The trip from Seattle to Anchorage was uneventful. The Jeep performed flawlessly during the 2300 mile, 46 hour trip through Canada into Alaska with just a few stops to torque all the suspension components as required after any new suspension components are installed.
The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited arrived in Anchorage late on Thursday night with Friday and Saturday planned as free days if anything need to be addressed. The only required tasks for the two days were to clean the Jeep up and replace the cracked headlight lens lost during the trip. After some rearrangement of the cargo, we were ready for the weeks adventure.
Sunday Day 1
The information in the morning’s driver’s meeting would inform us that it would be a long day of off-roading and to be prepared for mud. With rain already starting to fall from the sky, we had the feeling that “be prepared” would be an understatement. After a short highway drive, we were topping our fuel tanks off and airing down our 37” Nitto Trail Grappler MT tires in the town of Wasilla in preparation for a muddy trail ride on the Baldy Mountain trail.
Once off the gravel road, the terrain turned familiar to us who are used to the wet, muddy terrain around Seattle. The trail wandered through tight tree sections, subtle rolling hills and elevation changes and then eventually entered clearings or areas similar to being above the tree line. About this time, the climbs became steeper and the rain began to increase making the trail muddier and more difficult as we continued on.
With the rain and trail condition becoming increasingly difficult and the first few Jeeps needing winch recovery, it was decided to turn around and backtrack our course to head to the night’s accommodation, the beautiful Talkeetna lodge near and with views Mt. Denali and the Alaskan Range.
But before reaching the lodge, we were detoured on a short drive to the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry so that any mechanical issues could be addressed and everyone could inflate their tires before hitting the pavement.
We were given an hour to address any issues (no issues with the ARB Jeep) and explore the grounds. If you get a chance to visit the museum, makes sure you do. After pouring a hot cup of coffee we explored the grounds littered with old machinery from old snow machines to old Alaska Railroad locomotives and passenger cars to old Air Force jets.
If you’re into old iron, the museum is a must stop if you ever find yourself in the area.
Monday Day 2
Monday was a travel day. The plan for the day was all pavement to reach our next accommodation, the Denali Village, a lodge just down the road from the Denali National Park entrance. Along the way we made a few quick stops, mainly to use the facilities and for some photo opportunities with Mt. Denali and the Alaskan Range poking through the clouds. While we were stopped at one of the photo areas, we were approached by a local land owner informing us that he had a better view point that we could line all the Jeeps up for a photograph. Of course we jumped at the chance of a better photo spot and after about 5 minutes on the road, we were lining the Jeeps up for a group photo.
Once we arrived at the Denali Village, a short meeting gave us the choice of relaxing at the lodge, take a bus ride into Denali National Park or go white water rafting.
Most of us, who have never been on a river jumped at the chance of rafting 10 miles down a class-4 portion of the Nenana river guided by the awesome folks at Nenana Raft Adventures.
Following the awesome rafting trip, we were greeted with a BBQ dinner back at the guide location. The rest of the night consisted of us sitting around a fire and telling Jeeping stories to end a great day with new friends.