Denali Highway

Denali Highway

Connects: Paxson to Cantwell,AK
Route#: Alaska Route 8     
Length: 134 miles     
Road Surface: 15% Paved, 85% Gravel     
Season: Closed in winter
Highest Pass: Maclaren Summit, elev. 4,086 feet
Map (1 detailed pdf file available):
Paxson, AK to Cantwell, AK

The 134-mile-long Denali Highway links Paxson on the Richardson Highway to Cantwell on the Parks Highway. Winter snow closes the highway to through traffic from about October to mid-May. (The DOT&PF issued a press release in early April that the Denali Highway is closed until May 15, 2011.)

The first 21 miles of the Denali Highway from Paxson and the first 3 miles from Cantwell are paved. The condition of the gravel portion of the Denali Highway varies, depending on highway maintenance, weather and the opinion of the driver. Maclaren Summit, the second highest highway pass in the state, represents the only significant grade on the highway.

When the Denali Highway opened in 1957, it was the only road link to Denali National Park and Preserve (then Mount McKinley National Park) until the completion of the Parks Highway in 1972. (Prior to 1957, the national park had been accessible only by railroad.)

Attractions: The Denali Highway has great scenery, ORV and mountain biking trails, fishing, hunting, good bird watching and interesting geography. It also provides access to the Delta River canoe trail at Tangle Lakes.

The MILEPOST® Quick Reference Log
Miles from Paxson (P) shown.

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