Duration: 5-14 days.
Distance: 324 - 594 miles.
Mileposts: Anchorage. Glenn Hwy North to Parks Hwy. East at Cantwell on Denali Hwy. South on Richardson Hwy to Valdez. Ferry West through Prince William Sound to Whittier. North on Seward Hwy to Girdwood and Anchorage.
This circuit trip is punctuated by taking the ferry from Valdez to Whittier through spectacular Prince William Sound. This trip also gives you the option of bypassing the first and/or last legs of the itinerary by using public transportation from/to Anchorage.
Outbound north riders can skip the first 42 miles (Wasilla), 113 miles (Talkeetna), or 237 miles (Denali Park by taking either the bus or the railroad. Each of the three start points would eventually lead to Cantwell which is where the Denali Highway begins. The 134-mile-long Denali Highway is a very scenic and remote mostly gravel road that links the Parks Highway to the Richardson Hwy.
If you decide to start from Wasilla, the Valley Mover Bus will take you there (with your bike) from Anchorage for only $10. Once in Wasilla, pedal north on the Parks Hwy. It's 71 miles from Wasilla to Talkeetna.
If you prefer to begin bicycling beyond Wasilla, take the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna ($89) or to Denali Park ($146). It's 30 miles from Talkeetna north to Cantwell and 27 miles from Denali south to Cantwell. There's a $20 fee to put your bike on the train.
The third way to shorten the first leg of this trip is to take the Park Connection Bus to Talkeetna ($65) or Denali ($90). There is no fee to put your bicycle on the bus. If you decide to overnight in Talkeetna, the best value in town is the Talkeetna Hostel.
If you overnight in Cantwell, stay at the Backwoods Lodge.
From Cantwell, the first 3 miles of the Denali Highway is paved. The next 110 miles are gravel. The last 21 miles to the Richardson Hwy are paved. There is no cell phone service in the gravel section. While it's possible to pitch your tent in a make-shift spot anywhere along "Route 8" the first official campground with potable water, toilets, and picnic tables is 29 miles in at Brushkana Creek. There is an $8 fee. The next campground (Gracious House) is another 23 miles. Ninety-two miles from Cantwell are two lodges www.maclarenlodge.com and www.dogsleddenali.com. Next up, Maclaren Summit (elev. 4,086') followed by www.tangleriverinn.com and 20 miles later Paxson. Paxson is where the Denali Hwy ends.
At Paxson, after you turn south on the Richardson Hwy., it's 71 miles to Glen Allen. From there it's another 119 miles to Valdez. There are many lodges/cabins and campgrounds along the way. If you want to know where they are and how much they cost, the best resource is The Milepost. The Milepost provides mile-by-mile information about every road in Alaska. Here the Milepost's Richardson Hwy link.
After arriving in Valdez take the Alaska Marine Hwy through Prince William Sound to Whittier. The sailing will take between 2.75 hours and 5.75 hours. The difference in transit time depends on whether you're on the fast ferry or the regular ferry..
Upon arriving in Whittier, you'll encounter the longest tunnel in North America. In order to get through the 2.5-mile-long Whittier Tunnel to Portage with your bicycle, you will need to make friends in the staging area with someone in an RV, pickup, or car with a bike rack. You cannot ride through the tunnel on your bike. If leaving this to chance doesn't work for you, or if you're running out of time or too tired to bike any more, there are to other options. One is to pay $65 and take the railroad from Whittier back to Anchorage. The other is to pay $65 and take the bus.
If you choose to continue biking on the other side of the tunnel, you'll start at Portage Lake/Glacier. From Portage it is seven miles to the Seward Hwy and another 10 miles to the intersection of the Alyeska Highway which is 3-miles from the town of Girdwood. The most affordable place to overnight in Girdwood is at the Alyeska Hostel.
Before leaving Girdwood, in the morning, hike to the top of Mt. Alyeska and take the tram back down for free. It's about an hour hike up.
When you're ready to leave Girdwood, 1/2 mile before the Seward Hwy, exit right into the parking lot of the Chugach National Forrest Ranger Station. This is where a great new 7-mile-long bike path parrels the Seward Hwy to Indian. From Indian it's 10 miles along the scenic (but busy) Seward Hwy to the Potter Section House. Get off the highway here by taking a right onto Potter Valley Road and then a quick left onto the Old Seward Hwy. This is a rural two-lane road on the north side of Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary. Two long boardwalks go into the marsh on its north side. Next where the Old Seward intersects with Rabbit Creek Road, stay left on the Old Seward. At roundabout with Huffman, consider taking a right to get food at the Carrs/Safeway Supermarket. Either way, continue south on Old Seward to Klatt Road where you take a right. Right at the roundabout onto C St. There's a bike path buffered from C St that will bring you directly back to Downtown Bicycle Rental.
"The Mighty One"
"No I am not referring to the massive vessel on the backdrop,
I am talking about my bicycle giving a respectable challenge to the ship.
BTW I rented my bicycle from Downtown Bike Rentals."