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The Denali Highway is a road between Cantwell on the Parks Highway and Paxson on the Richardson Highway. Of the 135 miles, 115 is dirt although it is in pretty good shape.
After we had visited Denali National Park we stopped in Cantwell and drove in about 80 miles of the western side of the highway. The view were amazing and from the description of the eastern side I knew we would want to see it.
So we drove up the Richardson Highway and planted the RV at the Sourdough Campground.
It’s not much to look at. All short pine tree and after we setup I looked around our site and it was all water. Needless to say the bugs were bad and Jennie kept indoors as much as possible.
I had originally planned to drive up here today, just hang out and drive the Denali Highway tomorrow but I looked at the weather forecast this morning and the outlook was not good. So, we got here about 11:30, had lunch and headed off in the CRV 40 miles farther up the Richardson Highway to Paxson. It was good thing we switched to the CRV because about 1 mile north of the campground turnoff we encountered 11 miles of road construction and torn up dirt road.
The Richardson Highway was not very scenic. It it actually quite rough with lots of dips that really made the RV bounce around and even got the CRV jumping.
Once we got on the Denali Highway we gradually climbed up about 1000 feet and the tree disappeared to give us more very open long distance views.
We stopped at a viewpoint with a bus load of people on a Princess tour. We always check out the info boards even though they are getting kind of repetitive.
More glaciers way off in the distance.
On to the dirt section. Personally I like the partly cloudy days because the sky is so much more interesting.
A view through a gap in the mountains to the north to the lower country.
As you can tell I love these pictures of things and people silhouetted against the sky.
We stopped about 40 miles in, at 4000 foot Maclaren Summit for a hike. We checked later with the GPS and the valley floor is about 1000 feet below us. It is very hard to judge distances without any references.
The hike run along the ridge top first for about 1.5 miles on a chewed up ATV trail.
The guide book said the trail continued on a foot path for a total of about 2 miles one way. The point was to get a view of the glaciers in the mountain valleys behind Jennie. We assumed that the trail went to that point of land about dead center in the picture above. Nope. When we drove to the valley floor later, it turned out that it was at least 6 miles away, if not more.
On to the footpath.
Even though we were in sunshine, across the valley to the west this was looming.
We checked the wind direction and it seemed that it should miss us but we packed our rain gear anyway.
The trail kept going down into little valleys so we lost track of our supposed target. We thought it was the second hill in the distance below.
This guy was really moving when he passed us. When he got to our “destination” he disappeared as he kept going. Bad sign.
Once we got there we figured we had gone about 3 miles based on the 1.5 mile distance to the start of the footpath section. It started to sprinkle a bit here. Time for us and another group already there to break out the rain gear.
Below was the somewhat depressing view forward to what we think was the actual end.
By now it was shrouded in rain and at the time, I looked at it and then back to the car and said “Man (or words to that effect), that is still a long way off”. As I wrote it was about 3 miles away.
With the zoom on Jennie’s camera we took some shots of the glaciers anyway.
Then we headed back.
The rain soon started in earnest. Not really hard but constant enough that I learned that my jacket is water resistant and not water proof.
The other group had continued and when we looked back all I could say was that I hoped they had very good rain gear.
After we got back to the car and warmed up a bit, we drove down into the valley to see what the hike looked like from down there.
The arrow on the right is where we started. The middle arrow is where we think we got to, although the bumps on the ridge look very much alike from down here, and you now what the arrow on the left is.
By now it was 5 o’clock and we were tired so we headed back towards the RV into the sunshine.
As we were heading back through the construction we realized we had missed some views this morning of the north side of 14000 foot Mount Drum to the south. We could also see it in the north from our previous campsite in Kenny Lake.
We finally got back at about 7 pm. It was a day of great scenery but a long one. Two hours of driving the RV, 4 hours driving the CRV and the hike.
The CRV got a bit dirty.
Later that night it got a lot darker and cloudier.
As I am writing this the next day, during the night it rained a bit and the next morning was very gloomy so I am glad we went when we did.