Ever Try Cycling Your Way Through Denali National Park And Preserve?

Cycling can be a great way to see Denali National Park and Preserve. NPS photo and elevation contour map of the Park Road.

Taking a hike in Denali National Park and Preserve is one thing, going for a bike ride is something entirely else. Fortunately, the park staff has created a webpage that outlines how to attack the park's 93-mile-long main Park Road by bike.

Among the information that can be gleaned from this site is that the park provides bike racks at campgrounds, rest areas and visitor centers. And that if you plan to park your bike and go for a day hike, rangers suggest you carry your bike 25 yards from the roadway and hide it from view. And that if you're leaving it overnight, tag it with contact information.

And under park regs, you're allowed to ride on park roads, through parking areas, along campground loops and the designated Bike Trail between the Nenana River and the Denali Visitor Center, but are prohibited from all other trails.

Now, if you plan to take on the Park Road, plan on pedaling either a mountain bike or a hybrid, as the road is paved to mile 15 (Savage River) and is graded gravel beyond that point. Also, much of the roadway beyond mile 31 is narrow and there are no shoulders. Travel restrictions for motor vehicles begin at mile 15, so traffic volume will ease up after this point, according to park officials.

Here's the nitty-gritty from park officials if you're planning to camp along your cycling trip:

Because much of the road is very narrow, we advise you to yield to vehicle traffic from either direction. Obey all area closures and treat wildlife the same as if you were on foot. If you wish to travel the Park Road by bike and camp outside of an established campground, you must obtain a backcountry permit at the Backcountry Information Center (BIC) and camp at least 1/2 mile (1.3 km) from the road with your tent out of view of the road. Camper buses can accommodate two bicycles per bus if you wish to use the buses to move your bikes along the Park Road.

If you leave your bicycle overnight, it must be left 25 yards from the road and out of sight from road traffic. They also must be adequately marked with the group name, backcountry permit number and date that they will be picked up. Please remember where your bicycle is; we do not conduct Search and Rescue operations for bicycles. It is not uncommon for bicycles to be damaged by wildlife - animals may be attracted to the salty sweat that accumulates on bikes, mostly on the seats and handlebars. Denali National Park and Preserve assumes no responsibility for any damages accrued to bicycles by wildlife or other park visitors.

If you wish to have your bicycle locked overnight, plan on using a designated bike rack at one of the campgrounds, visitor centers, or the Toklat Road Camp. These designated bike racks also make it easier to locate

If you wish to bike and then backpack, you must have the appropriate gear for backcountry camping, including a Bear Resistant Food Container and proper footwear for hiking at least 1/2 to 3 miles in trail-less terrain. Reservations are required to stay overnight in a campground along the Park Road.

And here are two more handy tidbits:

Cyclists need to keep in mind a few other special considerations. First, there are no repair stations along the way - so please plan to fix your own flats and other common problems. Also, Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66 is the only place to refill your water - so make sure you carry sufficient water or have a filter / potable aqua tablets for water from streams and rivers.

Comments

I biked part of it in 2001. After cycling the 414-mile Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay I didn't have it in me to do the entire 93 miles but we did ride out to Wonder Lake. I'd encourage a bike-packer to do this route. I'm glad to see the NPS encouraging thru-biking that road.

A nice shot of Ranger KJ GLover in the fireweed (but the shot was taken on the Dalton Hwy) and some Denali wildlife photographs taken by ranger Cale Shaffer can be seen in this archived story on www.adventurecycling.org

http://www.adventurecycling.org/library/index.cfm?StartRow=1

When Cycling Denali, What You See is What You Get So Deal With It! by Andrea Lankford
Features | Feb 2005
On a rainy, view-impared trip to Denali National Park, the author learns that to love wilderness is to love all of it, even the rain.