The Denali Highway – Day 69-70 (Aug 26-27)

The Denali Highway is the worst of roads, and it is the best of roads. It is 100 miles of gravel potholes cutting through some of the best scenery in Alaska. Originally, it was the only way to Denali National Park before the Parks Highway was built in 1971. Today, it often looks like it hasn’t been graded since.

denali
We finally caught a brief glimpse of Denali when the rain began to clear and we started out on the Denali Highway.

Pothole Heaven

It doesn’t help the pothole problem when it rains for weeks during hunting season and thousands of monster pickups and campers pulling 4-wheeler trailers go blasting down the road , banging and bouncing even more gravel out of the holes and onto the windshields of anyone brave enough to face this free-for-all. Such was the case when we were there.

potholes
There are bad sections of potholes on The Denali Highway where it is impossible to dodge them all.. I counted this section and extrapolated it as 2,000 potholes per mile – or 200,000 in a hundred miles. Hopefully, they will grade it before all 100 miles looks like this

For an avid landscape photographer, potholes and crowds of other outdoor enthusiast are minor “occupational hazards”. Especially when the Call of the Wild drives them through the heart of the Alaska Range on a beautiful fall day.

hunter camp
Hunter camp and photographer camper rig coexisting peacefully on the Denali Highway.
european camper
Folks from France on the Denali Highway. We spoke to them at the beginning and kept “bumping into them” for most of the way. Check out their “European Camper”. We saw a lot of this style camper in Alaska, which resembles bullet proof military vehicles. This one had a map of the world on the back, showing all their travels.
campers on denali highway
The folks from France camping with the hunters. There can be unity in sharing the wilderness.

Fall Color on the Denali Highway

We set out early on the Denali Highway for one of the most exciting photography experiences of our Alaska trip. The rain had stopped and glorious light broke through the heavy clouds to set the Alaska landscape on fire with color.

first glimpse
A first glimpse of the Alaska Range.

We had waited a week for the rain to stop – and it did – for one day! It started to rain at the end of the Denali Highway, and never stopped until our Alaska Trip ended. Every day of of the Alaska Highway home it rained – often all night long. We rarely drove on dry pavement. This made our time on The Denali Highway even more precious. These two days were some of the best memories I have of Alaska.

denali highway
The Denali Highway
the denali highway close
Always waiting to see what is around the next curve on The Denali Highway.

I will not bore you here with words, names, geography lessons, or history. If you want the details of our experience on this amazing road, I will be glad to share it with you – but for now – just sit back, forget you problems, and go with me once again to this wonderful place through photographs. Let them speak of that moment when my heart was on fire with awe and wonder; when praise for the Designer and Creator consumed all my earthly desires.

Here are just a few pieces of a vast landscape that is filled with numerous glaciers, rugged mountains, colorful tundra, sparse forest, rivers, lakes, and sky – all fit precisely into place doing exactly what they were designed to do. This beauty is not random molecular motion creating order from chaos by chance. It is more than the work of past and present glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes and all the laws of physics. It was ordered by design. And the work of that designer is good, and very good!

glacier 1

the river

glacier close

from the top

fall in the canyon

tundra-storm

lake from top

morning lake 2

alaska glacier

a-river-runs-through-it

a-favorite-view

rain

light-on-the-alaska-range