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Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

Johns Creek, GA
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Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

Hello All - We're planning on spending two days in the area, one devoted to flightseeing in Denali and a second one on our own. We're planning on renting a car in Anchorage. I'm concerned about the limitations on taking rental cars on gravel roads. Do we need to have a gravel road-capable vehicle to drive into Denali State Park and the areas outside of town? Can anyone recommend a scenic route that would fill the day and end up back in Anchorage? We're pretty adventurous.



Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

Hello Frank and welcome to the forum. Of course, I would be amiss if I didn't recommend you coming to Denali National Park for a few days . . . especially if you like scenery and wild animals. But I don't think you need to worry about driving on the gravel roads - other than a few in/around Talkeetna area, you won't be getting off the main road - the Parks Highway. Denali state park doesn't really have any roads leading into it, though there are areas along the Parks Hwy that you can pull off, park and then go hiking. Byers lake is a good area for that. You could also drive the Petersville rood for some good views of the southern side of Denali and I believe it's paved, though I have yet to do that myself, though I want to do that every summer when I drive past it.

As you head south back to Anchorage, you could also drive up to Hatcher Pass, though go via the Wasilla side to avoid the dirt roads.

Hopefully, some others will chime in with some other suggestions for you - good luck! :)

Ward, AR
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2. Re: Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

stop in at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge for a great view from their back deck of Mt's Hunter, Foraker and Mckinley. drive all the way to the end of Main St to see a beautiful sunset river view.

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3. Re: Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

frank...you need to check with the rental car company regarding driving on gravel roads...most restrict this. The intent is to keep you off the longer gravel roads which do occur in certain places. A map will indicate these. Generally, a short gravel road of a block or two (Talkeetna and other small communities) is not a problem. Its the roads where you can clip along at 50-60 mph they are concerned about...denali highway, road to McCarthy, Steese Highway (Fairbanks) etc ; but it dosen't sound like these will be encountered with your specific travel plan.

Round trip Anchorage to Denali with a stop in Talkeetna is about 600+ miles; but all paved-two lane. You can only drive a short distance into Denali National Park. The best bet is to take the bus trip toward Wonder Lake in the park. However, I'm not sure this can be done in a day, unless you are REALLY adventurous. You will be driving early morning until late night. Better plan on two days or reduce your itenerary.

Happy Travels

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4. Re: Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

I've done the Petersville road back past the roadhouse to South Denali several times. The views of the mountain are incredible from that side. It's a great place to wilderness camp with the mountain out & no people.

However, it is not for the casual tourist in a rental.

The road not only is not paved, but one June we had trouble with our 4X4 landcruiser tank due to mud, deep crevasses in the road bed, washouts, etc.

Another time we felt a slight bit threatened back there by a poacher who had just poached a black bear on his 4 wheeler.

I would never miss Denali National Park if I was up that way. Even just going on a shuttle back to the new Eielson & back out is well worth it in my humble opinion.

5. Re: Touring by Car in Talkeetna / South Denali

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