The Drive to Cantwell in the Denali State Park // Alaska

May 28, 2019

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope that you are having a wonderful week so far and that you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! As I mention last week, with summer quickly approaching I wanted to share some recaps from my trip to Alaska last year as I hope it encourages each of you to take a road trip in this beautiful part of the world! I am deep in preparation for our upcoming trip this summer and am so excited to see so many new things and share them with y'all on Instagram and here on the blog! 

Also- please take a moment to read about the #10000in7days campaign (click HERE) that I am hosting this year as part of this trip! Thank you so much for considering donating to this!
Our second full day in Alaska was spent driving from Trapper Creek (where we had stayed at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge [you can read more about it HERE]) over to Copper Center, Alaska. Our first stop on this day was to travel north to Cantwell before taking the Denali Highway east.
As you can see from the map above it would have been easier to cut across than go up and around like we did. If you are short on time and are looking for the quickest way than that would have been to drive south (back towards Anchorage) and then over to Copper Center. It would take you along AK-1N (which is a gorgeous drive!) and it would take about 4 and 1/2 hours. 

Because we were going to be going along AK-1 later in the week (read about it HERE) and I wanted to see as much of Alaska as we could I decided to go north to Cantwell and then take the Denali Highway over to Copper Center. It was the absolute best decision and if you have the time to do so I really can't encourage it enough. 
Despite the fact that the day started off a bit rainy and cloudy, it didn't diminish the beauty of what we were seeing at all. As I continued to drive the clouds started to break off and as the day went on we were blessed with sunshine. 
The views, even in the clouds, were simply stunning. 
You can see in so many of my pictures that I was enthralled with these adorable "small" pine trees that we saw in this part of Alaska. Hahaha, I took hundreds of pictures of them (don't worry, I will spare you in sharing all of them *smiles*), and I even said I was going to put one in my suitcase. 

Y'all, set against the incredibly tall and expansive mountains they looked like mini trees. Now, I know and understand that this is a perfect thing for this area with the amount of snow that Alaska receives, but I was still enthralled. *smiles*
I had to stop and just take a picture of both directions of the highway that we were driving. It doesn't show all of the beauty that we were seeing, but I hope it will give a small taste of what you can see if you take this drive north to Cantwell.
Another thing that I wanted to point out about this road is something that I think us "lower states" will not understand until you experience Alaska for yourself. In the trip planning phase I had about a thousand questions for J who is from Alaska. Hahaha. Maybe several thousand. *smiles* He patiently answered each of them and all of his tips and advice were incredibly helpful in making this trip an absolute dream. 

One thing though that I was very skeptical on was when he was saying that you could literally pull off in so many places and park your car or RV to get some rest. Even though I am coming from a rural area in upstate NY I was skeptical of this, but in the first day of traveling (to Hatcher Pass) I saw a small snippet of what he meant, and then on this part of the drive I started to really understand. There are literally hundreds of places you could do so if you needed or wanted to and we saw many cars and RVs throughout the trip that did so. I add this in because if you are like me and coming from a "lower state" and hear this advice you may be as skeptical as I was, but it honestly is true. *smiles*
The drive from the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge to Cantwell should take you approximately an hour and 20 minutes. If you are like me though and stop every 5-10 minutes to take pictures to try and capture the beauty than it may take a bit longer. *smiles*
These flowers... I fell in love with them and the story behind them. I shared a bit on my instagram page (click HERE), but you can read more about the beautiful symbol of hope that they are in this post HERE!!
The mountains and the lakes together make my heart swoon.
I stopped here to take a few pictures and ended up staying for a bit longer as we explored around this area. It was definitely worth the time!
As you are driving along, this area that we stopped at is incredibly easy to spot so if you want to explore this same area you will be able to easily find it. 
Oh Alaska, you stole part of my heart. *smiles*
The first part of the day was a beautiful experience and one that I would love to do again. The Denali park is huge and getting to see this little space of it in this drive was an incredible blessing. It is definitely an area that I want to come back and explore so much more of!

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:

 // A Trip To Remember: Our 9 Day Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary//
// 5 Reasons You Need to Take an Alaskan Road Trip//

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)// Along the Matanuska River on Alaska 1-South// A Beautiful Lake Adventure Near Chickaloon// A Cloudy & Beautiful Drive on Alaska 1-South//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

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

Denali State Park Area:// Denali Highway Video// One Last Adventure on the Denali Highway// 
// The Denali Highway: Part Two // The Denali Highway: Part One// 
//The Drive to Cantwell// Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge //

General Alaska Tips: // 5 Things You Must Know Before Driving in Alaska //
 // Best Alaskan Books to Purchase for Your Road Trip //
// What to Pack for an Alaskan Summer Road Trip //
// Why You Should Dream About Visiting Alaska //

Girdwood:  // Winner Creek Trail Video// Winner Creek Trail //

Hatcher Pass Area: // Hatcher Pass Video// Hatcher Pass // Little Susitna River //

Homer (Kenai Peninsula) Area: // Homer Video// Homer Spit// Homer Lighthouse// Bishop's Beach//
// A Brief History of Homer //

Thompson Pass Area: // Thompson Pass Area Video 
// Worthington Glacier Hike//
//Worthington Glacier//
// Among the Alaskan Fireweed on Alaska 4-S: A Beautiful Symbol of Hope in the Hard Seasons of Life //
// A Brief History of & Drive on Alaska 4-South of the Richardson Highway//Klutina River//
// The Beginning Drive to Thompson Pass// 

Wrangell-St. Elias Park Area: //Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge //

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