Week 6: The Denali Highway

You might think the Denali Highway is the good road from Anchorage to Denali National Park, but in fact it is a mostly gravel road, only open in summer, between the tiny towns of Paxson and Cantwell. Before the Parks Highway was completed in the early 1970s, the Denali Highway was the only road access to Denali National Park. 

We spent 2 nights at Tangle Lakes BLM campground, which was quite windy (good for keeping mosquitos away, bad if you want to kayak on the lake). There is an easy short hike with great views from the campground.

Next we stayed in the camping area at the Clearwater Lodge. All the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, but everything except the camping fee was crazy expensive ($9/gallon gas, $15 hot dog!) We spent some time hanging out and playing cribbage with a retired bush pilot in the tiny on-site bar, and, of course, added our signed dollar bills to the collection on the walls/ceiling. On our last morning we woke up to see a mama and baby moose walk by.

There were a surprising number of Air Force jets flying over this part of Alaska from the Eielson Air Force base outside of Fairbanks. This is one of the only places they are allowed to break the sound barrier. We happened to be here during a thunderstorm, and it was really hard to tell which was thunder, and which was a sonic boom. We were told by the owners of the lodge that periodically the sonic booms from the jets will break their windows.

Unfortunately the mosquitos were horrible here, and smoke from over 100 fires started impacting our trip this week. Almost 2 million acres in Alaska have already burned this year.

Random week 6 observation: a surprising number of Europeans bring their RV with them. So far I’ve seen 3 small RVs with German plates, and 1 with French plates. I asked one of the Germans about it, and she said its fairly common for folks from Europe bring their RV over, and everyone comes in via Halifax.

The full set of photos for week 6 can be found here.

Tangle Lakes Campground
The Sluice Box Bar
Morning visitors

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