Hike, Bike, Paddle and Explore along the Original Gateway to Denali National Park
Ten thousand years ago, hunters waited for the caribou around the Tangle Lakes, patiently chipping stones they would use as tools and weapons. A century ago, W. G. Jack struck gold near Valdez Creek, and within a few years, miners were pouring into the area. Mushers would soon run supplies to the gold camps along the dog-sled trail connecting Paxson and Cantwell. And when Denali National Park opened, the route became the gateway to the spectacular land surrounding North America’s highest peak.
Today the Denali Highway is an often overlooked treasure taking the traveler back to Alaska’s rich prehistoric past, it’s colorful gold rush history and the awesome wilderness that remains throughout much of the state. No longer the primary route to Denali National Park, the highway is lightly traveled on the 133 miles between Paxson and Cantwell. Gravel after the first 21 miles, the road is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, either behind the wheel or atop a bicycle. Travelers should plan for plenty of sidetrips? to explore archaeological sites, paddle wild rivers or hike the alpine tundra.