Tag Archives: driving

Cushman Street

Cushman Street, downtown Fairbanks, circa 1930’s; Photo from Alaska Digital Archives


Happy National Bison Day

Running the Bison Gauntlet; Alaska Highway, British Columbia

It’s National Bison Day in the U.S., and the shaggy beasts are worthy of celebration, but they don’t like hugs. I’m talking to you Yellowstone Visitors…

A friendly chart from the National Park Service on the best parts of a wild bison to pet. #keepwildlifewild

Horner Motor Sled

Lower 48 Tested; Not Alaska Approved:

Appeared in: Scientific American – 22 January 1922

Designed in Ruby, Alaska by Frank Horner, the motorized “dog sled” was powered by rear wheels that drove a cleated belt. The sled was tested in the Lower 48, but never traveled through Alaska powder.


Happy Birthday Guadalupe

Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established on this date in 1972. As I’ve said before on here, GMNP is one of my favorite National Parks. My trip there, which involved some serious dirt roading in a ’73 Beetle, was completely spur of the moment and unplanned. I brought back a Bug full of memories when I found this gem in Texas.


Quiz

Unknown date; Traveling north out of Fairbanks

I was sent the above picture, with the question: “Where in Fairbanks is this?”

My response: “Behind a Land Rover.”

I received an “eye roll” emoji for my efforts.

Other than the Series Rover, the image shows what is now the Steese Highway as it swings by Birch Hill.


Flash Flood across the Richardson

Before: Bear Creek meets the Richardson Highway

Fairbanks remains pretty dry, but we’ve had a couple of tenths of an inch of rain lately. Out east, near Black Rapids, a heavy rain storm coupled with heavy snowmelt caused a flash flood to hit the Richardson Highway where it crosses Bear Creek.

After: The power of running water

Bear Creek won. Travel to the fishing mecca of Valdez from Fairbanks will now require a much more round about way.


Alaska Highway Closure

Washout on Highway 97; Photo credit: Yukon 511

A severe washout has taken out both lanes of the Alaska Highway in British Columbia, just short of the border with the Yukon Territory. The location of the closure is between Liard Hot Springs and Watson Lake. Judging by the size of the ditch, repairs may take a while. No immediate detour is available.

An aerial view; Photo credit: Nate Vallier

Travelers will have to make a route change early if they want to continue on to Watson Lake and/or Alaska, or do some serious back-tracking. The alternative is the very scenic Stewart-Cassiar Highway, also known as Highway 37. It’s a beautiful route, but more remote. I recommend bringing extra gas.


Music on Top of the World

It’s Chickenstock weekend!

Chickenstock, the uniquely Alaskan music festival, is being held this weekend in Chicken, Alaska.

Chicken, which is just a leisurely drive up the Taylor Highway, was founded in 1902 by a group of miners. Legend has it that the miners wanted to call the new community Ptarmigan, after the local bird population, but couldn’t agree on a spelling, so they settled on Chicken.

As of 2020, the population of Chicken was 12, which is up from the 2010 census of 7. That’s close to a 42% increase! The Forty Mile District is booming!

2022 is the 16th Chickenstock, with a break in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Get your cluck on!


Alaska Time

A landslide across Lowell Point Road, outside Seward, Alaska

A landslide blocked Lowell Point Road in Seward over the weekend. Workers began to cautiously clear the road on Monday. Lowell Point is outside Seward, and the narrow gravel road follows the shoreline of Resurrection Bay out to the point, where there are several campgrounds, lodges, resorts and B&B’s. It’s a pretty area, dominated by the beauty of Resurrection Bay. As of Tuesday, there were at least 40 cars trapped on the “wrong” side of the landslide. No word on how many travelers, who were trying to get out to Lowell Point, and now can not get to their destination.

The landslide view from the air

This post is less about the landslide, and more about giving yourself extra time when visiting Alaska, and accepting the unexpected.

This is Alaska, after all.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about the slide from tourists, and I know several housing accommodations have taken some flack for the road closure. No matter where you are in Alaska, and this includes Los Anchorage, you are never very far from wilderness. That is the main draw of the place.

Our infrastructure is minimal when compared with the Lower 48. Many communities have one way in and one way out. In my time in Alaska, I’ve probably seen it all: Roads closed from landslides, wash outs, beaver dams, ornery moose and/or grizzly, avalanche and wildfires. Flights delayed or rushed because of blizzards, volcanic eruptions, and pilot strikes. Sometimes, all you can do is take a deep breath, open a cold refreshment, and chill out for a day… or two…

We all have deadlines, but sometimes we find ourselves dealing with forces that have no interest in flight departures. So, if you visit Alaska, by all means, get out and explore the state, but leave the time planner at home. Enjoy both the view and the ride.


Denali Road Droop

Denali Park Road at Pretty Rocks; August 2021

The above picture is of the Denali Park Road at the Pretty Rocks formation last August. That was the last time any gravel had been dumped in this section of road that is dropping due to melting ice under the roadbed.

Denali Park Road at Pretty Rocks; Spring 2022

This spring, maintenance crews discovered that the road had dropped as much as 40 feet at the troublesome section near Pretty Rocks. It had already been decided that the park road would be closed for the 2022 season due to the roadbed situation, but the drop was more impressive than forecast.

A new bridge will be installed over the section with the melting ice formation, and will be secured into solid rock on either side of the great melt. I expect that the road into the heart of Denali Park to remain closed through the 2023 season.

Pictures credit: Denali National Park & Preserve