For many planning an epic Alaskan adventure, driving the Denali Highway is a can’t-miss opportunity. After all, this 135-mile stretch of highway is commonly celebrated as one of the most scenic highways in the entire United States. From stunning landscapes to breathtaking wildlife viewing opportunities, the drive is known for offering the best of what the 49th State has to offer.
The Denali Highway connects the Parks and Richardson highways and extends from Paxson to Cantwell. The rugged beauty of the drive is characterized by a road that consists of mainly gravel and dirt. In other words, this is prime territory for a 4×4 that can handle the elements; what makes this piece of road so beautiful are its natural isolation and terrain. That means that to enjoy this unique Alaskan driving experience, all it takes is some good preparation and the right vehicle for the job.
You’ll be mesmerized by the natural environment surrounding this highway. Get ready for glacier views, pristine lakes and rivers (including views of the Nenana River), and stunning sightlines toward the Wrangell-St. Elias mountain range and even Denali itself. Campgrounds, lodges, and plenty of hiking trails are available for your enjoyment. Bring binoculars and a fishing pole – there are plenty of wildlife experiences you’re bound to discover along the way. Throughout every facet of the 135-mile stretch, there is a chance to be amazed.
One thing to be aware of is the right speed for enjoying the highway: the most common recommendation is 45 mph, which seems counter-intuitive to driving anything called a “highway.” Because of its gravelly terrain, your vehicle could encounter sharp rocks, meaning it’s best to keep your pace slow and steady. Besides, this is a drive you definitely do not want to speed through!
Beyond the unpaved conditions of the main highway itself, the Denali drive also offers a lot of off-road vehicle opportunities! This allows you to surround yourself in the elements even more. Sedans and other 2WD vehicles just aren’t up to the task for this kind of excursion, so opt for a reliable 4WD vehicle like a truck, SUV, or Jeep.
If you’re visiting Alaska, you’re best bet for an ideal highway experience – and indeed for MOST Alaskan travel experiences – is to rent a reliable four-wheel-drive SUV. However, the conditions of the Denali Highway, in particular, are such that most rental car companies will prohibit you from taking your rental out to this amazing location! It pays to make sure you’re working with a rental company that allows you to drive the Denali Highway so you don’t have to incur additional costs for essentially enjoying a beautiful drive the way it should be enjoyed.
The Denali Highway is a spectacular piece of Alaska road. It’s no wonder so many people make the drive – though you wouldn’t know it based on how FEW fellow travelers you’ll encounter as you drive! Since it features Alaska’s rugged beauty at its finest, having the right method of transportation is the main key to making sure this drive lives up to its transportation. Rely on a dependable 4×4 auto rental service to make this happen, and be sure to know that they not only allow but ENCOURAGE a trip through the majestic Denali Highway!