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Denali Hwy 8

Veebyes
Explorer II
Explorer II
After doing the usual roads & sights multiple times I think that this year really will be our last trip to Alaska. Said that three times before.

There are few roads, paved or maintained gravel, which have been missed but the Denali hwy is one of them. Thinking along the lines of a two day transit, east to west, & looking for suggestions for camping sites.

So far Google Earth, even using street view, has not yielded much.

We are 55'LOA so pulling out at any little siding is not going to work.

Suggestions?
Boat: 32' 1996 Albin 32+2, single Cummins 315hp
40+ night per year overnighter

2007 Alpenlite 34RLR
2006 Chevy 3500 LT, CC,LB 6.6L Diesel

Ham Radio: VP9KL, IRLP node 7995
11 REPLIES 11

PA12DRVR
Explorer
Explorer
AKsilvereagle wrote:



Paxson Lodge (east end junction of Denali highway) over the years was hit and miss for fuel availability -

Open and maybe fuel available -
Open and maybe NO fuel available
Closed up for business
Reopened for business and maybe fuel available
Reopened for business but no fuel available
Closed for business again, etc, etc....

The Denali Highway is truly scenic in every aspect as I have also taken on both directions of travel, and in my opinion it is a bit more scenic and enjoyable while viewing the trip enroute from east to west direction as you deal with the more rugged half side first and have more downhill and less ascend in the westbound direction from MacLaren Summit - the only minus grade from east to west direction of travel here would be if one were to commute during the time of 900pm and later, as the sun will be staring right at you for 2 to 3 hours until it lowers toward the horizon....

The Denali Highway route also has the least amount of general traffic and hardly any commercial traffic at all out of all the Alaskan "major highway" routes too, even less traffic busy than the Dalton and Taylor Highway remote routes as you get the least "I'm Joe blow and I'm in a hurry" type of drivers from behind to deal with.

This posted message is from YOUR - 2023 Nenana Ice Classic Winner !!!!


Paxson Lodge was closed (and appeared to be decaying) in 2018, the last time I made the trip from that end. I think it's done, but the summary quoted is spot on at least from 1974 - 2010 when I went through the area much more frequently.

When I was driving across the Denali more frequently (granted, always in a pickup), I made a point to fill up at either Cantwell or Paxson and to fill the 20 gallons of gas cans in the back. In many parts of Alaska, the gentle ribbing us older guys get for always having spare gas and running of the top 1/2 of the tank is justified. On the Denali? Not so much....As noted, once you hit Paxson, you might have gas either on the highway or in Cantwell: Going the other way? Add 80 miles to the 135 highway miles before being at all certain of fuel.

Definitely agree on the scenic status of the Denali and agree that (barring a late evening drive), it is somehow more enjoyable East to West.

...and the Denali has a way of karma-cizing the Joe Blow's who must pass you and blow your doors off.

Congrats on the Nenana win. That's fantastic.
CRL
My RV is a 1946 PA-12
Back in the GWN

MORSNOW
Traveler III
Traveler III
AKsilvereagle wrote:
This posted message is from YOUR - 2023 Nenana Ice Classic Winner !!!!


Congratulations! That's like being royalty in the Fairbanks area!
2014 Wolf Creek 850SB
2012 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD 7,220# Truck/10,400# Camper Fully Loaded

AKsilvereagle
Explorer II
Explorer II
Although I haven't driven the entire Denali Highway since 2001, I doubt much has changed at all....

The eastern half of the Denali Highway route has always been quite a bit rougher than the western side, as it can get pretty rough along the MacLaren Summit corridor....

Especially if it rains hard, or after a significant rainfall - the entire unpaved portions of the Denali Highway can be just plain rough period - and particularly along the MacLaren Summit area during rainfall are known to have poor to zero visibility conditions also as I got caught up in that more than one time....

Two to three days is generally ideal to experience passing thru the entire Denali Highway upon excellent to light rain type weather conditions while taking your time as I drive pretty slow thru this stretch with my old 1970 Ford Truck and cabover camper on it (5 to 10 mph if needed) as I would generally average in the low 20 mph range on the unpaved portions that were not rough....

I would say wear and tear will not be an issue if one would allow "in general normal conditions" 6 hours driving time on the unpaved portions and a total of 7 to 8 hours total driving time on the entire 135 mile route.

I would allow an extra day stretch of travel along the Denali Highway upon bad weather conditions of three to four days time while leasuring in between - for those who care about their rigs and not constraint for travel time.

As the other posts were spot on, large area turnouts and parking to accommodate a large rig are limited, however one should appear no more than a 30 mile gap distance at the most (safely for a large rig) if my memory serves right....

As far as for other potential travelers reading this post taking on the Denali Highway regarding fuel distances as being a concern, my sound advice would be to always carry extra spare fuel and ONLY count on fuel supply available in Cantwell (west end of Denali Highway) and Delta Junction (81 miles from east end of Denali Highway)....

Rule of thumb for those upon traveling in the far north of Canada and Alaska :

Never truly rely on fuel supply from any remote location of a lodge or roadhouse for even those handful of remote reputable places who know how to pay their bills and have a great credit line for automatic fuel delivery, as there have been more than enough times where the fuel companies themselves are the major problem upon delayed delivery or supply issues as these remote out of the way places are not priority for fuel deliveries when those logistic glitches happen.

Paxson Lodge (east end junction of Denali highway) over the years was hit and miss for fuel availability -

Open and maybe fuel available -
Open and maybe NO fuel available
Closed up for business
Reopened for business and maybe fuel available
Reopened for business but no fuel available
Closed for business again, etc, etc....

The Denali Highway is truly scenic in every aspect as I have also taken on both directions of travel, and in my opinion it is a bit more scenic and enjoyable while viewing the trip enroute from east to west direction as you deal with the more rugged half side first and have more downhill and less ascend in the westbound direction from MacLaren Summit - the only minus grade from east to west direction of travel here would be if one were to commute during the time of 900pm and later, as the sun will be staring right at you for 2 to 3 hours until it lowers toward the horizon....

The Denali Highway route also has the least amount of general traffic and hardly any commercial traffic at all out of all the Alaskan "major highway" routes too, even less traffic busy than the Dalton and Taylor Highway remote routes as you get the least "I'm Joe blow and I'm in a hurry" type of drivers from behind to deal with.

This posted message is from YOUR - 2023 Nenana Ice Classic Winner !!!!
1975 Ford F250 2WD Ranger XLT (Owned June 2013)
460 V8- C6 Trans- 3.73:1 (196K Total Mi)
2000 Fleetwood Angler 8ft Cabover
Air Lift 1000 (Front)
Hellwig 3500 lb Helper Springs (rear)
Hellwig Front and Rear Sway Bars
Goodyear G971 LT Series (siped)

PA12DRVR
Explorer
Explorer
Unfortunately, maintenance of the Denali Highway is not a priority for Alaska DoT/PF. That being said, most of the gravel roads get a fair amount of attention after breakup as the roads open up for the summer....and with the snowpack and slow spring much of the state is experiencing, the Denali might get scraped a time or two just in time to be relatively smooth for mid-to late-summer travels.

The key (as it has been since my first trip across whilst dodging dinosaurs 🙂 ) is to take it slow on that road. The couple of times that I've taken a leisurely drive across (either Cantwell >> Paxson or the other way), my least damaging trips have involved at least one if not two overnights on the road.
CRL
My RV is a 1946 PA-12
Back in the GWN

Veebyes
Explorer II
Explorer II
Fuel is one thing we are not especially concerned about. Two tanks. We can do over 500 miles between fuel stops on more or less level but of course higher speeds.

Really looking forward to that leg of the trip. Just hope that the road is in decent shape, not for speed, but for comfort & vehicle wear & tear.
Boat: 32' 1996 Albin 32+2, single Cummins 315hp
40+ night per year overnighter

2007 Alpenlite 34RLR
2006 Chevy 3500 LT, CC,LB 6.6L Diesel

Ham Radio: VP9KL, IRLP node 7995

fullmoonoversal
Explorer
Explorer
Veebyes wrote:
After doing the usual roads & sights multiple times I think that this year really will be our last trip to Alaska. Said that three times before.

There are few roads, paved or maintained gravel, which have been missed but the Denali hwy is one of them. Thinking along the lines of a two day transit, east to west, & looking for suggestions for camping sites.

So far Google Earth, even using street view, has not yielded much.

We are 55'LOA so pulling out at any little siding is not going to work.

Suggestions?


We have done the Denali Highway a couple times. There were pull off places all along the highway that we have used. If I remember correctly, there is one fuel station about 1/2 way through.

It is far from help, and when we needed help, GS could not figure out how to get to us. We had to change a tire by ourselves. Normally that would not be a problem, but my DH has a disablilty and it made things difficult.

It is a lovely drive. One of our favorites. I hope that you enjoy your trip there.
2017 Coachmen Galleria

snowedin
Explorer
Explorer
As far as scenery Hwy 8 can't be beat as the views are not obstructed by a steady wall of trees on both sides of the road. From the east there is pavement for aways, then good gravel road, and then a lesser maintained, rougher dirt/gravel road with potholes but don't be frightened away by the road conditions, just drive slow and enjoy the scenery. Stopping to overnight is a great idea. Play it by ear, it's an adventure. It was rough when I was on the road, lots of potholes so only drove 20-25 mph pulling a travel trailer. A newer road grader was sitting beside the road but obviously hadn't been used in awhile but should have been. Others may have driven the road when it was in better shape and could chime in with their experience. Cantwell RV Park on the west end of the Denali Hwy was a good stay for us. There were no services on the east end at Paxson so come prepared before getting to that point. It is an absolutely beautiful drive with sweeping views. Wouldn't mind doing it again as we encountered some rain which cut some of the views.

MORSNOW
Traveler III
Traveler III
Veebyes wrote:
The resolution on Google Earth is not good but I think I have spotted the two gravel pits just a little east of the bridge.

One of those should do just fine for a night or two.


The first one is Valdez Mine Road and the second one to the east is Windy Creek. Both are safe places to camp and visit with others.
2014 Wolf Creek 850SB
2012 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD 7,220# Truck/10,400# Camper Fully Loaded

Veebyes
Explorer II
Explorer II
The resolution on Google Earth is not good but I think I have spotted the two gravel pits just a little east of the bridge.

One of those should do just fine for a night or two.
Boat: 32' 1996 Albin 32+2, single Cummins 315hp
40+ night per year overnighter

2007 Alpenlite 34RLR
2006 Chevy 3500 LT, CC,LB 6.6L Diesel

Ham Radio: VP9KL, IRLP node 7995

PA12DRVR
Explorer
Explorer
Can't help on the camping spots (as I've only used a pickup / -12 / tent on this road). Only recommendation that I'd have it to go slow. As MORSNOW indicated, there's limited "big" spots....maybe plan on 2 nights on the road? Dunno.

The Denali is, IMNSHO, the best of the road drives in Alaska for scenery and such. Of course, the Richardson down to Valdez is spectacular, the Haul Road can be very nice, and even the little old Parks (between Talkeetna and Clear) or the Glenn (between Palmer & Glennallen) offer some nice views, but for a road trip that is very do-able in summer, that is somewhat remote but not really, and that offers great vistas nearly everywhere, the Denali can't be beat.
CRL
My RV is a 1946 PA-12
Back in the GWN

MORSNOW
Traveler III
Traveler III
There are a few larger gravel pits that many of us have stayed in over the years. Windy Creek and Veldez Mine roads are both near the Susitna River crossing and are popular camping spots. Windy Creek has a large level gravel pit, Veldez Mine road has pull throughs and pull outs. The only Campground with electric is Alpine Creek Lodge which is almost exactly at the halfway point of the highway. Pic is in the Windy Creek pit.

2014 Wolf Creek 850SB
2012 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD 7,220# Truck/10,400# Camper Fully Loaded