Denali Highway

Welcome back to the sixth installment of the Bucket List: Alaska series. If you are just joining us, you can go back to read the start of our Alaska adventure in Anchorage at this link. There will be links at the bottom of each post to take you to the next one.

The next day of our Alaska adventure would prove to be a long trip on a bus. Nine hours on a bus, traveling ~135 miles over the Denali Highway, aka AK 8, to be exact. The Denali highway is mostly gravel and mud, it had been raining, there was roadwork in progress, and we were on a 45′ long tour bus. Fun. 🙂 We were on our way to the Copper River Wilderness Lodge, in a more remote eastern area of Alaska, for two nights. I do want to add that we chose this itinerary with longer travel times, in order to see more of this incredible state.

A few photos of the road work fun. The bus driver really had a challenge in this instance, threading the bus through a super narrow path between open culverts! :-O


Slime ahead!


This was on the passenger side of the bus, as we squeaked by


The road ahead for 130+ miles

A few landscape photos of the first 90 or so miles. It was a very cloudy and threatening sky for most of the day, but the rain held off.


The sun trying hard to peek through the dark clouds


Dramatic reflection on a glass-clear lake



Tundra and a distant glacier


Zoomed in on the glacier


Entering the McLaren river region


A hunters’ camp, one of many we encountered, which explained the total lack of wildlife!

We stopped for lunch at the McLaren River Lodge, a full-service rustic roadhouse featuring meals, lodging, and sporting activities for the traveler in the high alpine country. We enjoyed several hot soups, bread, and dessert, as well as the chance to get off the bus! The Maclaren River flows from the Maclaren Glacier south to the Susitna River and then into Cook Inlet just west of Anchorage.


Inside the lodge


Boats available for tours on the McLaren River


The exterior of the lodge


A campsite with McLaren glacier in the distance

Due to another Princess bus having an emergency, we were forced to stop just a bit east of the lodge at the McLaren Summit overlook for an extended photo op. Oh darn! 🙂


This is Alaska’s second highest pass


The magnificent Alaska Range to the north, including the McLaren glacier


The McLaren River basin, dotted with thousands of lakes


Zoomed in on a glacier in view behind one of so many lakes

We stopped one more time before our arrival at Copper River at the overlook at Summit Lake, just before Paxson. The views were incredible! To the north is one of the state’s spectacular mountain ranges, the Alaska Range. Several peaks in this view have elevations above 12,000 feet. This range extends in a great arc from Cook Inlet through the Mt. McKinley massif and on to the Canadian border, a distance of 650 miles. The Gulkana and Gakona glaciers, seen from this point, have formed as a result of the buildup of snowfields high in the Alaska Range. Layers of snow accumulate year after year and are gradually compacted into ice. As the glacier becomes heavier, it begins to slide infinitesimally, gouging into the rock over which it passes. This action, called glacial erosion, contributes to the jagged appearance of the Alaska Range and creates the U-shaped valleys seen from the road. But now I’ll shut up and let the photos do the talking.


Panorama of the view


The magnificent Alaska Range…again



Summit Lake




Passing over the Gulkana River, just before turning from the Denali Highway to the Richardson Highway, and heading south to Copper River

I had intended to include Copper River in this post, but I think it deserves its own post and that will be next up. Thanks for continuing to relive our Alaskan journey in pictures!

You can go read the next post right now at this link.


10 thoughts on “Denali Highway

  1. It looks like traveling to the Lodge was a great way to see more of Alaska – the slick muddy road sure wouldn’t be fun to ride on on two wheels. I am enjoying all the scenic pictures and I am looking forward to the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Brandy! Yes, the tour we chose was called “Off the beaten path” and it was, for a cruise/tour package anyway. 😉 We had friends go to Alaska this year on their bikes and ride the slick, muddy roads all the way to Prudhoe Bay…I am duly impressed with their accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it myself. LOL

      I appreciate you following along! ❤


    • We have an Irish pub here in our small town that had the same, but all the bills were personalized, decorated, colored, signed and such. Then the pub had a kitchen fire a few years ago. Pub supporters went in and painstakingly photographed the placement, carefully removed the staples, and stored the bills during the 8 months of renovation, then put them all back up when it was done. 😍 It’s things like this that remind me that not everyone sucks.


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