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Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

MI
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Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

Planing on going to Fairbanks up from Anchorage via Denali but was wondering if the trip back down Highway 2 to Highway 4 and then Highway 1 was a good experience or going down 2 all the way to Tok and pick up Highway 1. Or should we swing back on 3 back to Anchorage and spend time doing other things.

How long would these take? Much to see or experience?

We are thinking of a car or possibly an RV.

Thanks

Noname
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1. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

If you ask Alaskans and frequent visitors about routes 2, 4, 1, 3, or whatever number you want to come up with, nobody really knows what routes you are talking about. Try to use names. Parks, Richardson, Glen, Alaska Highways. BTW, they are mostly two lanes roads not any superhighways.

What do you wish to experience on these roads?

How many days do you have to get from Fairbanks to Anchorage?

When are you traveling?

MI
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2. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

We have one or two days to get back to Anchorage. We will be there in the middle of June.

Noname
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3. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

I would be happy to share my ideas with you but can you tell me what roads, using names and not numbers, do you want to take?

Bristol, Connecticut
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4. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

Thanks Pat, I am ashamed to say I had to look up what the OP was talking about. The Denali Highway (4) cannot be accessed with a rental and some RV companies. So that will be a factor. The Richardson(2) to The Glenn(1) is doable and a very different drive than The Parks(3)I think the drive from Glennallen to Plamer on The Glenn is beautiful and you will also get many glimpses of the pipeline on The Richardson. What are you interested in doing along the way?

USA
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5. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

What? Our highways have numbers!!??

Oh yes that's right.

Hwy 1= The Glenn

Hwy 2= AK Hwy

Hwy 3= Parks Hwy.

Hwy 4= Richardson Hwy.

USA
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6. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

I think the Denali Hwy is actually Hwy 8, a bird watcher's heaven.

Natchitoches, LA
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7. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

Last September, we went up on the Parks Highway and back down on the Richardson and Glen. (We did not go to Tok.) We spent the night on the way back at the Tundra Rose cottages (near Sheep Mountain). We were really glad we took a different route back; the scenery was very different. We took our time from Fairbanks to the Tundra Rose. It took us about seven or eight hours with lots of stops for photos. Traffic was much lighter on the Richardson than it had been on the Parks. Have a great trip.

W. A. Robison

Bristol, Connecticut
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8. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

As proved by my previous post I have no clue about numbers and Alaska Highway names. This site does a great job of trying to explain it all:

mcgeheezone.com/adjustment/alaska/akhwys.htm

I should have looked there first

Ward, AR
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9. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

we went from Fairbanks all the way down on the Richardson to the Glenn hwy. you are surrounded on both sides by mountain ranges. very nice. Tok is quite a bit out of the way. no one really mentions the drive to Tok as being particularly scenic or memorable. if you have the extra time, you may want to drive on down the Richardson to Valdez. very scenic drive with waterfalls.

Alaska
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10. Re: Driving down from Fairbanks - best experience - Rt 2?

The new highway (by Denali) is 360 miles long, while the old highway is 460 miles, so you are looking at about 2 hours more driving time. There is NO question in my mind, the Old Highway (Richardson & Glen) is far more beautiful to drive than the new (Parks) highway!

Here is a writeup on the old highway I posted a while back, adding ideas from other posters as well.

FairbanksValdez (Richardson Highway)

It is about 360 miles up the new (Parks) highway to Fairbanks and 460 miles back the Old Highway (Richardson/Glenn) highway. By far the old highway is more beautiful!

Fairbanks and the Interior get more sunshine along with warmer, dryer weather than coastal Alaska. You will pass by / cross four different mountain ranges: the Alaska Range, Wrangels, Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains.

Fairbanks – Delta 100 miles

Delta - Miller Creeks (the earthquake zone) - 50 miles

Miller Creeks – Paxson 35 miles

Paxson – Tangle Lakes 20 miles

Paxson – Glennallen 75 miles

Glennallen – Copper Center 15 miles

Copper Center – Valdez 100 miles

Valdez – Anchorage 300 miles

Glennallen – Anchorage 180 miles

FAIRBANKS:

The heart of a gold rush, Fairbanks is great for the riverboat tour, the Pioneer Park with the old, original cabins. Often unmentioned as you approach Fairbanks from Denali Park, is the town of Ester, with gold fields with the Malamute Saloon.

From Fairbanks you can take the 60 mile one-way road to Chena Hot Springs. Chena Hot Springs is a great place to spend a night in a camper or a cabin and offers hot soak, a beautiful drive and great hikes along with likely moose close by.

If you are only in Fairbanks for a day, I recommend a car rental and day trip from the University Museum to Musk ox Farm (Large Animal farm today), out along Farmers Loop past the permafrost houses and sunken radio station, along Goldstream Road to Fox, perhaps a stop for lunch at the Turtle Club, Chatinika Gold Camp and the abandoned gold dredge across the street, and then return to Fairbanks along the Steese Highway and stop to look over the detailed pipeline display on the roadside. Summer of 2007 you will find a surprisingly large permafrost ice lens exposed on the cliff a few hundred feet north of the pipeline display, something few people get to see.

At first blush Pioneer Park may seem like a tourist trap, but it is an open air museum with original cabins from Old Fairbanks and has the riverboat Nenana there as well.

Heading out of town on the Richardson toward Delta you will pass through North Pole. It is best known for the all-year ‘Santa Clause House’. It is a good stop for shoppers and a chance to send postcards from NORTH POLE, Alaska. Farther down the road you pass by Chena Lakes Recreation Area, the product of a flood control project. Along the road to Delta you will be passing through old gold mining country and paralleling the pipeline. Plan on stopping several places to enjoy the scenery and to take a break.

DELTA:

You will go about 100 miles to Delta Junction. 5 miles south of there you will pass Ft Greely, where some of the missile defense facilities are located. Once in Isabelle Pass you pass "Galloping Gertie", the Black Rapids Glacier on the other side of the river valley. In the 1930's this glacier surged forward and almost cut off the river.

About 50 miles south of Delta keep your eye open for the Denali Earthquake fault between Upper and Lower Miller creeks. This is just south of pump station 10. You will see the pipeline with broad beams under the pipe so it can slide from side to side. You are also at the foot of the Castner and Canwell Glaciers, which will provide some hiking opportunity if you wish to see them close up and without a tour guide. As you leave there the next mountain ridge to the left is Rainbow Ridge. When the road makes a turn to the right (west) and leaves the ridge, there is a turnout on the right shoulder. Stop there and look back to see why they named "Rainbow Ridge" as they did.

PAXSON – about 176 miles from Fairbanks

The Paxson area is a great place to stop. Glennallen is fine, but it is a 'big town' down in the forest. You will see more staying up in the Paxson area with the more open transition of tundra and taiga (boreal forest).

In the vicinity of Paxson there are two high quality places I can recommend for overnighting. Just a few hundred yards up the paved portion of the Denali Highway are the "Denali Highway Cabins" or "Paxson Alpine Cabins" www.denalihwy.com and just another 15 miles south along the highway is Meier's Lake Roadhouse - Atwater's Chateau Motel.

TANGLE LAKES / DENALI HIGHWAY

This little side trip will take you up into high, glacier formed territory and at 16.4 mile you enter the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District, with over 400 archaeological sites in the area (nothing for tourism that I am aware of, however).

From history, archeology and travels in Europe I have always pictured this terrain as typical of Europe as the glaciers were retreating and our ancestors were chucking spears at mastodon and deer. Looking out at the colorful tundra with the mountains and glaciers, lakes and rolling landscape in front of you, it is easy to imagine the days when these great beasts roamed very similar areas along with our ancestors. Then you are rewarded with the beauty of the drive back to Paxson as you head east, back to the main highway.

From Paxson to Glennallen you may well experience what permafrost does to highways. Take it easy and enjoy the rolls and the bumps. Oh, you may encounter a bit of the same permafrost at work north of Healy after you cross the green (?) bridge at Rex and proceed to Nenana. Look for the leaning power poles as well, with braces to hold the poles up in the warming permafrost. I used to drive that road straddling the centerline so no matter which way it tossed me I would have time to recover and stay on the road. Of course traffic and chosen speed have a lot to do with how the car reacts.

GLENALLEN

Then on the drive down you can always stop in Glennallen for information & lunch.

COPPER CENTER

Heading south of Glennallen to Valdez, cut off onto the "Old Highway" and drive to Copper Center. You will pass through an Indian village along the way you would bypass if you stayed on the main highway. Your reward is a cup of coffee, a meal or an overnight at the romantic (this is a good time to be nice to your wife, yes?) night at the historic Copper Center Roadhouse. It is a beautiful place with great people.

The newer Princess Lodge got rave reviews from visitors I had last year. They loved the room, the view and the friendly service, and found the price very little more than what they paid elsewhere for ho-hum lodging.

Well, that is a quick cut and paste of old ideas. I hope it gives you an idea of what you can look for!

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