The Parks Highway is a major road that leads north of Anchorage.
The Parks Highway Takes You North Of Anchorage
North On The Parks Highway
Wasilla, Big Lake & Houston
Between Mile 35 and Mile 58, Parks Highway
Behind all those big box stores, in Wasilla, there's rolling land – with trout-filled lakes and dog trails, headed north to Nome. Iditarod Headquarters and Visitor Center is 2 miles down the Knik-Goose Bay Road. The Parks Highway splits off the Glenn Highway, 35 miles from Anchorage and heads northwest, paralleling the Susitna River and the Alaska Railroad.
A series of communities grew up around lodges every ten miles or so: Wasilla (m. 42); Big Lake (m. 52); Houston (m. 57); Nancy Lake (m. 67); Willow (m. 70); Sheep Creek (m. 88), and Montana Creek (m. 97).
Willow & Montana Creeks
Between Mile 69 and Mile 97, Parks Highway
From Willow Creek to Montana Creek, the small rivers that cross the road are known as "creeks." In the summer, the creeks are filled with salmon. In smaller streams, two factors control whether you’ll catch a fish. The first is timing. Salmon come up the river in “runs,” leading to the term “The fish are running.” You have to wait until the “run” arrives.
A second factor is weather. When it rains, these smaller streams rise and get muddy, dampening the fishing. In rain, fish take advantage of the high water and swim through. Hit a day when the fish are running and the water is clear, and you’ll have a great time. Remember, you’ll need a fishing license – and a king stamp for kings.
Mile 71 Parks, Hatcher Pass Road
Rugged road with paving on both ends and gravel in the middle. It's 32 miles to Independence Mines, from the Parks Highway.
The drive may seem long, but you won't be disappointed once you arrive. Miles of hiking trails above timberline, berries in season and Alaskan history are all visible in this one trip, close to Anchorage.
Mile 99 Parks, Mile 16 Talkeetna Spur Road
Today, Talkeetna is a visitor’s haven. But part of the reason it’s so appealing now is that it developed in a rough-and-ready manner as a supply center for the old-time miners and trappers who used it.
There aren’t many places in Alaska like Talkeetna. Most of the town is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s full of cabins and railroad buildings. With a storied history, Talkeetna is still very much alive and active. Many Talkeetna residents are expert log cabin builders. They’re people who are proud of the lives they’ve made for themselves and their families.
Mile 114 Parks Highway
Trapper Creek – the southern gateway to Denali State Park – was settled before the Parks Highway was built. It stretches out along the Parks Highway 15 miles northeast of Talkeetna. Originally, there was no bridge, so settlers had to travel to their homesteads either by barge or over the winter ice, from Talkeetna.
This area was homesteaded in waves in the late 1940’s, the 1950’s and finally in the 70’s and 80’s. The most well-known group were “The 59ers” from Detroit, Michigan. There are unparalleled views of Denali on the Petersville Road and in Denali State Park. The Petersville Road is mining, prospecting and recreation country.
Denali State Park
Mile 135 Parks Highway
Mount McKinley, as the crow flies, is only about 36 miles from Byers Lake Campground. This is the view from Denali View South at Mile 135 Parks Highway.
Continue further north on the Parks Highway to reach Cantwell, Denali National Park, Nenana, Anderson, Fairbanks and more. The further you travel north, the more likely your day trip will turn into an overnight, multi-day, or even longer excursion into the adventure country of Alaska.
Parks Highway Day Trips
Heading Toward Denali and Adventure Slideshow Places
The Parks Highway leaves the Glenn Highway 35 miles north of Anchorage. The Parks follows the railroad and several rivers on its way north. There are lots of interesting towns along the Parks Highway. You'll see Denali on sunny days, and perhaps even see bears, moose, and lynx along the highway.
The Parks Highway is officially called the George Parks Highway because, even though the road crosses National and State Parks, it's named after an engineer.