View Larger Map
I wanted to take a day off and the campground at Denali was nice but it was fully booked so we couldn’t extend our stay. Therefore we headed down the George Parks Highway about 1/2 hour to Cantwell.
The campground here is again the basic gravel parking lot but the people were very nice. When I couldn’t get a sat TV signal from the site they gave me, they just said pick one and even came out after to make sure everything was OK.
One nice thing is that there are poppies growing all around the sites.
We have been without any hookups for 8 days. The solar panels have been great at keeping us powered but we always have to be a bit more careful about what we turn on. After we hooked up here everything got plugged in to be recharged, cameras, phones, iPads, and laptops.
The WIFI is also great here. We were actually able to finally call our daughters and understand what they were saying. Our prepaid US cell phone doesn’t allow us to call to Canada so we rely on Skype. At previous places their internet was so bad the calls were unintelligible.
After setting up I looked at the weather forecast and decided tomorrow was the better day to take off. Today was supposed to be sunny all day but tomorrow called for rain in the afternoon.
I had planned to come to Cantwell anyway because I wanted to do a driving day trip on the Denali Highway. Before the Parks highway from Anchorage to Fairbanks was constructed, the Denali Highway was the only way to get to the park. It is 135 miles of dirt road. The road itself is not great with lots of pot holes and washboards. We couldn’t go much above 30 mph but didn’t really care because the scenery was amazing (there is that word again). We left at around lunch time.
Just outside of Cantwell you can see Denali from the south side but the clouds were not on our side again.
The first section of the road had lower mountains on either side.
One ridge had these strange horizontal stripes of snow. We never did get close enough to see why.
Then the road opens up and follows a ridge along some low hills on one side of a huge river valley. On the other side of the valley, surrounding you on three sides are some of the giant peaks of the Alaska Range. You really have to be there but put these two panoramas end to end to get the smallest idea of what it looked like. I wish you could see these pictures full size.
Some close ups. Lots of glaciers. We spent a lot of time here.
We crossed the river.
and then started climbing above the tree line. The road just seemed to go on forever.
We drove this for a while but by about 4:30 we were 80 miles in and the guide book said the next interesting place was about 30 miles away. It was time to turn around. We didn’t stop as much on the way back and went a bit faster but it was still 6:30 before we got back to the RV.
The Denali Highway ends at Paxson on the Richardson Highway. We will eventually drive through Paxson and may drive in from the other end to see what we missed.
It was a long day but definitely worth it.