Distance: 324 - 594 miles.
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Because much of the Denali Highway between Cantwell and Paxson is not paved, the best bike to rent for this trip is a mountain bike with a lock-out on the front fork with a cross tire. Mileposts: Anchorage. Glenn Hwy North to Palmer and Wasilla which is where the Parks Hwy begins. East at Cantwell on Denali Hwy. South on Richardson Hwy to Valdez. Alaska Marine Highway ferry west through Prince William Sound to Whittier. North on Seward Hwy to Girdwood and Anchorage.
For the first leg of the trip north from Anchorage, there is a bike path buffered for about 20 miles from the Glenn Highway to Mirror Lake just past Eagle River. From there ride on a rural road parallel to the highway until you reach the Eklutna flats where you have no choice but to bike for about two miles on the wide shoulder of the busy highway to the "Old Glenn Highway" where you must exit. Here is a map.
Along the Old Glenn Highway on the way to Palmer there is a wonderful hike - Boddenburg Butte.
If detouring through Palmer on your way to Wasilla doesn't work for you, because you can't ride on the freeway after the Eklutna flats, take the Valley Mover Bus from Anchorage (with your bike on the front of the bus) to Wasilla. It costs $10. Once in Wasilla, pedal north on the Parks Hwy. It's 71 miles from Wasilla to Talkeetna. Alternatively, you could take the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna ($89) or to Denali Park ($146). It costs $20 to check your bike (fully-assembled permitted) on the railroad. The distance from Talkeetna north to Cantwell is 30 miles. It is another 27 miles from Cantwell to Denali. Another cheaper option in addition to the railroad is the Park Connection Bus. From Anchorage the bus costs $65 to Talkeetna and $90 to Denali. There is no fee to put your bicycle on the bus.
Riders who do No back to the
If you do decide to overnight in Talkeetna, one of the best lodging values is the Talkeetna Hostel.
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 overnight in Cantwell, stay at the Backwoods Lodge.
From Cantwell, the first 3 miles of the Denali Highway are paved. The middle 110 miles are gravel. And 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 Glenallen. At Glenallen you could cut the circuit short by heading east directly back to Anchorage. It is 189 miles from Glenallen to Anchorage.
If, however you want a longer (time not necessarily miles pedaled) circuit trip and want to take the ferry from Valdez through Prince William Sound, you will need to continue pedaling south. It is 115 miles from Glenallen 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 or to Seward. If you choose to sail to Seward, click on "Trips" in the toolbar above and select "Trip Two." If you prefer to sail to Whittier, read on.
The ferry ride from Valdez to Whittier takes 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. Cost for the ferry ride with your bike is $101.
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 two 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, one half 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 another 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. Where the Old Seward intersects with Rabbit Creek Road, stay left on the Old Seward. After crossing over the Seward Hwy you'll encounter a roundabout at Huffman Road. (If you're hungry, consider taking a right to get food at the Carrs/Safeway Supermarket; you can see the store from the roundabout. After eating (or not) 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. If you don't want to make a bee-line back downtown, instead of taking a right onto C Street, stay left on Klatt, bike through Southport, take a left on Dimond, a right onto Sand Lake Road, and then a left onto Raspberry which will bring you to the end of the Coastal Trail at Kincaid Park. Then ride the Coastal Trail back downtown to finish your trip.
"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."