Over twelve years and $150 million went into the completion of the Parks Highway in Alaska in 1971. The highway travels through 358 miles/576 km of Alaska’s most rugged terrain from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Yet the George Parks Highway need not be feared, because it is the state’s widest and best year-round road. The Parks Highway connects visitors to Denali National Park, where you will find, Mount Denali, North America’s tallest mountain. The name Denali translates to “The Great One” and seems very appropriate for this 20,310-foot mountain.
There are excellent views of Denali from mile 70 at Willow and the rest areas at mile 134.8 and mile 163. Both offer spectacular views of Denali on a clear day. At mile 104 there is a good view of the three tallest peaks in the Alaska Range: Foraker, Hunter and Denali, left to right. At mile 132.5 you enter Denali State Park when heading north and leave the State Park at mile 168.5. The entrance to Denali National Park is at mile 237. To view our Parks Highway Map PDF click here.
The Parks Highway has over 40 bridges to cross with the longest being a 1050-foot span of the Susitna River at mile 104. The most spectacular has got to be Hurricane Gulch Bridge, as it is a breathtaking 254 feet above the white water of Hurricane Creek.
The Parks Highway mile markers in the following highway description correspond to the numbers appearing on the mileposts on the side of the highway. The Parks Highway mileposts are placed every mile for the entire length of the road (with some exceptions where the gap between mileposts is longer). This description of the highway begins in Anchorage and follows the route’s 358 miles to Fairbanks. The first 36 miles of this road log are on the Glenn Highway. When you reach Wasilla, you will join the Parks Highway.
For a complete list of Things to do in Alaska, visit our Things To Do section. For information on places to camp, visit our section on camping in Alaska. To determine when you should plan your trip to Alaska, visit our page on the best time to visit Alaska. Finally, many visitors to the north want to experience the Northern Lights, so we’ve put together a page of detailed information on how and when to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.
Updates on Road Conditions and Construction on the Parks Highway: http://511.alaska.gov
Parks Highway Highlights
Wasilla is home to the Iditarod Headquarters, which features a museum, gift shop, sled dog rides. Turn left on the Knik Goose Bay Road (when heading North) and drive 2 miles.
Big Lake Recreation Area
At Mile 52.2 is the road to Big Lake Recreation area, one of the major recreational areas for Southcentral Alaska. There are numerous lakes and campgrounds in this area including Big Lake, Beaver Lake, Rocky Lake and Horseshoe Lake. The lakes are connected by dredged waterways. Fishing is good for rainbow, lake trout, Dolly Varden, burbot, and landlocked salmon.
Hatcher Pass can be accessed from Palmer, Wasilla or Willow. The Willow-Fishhook Road from mile 71 leads to Hatcher Pass. most of this road is gravel and rough and may not be suitable for larger RV’s. Hatcher Pass is closed during the winter. If you decide to visit Hatcher Pass, be sure to stop at the Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Talkeetna can be reached on a 14 mile side road at mile 99 of the Parks Highway. Talkeetna is a cute frontier town that is the staging area for mountaineers attempting to climb Mt. Denali. It is also where most of the Denali Flightseeing tours depart from.
Denali State Park
Denali State Park begins at mile 132 of the Parks Highway and ends at mile 168. The Denali State Park has some of the best, and most accessible viewpoints of Mt. Denali.
The western boundary of Denali State Park touches the south eastern boundary of Denali National Park.
Denali Viewpoint (South)
At mile 134.7 there is a large rest area with magnificent views of Mt. Denali. There is plenty of space for all size RV’s. There is informational signs on the mountain and plenty of amazing scenery to enjoy.
Byers Lake Campground
Byers Lake Campground at mile 147 is in Denali State Park and has awesome views of Mt. Denali. There are 73 sites and the campground has water, toilets, a boat launch, fishing and hiking trails.
The Denali Highway meets the Parks Highway at Cantwell, at mile 210. The Denali Highway connects to Paxson on the Richardson Highway. The highway is mostly gravel and not recommended for large RV’s. However, it is a very beautiful and rugged highway, and should be added to any Alaskan adventure looking to get away from the crowds.
Most car rental companies do not allow you to drive the Denali Highway, but there are a few that do. You can find more info here.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park is the crown jewel of Interior Alaska. This is where you will find Mt. Denali, the tallest peak in North America. The entrance to the park is at mile 237.3,
You won’t be able to see Mt. Denali from the Denali town (which is 1 mile past the Denali Park Entrance), but if you take a shuttle into the park, you will get spectacular, close-up views of this towing mountain. Only the first 15 miles of the Park Road are open to the public. To go further on the Park Road, you will need to take a shuttle or have a park pass, which are given out in a lottery each year.
If you have reservations at one of the campgrounds inside Denali National Park, you will also be allowed to drive further than Savage River at mile 15.
Hotels & Camping in Denali
Things To Do in Denali
Healy is 9 miles from the Denali National Park Entrance. Many people choose to base themselves in Healy because it is less busy and less expensive than staying in the heart of Denali. There are hotels and campgrounds and a grocery store in Healy.
Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city and the hub for Alaska’s Interior and Arctic. It’s summers are known for the midnight sun, which never seems to set and its winters are known for it’s brilliant Northern Lights.
Accommodations & Camping in Fairbanks
Things to Do in Fairbanks
Frequently Asked Questions about the Parks Highway
How many hours drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks?
The drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks is 358 miles and takes between 6 and 8 hours. The Parks highway is a smooth fast road with speed limits up to 65 mph.
Is Fairbanks or Anchorage closer to Denali?
Fairbanks is closer to Denali National Park. It is 120 miles from Denali to Fairbanks and 240 miles from Denali to Anchorage.
Can I drive from Anchorage to Denali?
Yes you can drive From Anchorage to Denali on the Parks Highway. it is 240 miles of good highway and takes between 4 to 5 hours.
What is the best time of year to visit Denali National Park?
Summer is the best time to visit Denali National Park. Specifically, June – August. During the summer, the temperatures will be warmer and there will be very long daylight hours to explore (over 20 hours of daylight). It is also the best time to see wildlife roaming through the National Park.
How to get to Denali National Park without a car?
If you are not renting a vehicle in Alaska, you can still see most of the major sites, including Denali National Park. The Alaska Railroad is the best way to get to Denali National Park without a car.
Parks Highway Map
The map of the Parks Highway is shown by two different maps. The first map shows the highway from Anchorage to Mile 163, the Denali View Northern Viewpoint. The second section of the highway shows from the north viewpoint to Fairbanks.
The first 36 miles of the Parks Highway is shared with the Glen Highway. At mile 36, the two highways split.