Denali Adventure is one of our fastest-selling tours and a superb way to leave civilization behind and experience Alaska’s stunning terrain on two wheels.
After acquainting ourselves with Anchorage, we’ll set out on the Glenn and Richardson highways, moving from lush farmlands to glacial mountain landscapes. Turning west we’ll pick up the gravel Denali Highway for 140 miles to Cantwell before taking the George Parks Highway to six-million-acre Denali National Park, home to Mt. McKinley and its snowy, 20,320-foot summit. We’ll enjoy a full day of exploration in the park before returning to Anchorage on the scenic Alaskan Railroad.
Primitive campgrounds and rough roads will reward you with sweeping vistas and the untamed wilderness of the north. By facing these challenges, you’ll gain more than your fair share of enduring memories. Because of the riding surfaces involved, mountain bikes or wide-tired touring bikes are recommended for this tour.
|Start Date:||Jul 12, 2014||End Date:||Jul 26, 2014|
|Start Location:||Anchorage, AK||End Location:||Anchorage, AK|
|Total Days:||15||Riding Days:||12|
|Rest Days:||3||Level of Support:||Self Contained|
|Miles:||430||Average Daily Mileage:||35.8|
|Type:||Self Contained||Meals:||Shared cooking|
|Technical Difficulty:||Moderate||Airport:||Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, AK|
|Tour Leader:||Pete Strause||Cost:||$1,749.00|
Spenard Hostel, Anchorage, Alaska. You’ll meet your group and tour leader at the Spenard Hostel, an ideal location for bike assembly, map meetings, and easy access to downtown Anchorage, known during the summer months as “The City of Flowers.” After distributing group gear and discussing cooking rotation we’ll head to bed while it’s still light out, dreaming of our upcoming Alaskan adventures.
Anchorage to Palmer, 51 miles. After breakfast, group photos, and quick bicycle safety checks, we’ll follow the bike path out of Anchorage, then head onto the Old Glenn Highway. Today’s ride is mostly flat with minor elevation changes, so we’ll be able to concentrate all our energy on spotting wildflowers and watching hawks, eagles, and falcons as they glide overhead. Tonight we’ll camp alongside the Matanuska River.
Palmer to King Mountain Recreation Area, 31 miles. Our ride today will follow the Glenn Highway and the Matanuska River corridor, which is a popular route for trumpeter swans, as well as cyclists. The corridor will take us through some of the most productive farmland in the state of Alaska, where farmers grow enormous vegetables during the brief summer months.. We’ll complete three good climbs today before settling in for a scrumptious dinner and rustic riverside camping at King Mountain Recreation Area.
King Mountain Recreation Area to Grand View Park & Café, 35 miles. We’ll give our legs a workout today as we tackle several major climbs, including some short 8-percent grades. When we reach Long Lake, we’ll be rewarded with ripe berries and stunning views of the 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier, located in the breathtaking Chugach range. On past tours, riders have visited the glacier to play in the snow. We’ll end the day’s ride at the Grand View Café, where a cold, pre-dinner beer or a warm slice of pie might tempt you.
Grand View Café to Mendeltna Creek Lodge, 45 miles. The first bit of our ride today will be uphill to the Eureka Summit (3,322 feet), passing Sheep Mountain Lodge, locally famous for its homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies and cinnamon rolls. In the afternoon we’ll have an easy ride to our evening destination at Mendeltna Creek Lodge and Campground. Gold in the creeks draining from the Chugach Mountains brought prospectors to this area in the late 1800s, so keep your eyes peeled!
Mendeltna Creek Lodge to Glennallen, 49 miles. Our ride today is mostly flat or downhill, which is lucky for us because we’ll want to use all of our energy and senses to take in Gergie, Arizona, and Buffalo lakes, and the awe-inspiring tundra. Should you want an excuse to climb off your bicycle and stretch your legs, there should be plenty of wild berries ripe for the picking. By the time we cruise through Glennallen, known for its natural beauty and great fishing, the Wrangell Mountains will dominate the skyline.
Layover Day, Glennallen. Glennallen, Alaska, the center of the Copper River Basin, is known as one of the area’s premier outdoor recreation centers and a very welcoming community. Groups in the past have opted for riverboat cruises, salmon fishing, and tours of the Copper Center — at one time a large Ahtna Athabascan village, and later, a principal supply center for miners.
Glennallen to Sourdough Roadhouse, 24 miles. From our starting point today, we’ll turn north onto the Richardson Highway, Alaska’s first road. Created in 1898, the highway was improved to serve automobiles in the 1920s, and fully paved in the 1950s. The highway features spectacular views of the Alaska and Chugach Ranges.
Sourdough Roadhouse to Tangle Lakes, 59 miles. Along with some challenging climbs, today’s ride offers spectacular views of the Alaska Range, which runs from Cook Inlet to the magnificent Mt. McKinley. As we pedal along the Denali Highway, we’ll get a chance to experience the true remoteness of Alaska: brilliant, wide-open sky and the freshest air imaginable. We’ll also have the opportunity to spot Arctic terns, cliff swallows, bald eagles, and several species of loons.
Tangle Lakes to MacLaren River Lodge, 21 miles. Early in the day, we’ll transition from paved to hard-packed gravel roads. We’ll cross McLaren Pass, the second-highest pass in Alaska, and the highest on the Alaskan Highway System. At the summit we can take a break to wander around and pick blueberries before enjoying a screaming downhill to the McLaren River, just a few miles from the Continental Divide.
McLaren River to Gracious House, 39 miles. Today’s scenic ride along the Denali Highway features first-rate scenery the entire way, with essentially no traffic and no major climbs. You’ll want to keep on the lookout for wildlife as this route is home to bears, pikas, moose, caribou, beavers, and foxes, just to name a few. We’ll cross the Susitna River and then make camp and cook dinner in the presence of glistening glaciers.
Gracious House to Cantwell, 52 miles. After a few short, steep climbs today, we’ll be rewarded with views of the towering Alaska Range, 12,300-foot Mt. Deborah, and permafrost-stunted, boreal forest made up primarily of spruce trees. After we pass by the Nenana River, we’ll be treated to one of the grandest vistas on Earth: North America's highest peak, Mt. McKinley. With approximately 80 percent of its 20,320' elevation rising above the surrounding landscape, McKinley’s base-to-summit elevation is actually greater than that of Mt. Everest.
Cantwell to Denali National Park, 31 miles. We’ll bid farewell to the Denali Highway today, switching back to pavement on the George Parks Highway, our road to the monster cinnamon rolls at the Roadhouse, mile 16. Today’s ride is mostly downhill, so we’ll enjoy a speedy ride to Denali National Park and our celebration dinner.
Layover Day, Denali National Park. Spend the day in Denali to explore this incredible piece of Alaska. You’ll have your pick of shuttle bus tours, wildlife tours, rafting, hiking, and cycling throughout the area before we head back to Anchorage on the scenic Alaskan Railroad. The conductors will actually slow the train down if they spot bears, sheep, eagles, or salmon swimming upstream! We’ll arrive in Anchorage around 8 p.m., with photographs and memories of our epic journey to last a lifetime.
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"Perfect balance of hands-on enough to keep things in line, and hands-off to allow for the enjoyment of all. Our group gelled well, and we all had a great time!"
2008 Tour Participant
"I think that the level of support for the price was outstanding compared to other tours I've done."
2008 Tour Participant
"I really enjoyed meeting the fellow bikers. Everyone was very warm and open."
2009 Tour Participant
"I thought I had died and gone to heaven on my first Adventure Cycling Association Tour."
2008 Tour Participant