Off The Grid Road Trippin in Denali State Park
Favorite thing: There are actually two favorite activities I have in Denali State Park. The first is going on scenic road trips on the back roads of the park, and the second is gold prospecting. They go hand-in-hand! But the same could be said for numerous other activities.
The most scenic road system is the Old Denali Road which runs between Cantwell and Paxon about 136 miles apart on a fairly well-maintained dirt road. This is where you will see the most wildlife, both in number and variety. But most people touring the area skip right by it, or take scenic flight tours 5,000 - 10,000 in altitude or better. Not the best way to view wildlife or the wicked rock formations.
It's a long bumpy road, and chances are you will get a flat tire, I know I have had quite a few on that road myself!
I've seen bears, wolves, moose, and countless smaller creatures along this road.
But it gets even better depending on how daring of an individual you are! 1/2 mile past the Susitna river bridge at mile 79, there is an unmarked road on the left which is known as the Valdez Creek road. This road goes 17 miles to the end. You will most likely need a 4X4 to reach the top, or if you are into hiking that far there is Roosevelt lake which is surrounded by three or so extinct volcanos. The busted cones/calderas are obvious. There are alke trout here that reach over two feet in length! This is most likely due to the fact that Roosevelt lake is extremely deep.
Along the Valdez creek road you will cross multiple mining claims. You have every right to do so as long as you aren't infringing on anyone's mineral rights. You will undoubtedly run across claim owners. If you want a chance to convince them to allow you to explore their claim, my advice based off of what I've done before is simple. Carry along a spare 24 pack of beer or bottle of decent liquor. Once diplomacy moves positively in your favor, the claim owner will likely require a 20% cut in good faith. My father found a six ounce gold nugget in this area in 1989. Since the area was discovered in 1906, over 600,000 ounces have been recovered.
Even more wildlife is to be seen typically in the Valdez Creek system due to greater isolation. Watch for bears, many miners have reported seeing grizzlies approaching 14 feet tall. Not wrestling match you want to find yourself in! I recommend carrying a gun. It should be something with a damn good punch! Or if you don't like guns, or can't have one, then stop by a fireworks stand in Big Lake near Wasilla, or up in Fairbanks and buy Black Cat firecrackers. They work great! You can buy 1,000 for like $3!
Fondest memory: During the 2004/2005 seasons I was an employee for Mckinley Creekside Cabins at Carlo Creek, mile 224 of the George Parks highway. Every single night there is a bonfire here, where employees of many lodges come to socialize along with hotel guests from around the park. I have visited many summers since then and they do the same thing today. And on Memorial Day Creekside Cabins hosts their annual "Chili cookoff" where contestants compete for cash prizes. About 500 people show. The owners supply around 5 - 10 kegs of beer which people over 21 can enjoy for about $2.00 per serving. This is one of the most enjoyable events for many during the summer season in Denali.
Should you decide to drink one of the many bars around the park, don't drink and drive! Should you need a taxi there, I will be one of the only, if not the ONLY traditional cab services operating between Cantwell and Healy. And I will be available after March 03, 2013.
If you have any questions, or want any advice don't hesitate to call me.
Pictured is one of the cabs you will see around the park.
Call dispatch line shown in photo, or me directly
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Chulitna River valley
Favorite thing: The Chulitna River is the famous watercourse that cleaves the mighty forests in the foreground looking northward from Denali Viewpoint South, but despite its broad dimensions, the river fractures into smaller channels near Troublesome Creek campground (just a few miles farther north). Trails to the river start from the campground hub and others nearby, but check with park or state officials on fishing regulations.
- Hiking and Walking
Favorite thing: In a state dominated by the many varieties of spruce, Denali State Park has its share of cottonwoods. These towering giants in the right season will shed their cottony tufts on windy days so that the ground takes on the aspect of an open-air laundromat. This particular cottonwood is one of the best known in the state, given the marquee that sits at its foot and describes its dimensions.