7/29/2014 – 131 mi – Denali Highway!
If you are not familiar, the Denali Highway is not in Denali national park, but is 130 mi of dirt road that runs through amazingly scenic country between Cantwell and Paxson AK, neither of which are actual places with services (ok not true, Cantwell has fuel, places to stay, and a Café. Paxson is just an intersection).
After a leisurely breakfast in The Perch’s restaurant (amazing food by the way, entirely worth the fairly steep price), we didn’t actually get on the road until 11am. Then we stopped for gas in Cantwell, and then again not much later to re-layer because we had too many on, having forgotten what it’s like to ride when it’s not 40s and raining. Then there was much stopping for picture taking, and time spent behind slow vehicles (I was passing people on a dirt road, so you know they were slow). Basically, we spent the day on vacation time, and loved it (except for the brief construction).
The weather today is warm and sunny, and we have a blast riding over the Denali highway. It feels good to be on the bikes again, after almost a week of very little riding.
Here are some bicyclists we caught on video on the way out of Cantwell:
There are apparently no grocery stores anywhere in the 30 mi between Denali NP and Cantwell, so we couldn’t re-supply on lunch food. We solved that problem the night before by ordering a gigantic pizza, and eating the leftovers for lunch. (Kept it in the fridge overnight, aka the trunk of Kevin’s moto, which is outside, where it’s cold all the time.). Our picnic spot couldn’t get any better.
We saw a young bull moose in the road, and the fool critter took quite a bit of time running away from us up the road before he figured out how to get off the road. We went slow, and weren’t intentionally stressing him; we were just going that way. If I weren’t lazy, I’d figure out how to set the soundtrack to these videos to yakety sax.
Denali highway is just fantastic. The weather was so good, we stopped short around 4pm at the Tangled River campground just shy of Paxson, because we wanted to camp in such an amazing place. No other motos in the campground this time, just us and the RVs. We did see a whole bunch of KLRs on the road rented from Moto Quest, and the Moto Quest chase vehicle headed the other way, plus a few requisite BMW GS’s, and a V-Strom or 2, so moto count for the Denali is high today.
One of the Moto Quest groups:
The picture does not do justice to how windy it was down by the water. The campground in general was quite windy, although our campsite was fairly sheltered. The short trail down to the water was not too bad until you turned the final corner right at the water’s edge. It was hard to stand there and take a picture.
More beautiful weather and fantastic views as we finish riding on the paved section of the Denali Highway and head south towards Glenallen. If you like to ride at all, Denali Highway is a must do.
The part of the Glenn Highway in the mountains along the Matanuska River is a great ride. I’ll reiterate that most of the west doesn’t really have great riding roads. The views are often fantastic, but for fun moto riding, I’ll take the southern Appalachians any day over anything we’ve seen anywhere else. This section of the Glenn Highway is more like riding near home. I actually got to lean into some turns, and wished I had my street tires back on.
For tonight, we’ve once again lucked out and found a total stranger willing to host some dirty biker trash for a night. A friend of my Uncle’s is stationed here, and she took us in and fed and entertained us for the evening, despite needing to be at work early the next day (doing important work in the medical field that I would find impossibly stressful). She rides too (and flys!), so at least we don’t seem totally crazy (well….for taking a moto trip anyway….).