Denali Highway & McCarthy Road Now Open To Car Traffic – After A Long, Cold Lonely Winter

Open For Business! Sure Sign Of Spring: DOT Announces You Can Drive On The McCarthy Road & Denali Highway  Paxson DOT crew at 12 Mile on...

Open For Business!
Sure Sign Of Spring: DOT Announces You Can Drive On The McCarthy Road & Denali Highway 

Paxson DOT crew at 12 Mile on the Denali. (Photo DOT, David Hoffmeister) 
During the winter, the Denali Highway and the McCarthy Road are not plowed by DOT. And the Department of Transportation website, 511, shows them as closed in winter to road travel

But spring has come. The snow has melted. The DOT trucks have been out – and the 135-mile long Denali Highway, from Paxson (in the Copper Valley) to Cantwell (on the Parks Highway) is open for the summer season. 
Blowing snow at Mile 28 of the Denali. (Photo DOT,  David Hoffmeister) 

The Department of Transportation made the announcement of the Denali Highway's road opening on May 13th, 2021. Also open for summer is the 60-mile long McCarthy Road, which links Chitina to McCarthy. 

Both the Denali and McCarthy Roads are dirt-and-gravel "highways" that are reminiscent of the old Pioneer Roads and trails of the earlier days in Alaska history. Even in far more recent times, people had to travel to Chistochina by dog sled in the winter, and there were "winter trails" and "summer trails" between roadhouses. 

Here's the full text of DOT's press release of May 13th:

The Denali Highway and McCarthy Road Are Now Open for Public Travel
Drivers are encouraged to check road conditions at before traveling.

(FAIRBANKS, Alaska) – The Denali Highway is now open from Paxson, on the Richardson Highway, to Cantwell, on the Parks Highway and will be regularly maintained until October 1. Beginning in mid-April, maintenance and operations crews with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) removed snow, thawed culverts and completed repairs along the 135-mile road.

McCarthy Road is also now open for public travel and will be regularly maintained until October 1. Conditions on the unpaved, 60-mile road, which runs between the communities of Chitina and McCarthy, will remain fair to difficult throughout the summer season. Drivers can expect a 35 mile-per-hour speed limit, rutting, rocks in the road, potholes, and soft shoulders.

DOT&PF urges drivers to be prepared for changing weather conditions when traveling on remote highways and roads by bringing extra food and water, appropriate clothing and footwear, and a first aid kit. Before traveling, please visit or call 5-1-1 for the latest road condition information. Seasonal weight restrictions are in effect, with updates available here.


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