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 > Denali Hwy vs Fairbanks?

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kohldad

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Posted: 05/14/19 08:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Instead of going through Fairbanks, I was contemplating turning south at Delta Junction on A4 then taking the Denali Highway AK-8 over to A3 before heading south to Anchorage. Will still make the 30 mile jaunt from A3/AK-8 junction north to Denali Visitor Center. The thought is we would enjoy the scenery along the Denali Highway more than Fairbanks.

Or do you think there is enough to see in/around Fairbanks to go that direction?


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cewillis

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Posted: 05/15/19 08:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think it really depends on whether you prefer a city or the wilderness. I enjoyed camping along the Denali Highway much more than the sights in Fairbanks. Many places to camp, hike, and explore.
Here a picture of the mountain from the highway.
[image]


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pigman1

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Posted: 05/15/19 09:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We starrted to drive part of the Denali Highway from the east to west a few years ago. It's just about all gravel and when we were on it the surface was very badly washboarded. Of course that depends on when the last time they ran a grader over the road, bur we decided not to take it. We were only in the toad, and had left the Bus elsewhere. Also, while we were stopped enjoying the scenery a LARGE tour bus blew by us at about 50mph. No damage, but I wouldn't have wanted to meet that guy on the road driving the Bus. We're not unfamiliar with Alaska, as this summer will be our 9th trip up and we have driven the Dalton to Prudhoe Bay.


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ppine

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Posted: 05/15/19 09:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fairbanks is a small city. I really enjoyed the people there, the Tanana River and the fur shops among other things. I like going to Fox to do some gold panning and watch the Northern Lights. We caught the Robert Service inspired melodrama outside of town in Ester. . Alaska is mostly bush, so being in a remote frontier town was very interesting to me. Plenty of history everywhere.

We saw no evidence of any "caravans."

* This post was edited 05/16/19 07:30am by ppine *

snowedin

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Posted: 05/15/19 11:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One of the few roads in Alaska that is pretty much free of trees blocking the views and the views of the Alaska Range as well as the rest of the landscape are worth seeing in my opinion. The road starts out as paved on the east end, turns to nicely maintained gravel and then lesser maintained gravel in the middle. Tangle Lakes area is good with a nice BLM campground and also a lodge with a great cafe. The road had a lot of potholes when I went so with the travel trailer ended up going pretty slow, maybe 20-25 mph in places. The road grader was sitting (but had not been grading) there so guess it depends on when the road was last maintained. Take your time and enjoy the scenery,maybe plan on overnighting somewhere along the road as there are numerous turnouts to do so. If you plan on traveling at 60 mph this is not the route for you. For me the scenery was worth whatever time it took to travel the road and would do it again.

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 05/15/19 11:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thoughts (from nearly 60 years !!!) in Alaska:

- I took a couple of trips as a kid on the Denali Highway when it was "the highway" to get to McKinley. It was beautiful then and beautiful now.
- The Denali is arguably the most scenic drive in Alaska, although TOW and the Richardson into Valdez are also competitors.
- I've got some great friends in Fairbanks and go there often to see them and every now and then as a jumping off spot for hunting/fishing. Other than that, I don't find Fairbanks appealing, although there's plenty to do there.
- If your rig can handle an (often-rough) gravel road, take the Denali..but there's limited services and it's not a road to rush over.
- If you can swing it, I think one should take the "old road" from Delta to Anchorage. Then one can visit Denali NP by taking the Parks Highway back up North.


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sljohnson1938

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Posted: 05/15/19 02:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would be sure to go to Fairbanks, much to do there. Most caravans will spend more time there than any other place. And the trip from Fairbanks down to Denali and Anchorage is nice with lots to do and see.


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kohldad

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Posted: 05/15/19 02:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

Most caravans will spend more time there than any other place.


I don't like doing the things that most caravaners like to do so that is a big turn off.

Quote:

If your rig can handle an (often-rough) gravel road, take the Denali..but there's limited services and it's not a road to rush over.


I'll be in a 4wd truck camper that isn't overloaded so shouldn't have an issue. My plan is to average about 100 miles per day with more days allowed for stopping and taking in the sights.

Quote:

If you plan on traveling at 60 mph


Then I would be wasting a trip on going to Alaska! Most days are being planned for 4 hrs / day @ 25 mph. [emoticon]

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 05/15/19 03:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"I'll be in a 4wd truck camper that isn't overloaded so shouldn't have an issue. My plan is to average about 100 miles per day with more days allowed for stopping and taking in the sights."

FWIW, the Denali Highway is listed as 135 miles....the last time that I drove it for recreation (not getting from A-B fast, not hunting, etc), I spent two nights on the highway, departing from Paxson late morning, and getting to Cantwell late afternoon.

It's worth the time....and if the road is exceptionally rough (which I've seen several times), 25 mph (with a load/trailer) is a good, aspirational target.

kohldad

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Posted: 05/15/19 03:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

FWIW, the Denali Highway is listed as 135 miles....the last time that I drove it for recreation (not getting from A-B fast, not hunting, etc), I spent two nights on the highway, departing from Paxson late morning, and getting to Cantwell late afternoon.


Thanks. That is about what I was thinking of two nights on the road.

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