Activity of the week: Four-wheeling through history

06/22/2010
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Activity of the week: Four-wheeling through history

The term “up before sunrise” isn’t even applicable in Alaska, with the sun hanging over the mountains for most of the night, only teasing darkness. But getting up early while staying at the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge is not for nothing, as you’ll share the dawn with some of the resident wildlife, including bears, moose, caribou and fox. Not to mention, you’ll get the first dibs on the daily delicacies over at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, such as sourdough hotcakes, gigantic cinnamon rolls, hand-rolled bagels or the Roadhouse Standard (scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, toast, juice and coffee). If the original gold miners had access to this magnitude of a meal, they would have never made it up to the gold fields. Luckily, I’m taking the ATV.

The South Denali 65 Mile ATV Tour allows you to get behind the handlebars of your own ATV and drive behind a guide into the backcountry of south Denali. After a quick safety briefing, you’re on the open trail, riding along old coal mining roads carved out by the area’s first prospectors and onto a river bed where Athabascan Indian artifacts have been discovered. The scenery over the Healy Valley is fantastic, with cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation and plenty of wildlife. While drivers do need to have a valid drivers license, there is an option for children over six or those wishing to just enjoy the vistas to ride along on a four-person ATV. You have the chance to pan for gold in Peters Creek and enjoy a box lunch before returning. If the Roadhouse coffee doesn’t get your blood pumping in the morning, the jolt of cool air blowing your hair back may just do the trick.

If you go:

You can book this adventure from the Tour Desk at the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. The South Denali 65 Mile ATV Tour is six hours with a 1.5-hour roundtrip transfer. Prices are $149 for a passenger and $299 for a driver.