Denali Highway in AK is one of the America's top drives

Located in Alaska, the Denali Highway (Alaska Route 8) is one of the most scenic highways in the entire United States. Watch out for potholes and stretches of 'washboard' road if it's been raining.

Denali Highway

How many miles is the Denali Highway?

The road is 217km (135 miles) long. It’s mostly unpaved and runs from Paxson on the Richardson Highway to Cantwell on the Parks Highway. The highway is now little used and poorly maintained. Only the easternmost 21.3 miles (34.3 km) and westernmost 2.6 miles (4.2 km) are paved. The rest of the road is gravel, not dirt, hence there effectively are no stretches of mud but there can be sharp rocks. Washboarding and extreme dust are common, and the recommended speed limit is 30 mph (48 km/h). Conditions of the road vary from well maintained to rough and bumpy.

Can anyone drive the Denali Highway?

The road was opened in 1957. Travelers can expect easy, gentle inclines with safe visibility. Do bring at least a spare tire, with the nature of the road flats can happen. Many rental car companies will prohibit driving the Denali Highway, but a number of companies do allow travelers to take their cars on this road.

Is the Denali Highway open?

This road is usually impassable from late October through late May. The route quickly climbs from the boreal forest to access the tundra and taiga along the foothills of the mighty Alaska Range. From the Paxson elevation of 2,750 ft, travelers eventually climb to the Maclaren Summit at 1.250m (4,101ft) above the sea level, one of the highest passes in Alaska.

How long does it take to drive the Denali Highway?

The drive is a spectacular piece of Alaska road. Plan 4-5 hour to complete the remarkable drive without stops, although you may want to block out extra time to stop, take photos and explore the region it passes through, so you can drive the highway in a day, but it’s recommended at least one overnight. It’s lightly traveled. Depending on when you drive it, you may see only a few dozen cars the entire length of the road.