The George Parks Highway Scenic Byway
Length: 230 miles / 370.149 km
Time to Allow: Allow at least 4 hours to fully experience this byway.
The George Parks Highway Scenic Byway takes up 230 miles of Alaska in the southeastern part of the state close to Canada. From this location, you can easily head to Anchorage after and the coast to visit the Gulf of Alaska. Choose this byway if you have at least four hours, but honestly, a week or longer will provide the most opportunity for adventure. You can also visit the Denali National Park for impressive views of wildlife.
Start your journey in Fairbanks and drive across Chena River. Fairbanks offers some civilization amongst the Alaskan wilderness with views of the Tanana River valley. Choose this location to see the Alaskan Lights and even a Reindeer Ranch. Several museums add some interest, as does the impressive nature and animal refuge for waterfowl. Many hotels in town offer sanctuary for the night, or you can try camping at the Chena River Wayside or Rving at the Rivers Edge RV Park and Campground.
Move south to Nenana next and visit the Eielson visitor center next near Wonder Lake that leads to the Nenana River ripe with turns, canyon passes, and much more. Wonder Lake is an epic site with impressive scenic views where you can see grizzly bears, wildflowers, and berries. View the glaciers as with a rainbow of mineral rocks. Take a hike or enjoy the water with views of Mount McKinley and Muldrow Glacier.
Denali National Park is next, with a whopping six million acres making this park about the size of Massachusetts. Access is limited to preserve the park, so make smart plans for visiting. It’s a wildlife sanctuary with over 20 mammals and over 150 birds. No cars are allowed past Savage River. Definitely plan a day or two in the summer to visit the park with mountains towering over at more than 18,000 feet that are even higher than Mount Everest.
Continue south to Broad pass for panoramic peaks forming part of the Continental Divide before heading to Hurricane Gulch with wonders at every turn with a bridge and much more. From there, head to Denali State Park with white and green grove of trees and the Susitna River and bridge. View the mountains and gigantic glaciers for impressive sights.
Next, stop in Talkeetna during climbing season to start an expedition with access to Mt. McKinley. Spend a night or two at Nancy Lake State Recreation area for camping. It’s a swampy area with 130 lakes and tons of wildlife. Big lake is next, with dozens of ponds and glaciers with shorelines for boating. Many restaurants dot the waterfront making for an excellent destination.
In Wasilla, find two narrow lakes with options for swimming in the summer and skating in the winter. The views are incredible, and the town offers some interesting sights, including a museum and visitor center. Stop at the wetlands trail for hiking or at the Farmer’s Market for some fresh fruit. Several hotels in town provide sanctuary, such as Alaska’s Lake Lucille Bed and Breakfast. Hatcher Pass is next, with a wilderness detour with a stream full of salmon.
End the trip in Palmer with ice sculptures and dramatic ice-fed rivers. A colossal sheet of ice covered the area thousands of years ago, making the area unique with tons of vegetables growing visit some museums and a Reindeer farm. From there, visit Pioneer falls before ending your trip in Anchorage to extend your adventure.
More Alaska Byways
You can check out additional Byways in Alaska by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Alaska Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.