Larre tells about activities down one of Alaska’s scenic byways—the McCarthy Road. Drive 97 miles down a rough gravel road and around switchback turns, take the footbridge across the Kennecott River, and before you know it you’re in the former mining settlement of McCarthy. Click the play button below to hear this week’s episode.

gravel road, Alaska

gravel road, Alaska

 

The paved highways of Alaska offer jaw-dropping scenery and exciting wildlife views, with plenty of opportunities to stroll along creeks and trails where you can be far from the madding crowd. In Alaska you can park your RV or pitch a tent along most roadsides; watch for signs that prohibit it in some areas. For those who want a more remote experience, try one of these gravel excursions.

Chitina Cafe, circa 1984

Chitina Cafe, circa 1984

Dalton Highway—Made famous on History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers, 414 miles between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay

While on a pit stop at the Tok visitor’s center last June, we overheard an older gentleman telling the desk staff that he and his wife had just driven up from Missouri. With that warmup under his belt, he was eager to take a side trip up the Dalton Highway for some real adventure. Without sounding condescending or critical, the guide was telling him there is no reason to go there, nothing to see and no facilities of any kind for tourists. He seemed undeterred, but unless you are hauling supplies to North Slope oil workers, cross this one off your list and explore it on Google Maps instead. If you go, survival gear is recommended. (And make sure your transmission is working, Larre.)

Taylor Highway (Route 5)—160 miles from Tetlin Junction (near Tok) to Eagle.

This would have been a good alternative for the Missouri gent. The first 60 miles are paved and it's here that Larre’s trailer had an unexpected encounter with a van load of German tourists, which Larre will recount next week in Episode 18. Larre reports the town of Chicken has a couple good restaurants, a campground, store, fuel station, panning for gold, and fishing. To make the circle tour that the German tourists were doing, at mile 96 you can connect to the Top of the World Highway at Jack Wade Junction. This will take you to Dawson City, Yukon, a hotspot during the Klondike gold rush. From there you take the Klondike Highway to Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway (Alcan).

Denali Highway (Route 8)—135 miles from Paxson on the Richardson Highway west to Cantwell on the Parks Highway

Two campgrounds at Paxson Lake offer a boat landing and fishing for big burbot, lake trout and salmon. Larre took the boys here for camping and fishing when they were young. They left some fishing lines in the water as they sat down for breakfast and looked up to see one of the rods skiing across the lake, never to be seen again. On the Denali Highway, you’ll find campgrounds at Tangle Lakes (trout) and Brushkana Creek, a handful of lodges and many pullouts where you can camp. Climbing as high as 4,086 feet at Maclaren Summit, you’ll have spectacular views of the central Alaska Range and, farther off, the Wrangell and Chugach Mountains. Over 80% of the road is gravel and poorly maintained. Be prepared.

gallery in Chitina, circa 1984

gallery in Chitina, circa 1984

Bonnie Lakes Road (Mile 83.3 on the Glenn Highway)—2 miles from the Glenn Highway to Bonnie Lakes

This is a good side trip for scenery on a well-maintained gravel road. If you are driving south on the Glenn Highway, look for the first right turn after Long Lake. Half-way up the road, Ravine Lake has good rainbow fishing. Bonnie Lake has rainbow and grayling, plus a boat launch, parking and an outhouse. 

Driving north from Anchorage, the road is 8 miles past the Chickaloon Post Office, which is also a convenience store and gift shop. Stop in here for some uncensored stories about Larre. http://www.chickaloonpostoffice.com/ 

Castle Mountain near Chickaloon, Alaska

Castle Mountain near Chickaloon, Alaska

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