Day 11 – Tok, AK to Delta Junction, AK to Fairbanks, AK to Anchorage, AK

Miles today: 562

Total Miles: 4,426

OK, the title is a little long but that’s because I didn’t take the most direct route from Tok to Anchorage.  In order to “finish” the Alaska Highway, I had to make my way to Delta Junction which is about 90 miles north of Tok.  There’s not quite as much fanfare on this end of the highway – just a sign and a small shop.  In case its not clear, the Alaska Highway ends in Delta Junction, AK after 1422 miles.

Along the way, there are so many rivers and streams that taking a picture at each one is not feasible.  So, here are a couple of pictures that show basically what Alaskan Rivers look like – including an ice flow.  I will tell you that this is a smaller river, but they all fan out and cover an area that can’t be described by word or picture.

If it looks wet, this is why…

It rained in Central Alaska for the first time in several weeks and really helped with the wildfire problems.

One thing I found interesting is that Delta Junction is a big grain farming/cattle raising/agriculture area.  Given all the trees and northern-ness, I would have though it would be difficult.  But, there were several grain elevators, cattle ranches, and hay fields in the area.

Between Delta Junction and Fairbanks, there wasn’t a whole lot to take pictures of other than trees.  As you get closer to Fairbanks, you pass Eielsom Air Force Base – no pictures allowed – and all of the training aircraft used by the base.

Next was North Pole, AK.  Santa had some company at his “house”.

From Fairbanks, it was quite scenic but the rain and low cloud deck made driving difficult, stopping a bad idea, and taking pictures impossible.

Having said that, this is one of the more scenic drives in Alaska and takes you over the Nenana River, by Denali National Park and Preserve and later over the Susitna River and the Matanuska River.  When the rain finally stopped, here are some pictures of the landscape.

The mountains are so much more dramatic than those in the “lower” 48.  They seem to just erupt from the ground instead of growing out of the ground.  Another difference is that there is a large valley between the mountains and you don’t really drive “in” the mountains but rather between them.

One thing I saw but didn’t get a picture of was a cow moose with her twins  along the road in the Denali preserve.  Even though they were a 200 yards/meters away, she was impressively huge and the calves were equally impressive.  If the female was that big, the males must be enormous.

The drive into Anchorage was otherwise unspectacular other than the Chugach Mountains come into view (and they seemed to have quite a bit of snowpack left for this time of year).  Starting with Willow, Houston, and Wasilla, the suburbs of Anchorage are growing and modernizing.  Anchorage itself, based on the last time I was here, has really cleaned up and has a much more modern feel.  Definitely a “lower 48” feel.

One last note.  I was reminded today that, while accessible, the distance between Fairbanks and Anchorage is about 360 miles with not a lot in the middle.  I passed a parking area near Denali (south about 30 miles) where a tour bus and several RV’s were pulled over attending to at least two people with CPR (it looked like it anyway).  I’m not really sure what happened but these people were over 2 hours from Fairbanks and almost 3 hours from Anchorage (I met 3 ambulances headed north as I drove south).  You have to accept the possibility that if something happens, you may not make it back.