Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Denali Highway

One of the highlights of my Alaska trip was traveling the Denali Highway on our way from Denali National Park to Valdez, where we planned to go out on a glacier / wildlife cruise on Prince William Sound. From Denali National Park we drove about a half hour south on the Parks Highway to Cantwell, where the Denali Highway begins. The Denali Highway is a 135 mile road that extends from Cantwell in the west, all the way to the Richardson Highway at the town of Paxon in the East. It is a dirt road except for the last 20 miles near Paxon, which is paved. It is suggested that vehicles travel at a speed of 30mph, and on most of the road that's about as fast as you can go. It's such a beautiful drive that one would hardly want to travel any faster anyway.

The scenery is spectacular, and you find yourself wanting to stop frequently to take pictures. We didn't really have a lot of time for that, so we agreed beforehand that we would only make about a half dozen stops. I found myself often shooting from the moving vehicle, taking multiple shots and hoping to get at least one good one of each scene I attempted to photograph.

The terrain is varied along the route, as you drive through forests as well as wide open plains flanked by snow capped mountains. There are places were you are looking down into valleys with kettle ponds which often reflect the scenery behind them to make for an interesting photo. Near the end, there are higher mountains with glaciers sitting between some of the peaks.

When we reached the of the highway at Paxon, we headed south on the Richardson Highway toward Valdez, and we made a stop at the Worthington Glacier, which is very close to the highway.

8066 - Worthington Glacier
The photos posted here are a sample of the views we saw during this amazing drive. I have posted a few more on my photo web page, and they can be seen by clicking here

The next post will describe our glacier & wildlife cruise on Prince William Sound.

Map of Denali Highway


  1. It is a beautiful place to travel. I have heard about the roads as a writer in our department, years ago, drove a Volkswagon Beetle from Dayton, Ohio, through Canada and through Alaska as far as he could go at that time. Two or three sets of tires later, he came back with some vivid memories but no pictures. He never owned a camera and took no pictures. Imagine that.

  2. So many stunning photographs! I really have the itch to visit Alaska!!

  3. Breathtaking perspective and images Tim. Truly Awesome...Thomas

  4. First and last time I went to Denali was in 1980. Forgot how magnificent it is, maybe I can hitch a ride with Ken next year, that is if he does not stay there permanently.