Saturday, March 19, 2016

Alaska Range ~ Richardson Highway ~ Alaska

The beauty of the Alaska Range

We saw some incredible scenery on our Northern adventure like the tundra and the drunken forests, but nothing could compete with the beauty of the Alaska Range in south central Alaska.  When I thought of Alaska before our travels here, what came to mind was snow covered mountains and there they were.  Luckily it was a sunny day.

Amazing view of the mountains
We left Fairbanks and drove south to Delta Crossing then followed the Richardson Highway, Hwy 4.  This was our first sighting of the Alaska Range and was the first of many beautiful sights this day.  Needless to say, I took a lot of photos and had a difficult time deciding the best ones to share here.

The Alaska Range
The Alaska Range is narrow and 650 km (400 mi) long but filled with giant mountains.  It is the highest range outside of the Andes and Asia and includes Mt. Denali.  It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, (more on that later), and the Denali Fault, which is responsible for many earthquakes.

Richardson Highway in Alaska
We could not have had a nicer day for enjoying these views.  We had temperatures of 24C (76F) this day.  Several locations of the road were going through construction for improvements, but overall the roads were much better than what we’d been on the previous week.

A great lunch stop
We often stopped at pull-outs on the side of the road to have our lunch.  If the weather did not allow, we would eat in our RV’s but on this day, we were happy to be able to sit outside and enjoy this view!

The Delta River in the Alaska Range
The Richardson Highway follows along the Delta River through this area.  This tributary of the Tanana River is fed by the Tangle Lakes, which offers some great fishing and eventually empties into the Yukon River.  The Delta is 130 km (80 mi) long and one of four major rivers that cross the Alaska Range.

Beautiful scenery in the Alaska Range
Alaska has over 12,000 rivers plus thousands more creeks and streams, not all of them named.  We saw many of these rivers and streams on our travels but it would be impossible to see them all from the available highways.  So much of Alaska is not accessible by road, much of it by water only and some by airplane.  The bush pilots of Alaska would certainly be getting the best views.

The Gulkana Glacier
The high snowfall contributes to the many glaciers in the Alaska Range.  We did see several on our travels and learned that their sizes have been decreasing over the years.  I believe this is Gulkana Glacier, which flows from the icefields in the Range.

Summit Lake reflects the Alaska Range
This was Summit Lake but not the first one we saw with this name, it’s a popular name for mountain lakes.  It was calm and offered a lovely reflection of the mountains overlooking the lake.  I had to hang out the window to capture this scene on camera as it was behind us, not the first time and won’t be the last, I am sure. LOL

Mt. Denali
Mt. Denali is the highest mountain in North America at 6190.5 M (20,310’) high and can be seen from many miles away.   It had been named Mt. McKinley after a US president of 1897-1901 but was most commonly known as Mt. Denali, an Alaska Athabascan word meaning “the high one”.  As of September 2015, this beautiful mountain is now officially named Mt. Denali. 

More glaciers in Alaska Range
There were more glaciers to be seen as we made our way south along the Richardson Highway.  We stopped to fuel up at Glennallen then took Hwy #1 west to follow the Glenn Highway and spent the night at the Tolsona Wilderness Campground. 


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