Denali Highway

Driving the Denali Highway  

The Denali Highway is the original road the lead to the Denali National Park now most people drive up the Park highway from Anchorage and miss one of the best scenic drives in Alaska. The highway runs 135 miles from Paxson to Cantwell and has some of the most spectacular scenery you will see anywhere. The Denali Highway is a must for anyone that wants to see the real Alaska. You have probably never been so alone in your life

After having a great couple of days at the Denali Highway Cabins in Paxson we woke up early and headed down the Denali Highway. We had set aside the entire day to drive the 135 miles and it was a good thing, it took us over 13 hours to drive the entire route and get to the Katishna Cabins just outside of Denali National Park.


The road is only paved for the first 25 miles to the Tangle River Inn, after that, the road is a gravel road but it is not that bad if you drive slowly, which is the only way to go since you will want to see it all. Keep an eye out all the time for wildlife as you can see just about anything from caribou to grizzly bear and everything in between. You would think that you would see wildlife everywhere but the terrain is very deceiving, everything is farther away than you think and the brush is taller than you think. So you have to keep a keen eye out and you will be rewarded. We were lucky enough to see many caribou and one grizzly. We were even able to catch a few grayling along the way. I think we could have spent the entire vacation on the Denali Highway!



If you plan it right you will be at mile post 42 just in time for some great food and drink at the Maclaren River Lodge witch is the last sign of civilization for about the next 80 miles. The highway is only open from mid-May to October 1st so plan accourdingly. There are many resources online or in print that will give you mile by mile references to the highway so I won’t get into that but here are a few links that will be helpful.

Denali Highway Cabins


Maclaren River Lodge


To get the latest information on the Denali Road condition, phone 511 in the state of Alaska, phone 1-866-282-7577 outside of the state. Or check the web at

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