughts on this? (BTW - we're traveling with two kids, age 8 and 10)

Yukon, Canada
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1,218 posts
6 reviews
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1. Re: Denali Highway?

>>I've read that the Denali Highway can be just as good of an experience as taking the shuttle into the park. <<

The 2 are very different experiences. While the Denali Highway has great scenery and no crowds (to say the least!), you don't get to see Denali herself (the mountain), and if you see any animals at all it will be a tiny fraction of what youy'll see in the park.

If you're renting a vehicle of any kind, be aware that most companies don't permit their vehicles to be driven on the Denali Highway (or any other gravel road).

Murray

pine hill, nj
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305 posts
115 reviews
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2. Re: Denali Highway?

We drove the Denali hwy. a few years ago. We didn't see any wildlife, but the views were beautiful to say the least. Luckily, dollar rent a car(who does not allow you to drive the d hwy) does however offer windshield and tire insurance because Alaska is known for their (supposedly)bad roads. For the first time ever, I actually got insurance, and sure enough a passing car going too fast kicked up some rocks, and we were left with a small knick in the windshield. By the end of the trip, the crack was the width of the windshield. It was worth the insurance, and we never worried the whole time about it. We are again driving from Healy to Valdez via the Denali Hwy., we obviously think the drive is worth it........so is the insurance.

Houston
8 posts
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3. Re: Denali Highway?

Great feedback. Thanks so much! I will definitely get the insurance. How long did the drive take you?

Yukon, Canada
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1,218 posts
6 reviews
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4. Re: Denali Highway?

Paxson to Cantwell is 135 miles - figure on 6 hours to allow for stops including a picnic lunch.

pine hill, nj
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305 posts
115 reviews
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5. Re: Denali Highway?

I would agree that it takes about 5-6 hours. The road was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. However, I think it's a roll of the dice and we were just lucky. I've been told that some years it is worse than others, and if there's a bad rain, it can really do a number on the road. I read that you want to drive it in July. When in July? We are doing the last 2 weeks in June. I can drop you a line and give you a heads up. Also, make sure you pack some lunches just in case it takes too long for the kids. I believe there is a little place in the middle that serves food. Can't remember specifics, but I can find out for you. In any event, it's still good to pack food.

Houston
8 posts
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6. Re: Denali Highway?

Thanks so much fo r the offer Tripgirl. We are going the first two weeks in July - starting on the 2nd - so the timing for some feedback after your trip should be perfect. I am wondering, though, whether we should just drive North to Fairbanks from Denali, spend the night and then take the full next day to drive from Fairbanks down to Valdez. If lodging is easy to come by in Fairbanks, perhaps we will leave ourselves open to go either way depending on weather and road conditions.

7. Re: Denali Highway?

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