The Denali Highway [part one]// Alaska | Caravan Sonnet

The Denali Highway [part one]// Alaska

August 28, 2018

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope that your week is starting off well! Before I share my post today, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you so much for all of your kind messages and emails about the accident that I was in this weekend. I so appreciate your kindness. I am still pretty sore and struggling with whiplash after-affects and a yucky headache...and some nightmares have continued... so I appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers. 
Today I am so excited to share the first part of our trip on the Denali Highway. I have heard recently (*smiles*) that I keep saying that all of the places in Alaska were "my favorite". Hahaha. That is true. I looked back and realized that I have used that word almost a hundred times in the span of less than a handful of posts. Hahaha. But the truth is that each part of Alaska that I saw became a favorite for different reasons. I actually do have an absolute favorite which I can't wait to share in a future post. Hahaha!
The Denali Highway is something that I can't even begin to explain how incredible it was. In all honesty it was probably 5 of my favorite hours of the entire trip (hahaha- yes, yes, it was a favorite!). Words almost don't do this remote and beautiful area of Alaska justice.
After stopping briefly in Cantwell to get some gas and use the restroom (two things I definitely recommend before you take the trip on Denali Highway!), we began the drive east across the Denali Highway. It took about 5 hours of driving (partly because of the rocky and bumpy highway road, but mostly because I kept stopping to take pictures and just to explore where we were) and it was worth every single second.
The Denali Highway was so vast. So remote (no cell service at all) and perfectly wild in every single way you could imagine Alaska to be. 
I had already said this several times on the trip by this point, but as I stood here overlooking this beautiful river I had no doubt that I had fully fallen in love with Alaska. The beauty is so indescribable and it sweeps you up in it in a way that is hard to put into words. 

For some people, like my traveling companion, Ali, the feeling was the exact opposite. She expressed that while she appreciated the beauty, she was very anxious to return to cell service, be connected to her social media, have city life, shops and stores, and was ready to be off the highway after only a little bit of time.

As I have thought back on this trip, I realized that I learned a very big lesson in this regard. Traveling for different people looks really different. Some people love to get out of their comfort zones, fully immerse in a new culture or experience, and others don't. Whatever works for you is awesome, but you definitely want to keep that in mind for your trip plans.

I say and share that as a bit of a word of caution for those who are considering a similar road trip in Alaska, and one that includes crossing the Denali Highway. Those of you who know me well know that this would totally be my element. I LOVED every minute. And this highway- the disconnectedness from social media, the beauty, and nature aspect, etc. were all an incredible adventure that I wanted to grab hold of and not let end. Had I been with someone else I would have camped right there just to experience it for as long as possible. 

But if you are more like my traveling companion, a person who likes to visit nature briefly, enjoys city life, or likes to be constantly connected to your social media, than this span of the trip may not be as enjoyable for you. 

It is completely rural, completely vast and very very remote. 

But I can't recommend it enough y'all. Seriously. I absolutely loved it.
But if you go, and I really really hope you do, than this area of Alaska is unforgettable. I read before the trip that they say that this is one of the most spectacular drives in the world and one you should do before you die, and I couldn't agree more. 
A couple of quick practical notes about this drive: 

(1) As I mentioned above the road is mostly gravel so the maximum speed limit is approximately 35-55mph in most parts. This can vary due to different road conditions, but while the Denali Highway is only 135 miles, it will take you longer than that to drive. 

(2) If you are renting a car, you will need to make sure that you can drive on this road as not all rental car companies allow you to do so. Make sure that you talk with them before your trip so that this is all in order for you! 

(3) This probably doesn't need to be said, but as I mentioned at the beginning it definitely is a wise idea to get gas in Cantwell as there is no gas stations along the Highway. 

(4) If you are visiting Alaska in the winter, the Denali Highway closes every year from October through mid-May (depending on weather), so you wouldn't be able to travel it during this time. 

(5) You can definitely do the Denali Highway in one day (as we did), but depending on your time I would recommend staying a night along the way. As I mentioned in the last post, there are plenty of places to pull off and do so, and in the future I definitely plan to do this on a trip. 

(6) Depending on when you travel the Highway you may only see a few dozen cars- if that. I counted that we saw 17 along the entire stretch (which included 2 trucks and 1 cop car that was working on an area of the road). Often times we would be passing the same RVs or cars as either we or they would be stopping to take pictures or get out and explore. Despite this and despite the remoteness and vastness, I do want to say to girls traveling I felt completely safe in my travels to Alaska. On this road there would definitely be people who would help you if you needed it. For those who may be concerned (like my traveling companion was about this portion of the trip) don't be.
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today! I hope that this introduction to the Denali Highway encourages you to start planning a trip there soon! I can't wait to go back and am already planning another trip! 

PS- If you are curious about the specific details of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Trail//

Girdwood: // Winner Creek Trail //

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