July 4, 2020
Lodging and Car Rental (Must Read….Very Important)
Start Line Lodging
Runners and their crews will be required to attend the pre-race meeting and dinner at the historic Gakona Lodge located approx. 3.5 hrs from Anchorage on July 3rd at 4pm. The Lodge is located approx.. 1 hr south of the starting line of the race in Paxson.
The Gakona Lodge has accommodations for approx. 28 people and other area lodging within an easy hour’s drive of the lodge or less can be found here:
Search AirBnB for the Gakona and Glennallen areas.
RV Campers can stay at Gakona RV Park
Finish Line Lodging
The Denali135 race finishes just outside the town of Cantwell near the junction of the Denali Highway and Parks Highway. Post-race lodging (limited there to 20 rooms/40 beds) as well as the post-race award dinner will be held at the beautiful Denali Education Center which is a 20 minute drive North of the Denali135 finish line.
The Denali Education Center is an amazing local Alaskan non-profit who works with Denali National Park whose entrance is 20 minutes away and whose mission is to “Promote understanding and appreciation of Denali through informative and inspiring programs”. Spirit Trips has reserved 20 rooms (40 beds) for runners and their crews at the Denali Education Center and will be booked first come first serve. Each room has two double beds and private baths.
There are several other lodges and hotels within 15 minutes of the Denali Education Center but we feel it is preferable to secure lodging as near the Denali Education Center as possible so runners and crews are closer to the post-race award dinner and the many recreational opportunities available for runners and crews near Denali National Park.
It is imperative that runners and their crews reserve all of their lodging once they receive notification that they have been selected to run the Denali135. This should be done no later than February 15th since lodging reservations in Alaska fill up early each year. Waiting until March or beyond may or may not guarantee that you will find lodging.
All car rentals should be made the same time as lodging to ensure securing a rental vehicle. Only a limited number of rental car companies rent cars that can be driven on the Denali Highway due to the gravel surface of the road so Spirit Trips has partnered with Alaska 4x4 Rentals to provide competitive rental rates for SUV’s, Jeeps and Trucks that can be used as crew vehicles and driven on the Denali Highway and during your stay in Alaska.
This is a convenient arrangement since Alaska4x4 is located at the Anchorage Airport and make the pick-up and drop off of your rental vehicle super easy and straight forward.
As with lodging and car rentals…..RV rentals fill up quickly each year so reservations should also be made no later than January 15th.
Denali Highway driving tips and etiquette will be discussed during the mandatory pre race meeting in Gakona.
Nothing too crazy…just a few tips to make your trip more enjoyable.
Sample Itinerary (7-8 days in Alaska total)
Since any trip to Alaska is a big deal, we thought we would give you a basic outline of what you could accomplish in a week’s time when you come up for the Denali135. It’s a biiiig state so we encourage you to take as much in as you can while you’re there.
Day 1 – Arrive Anchorage and pick up your rental car (and coolers….info on those in Runners Info Pkg)
Day 2 – Spend Day in Anchorage food shopping and taking in local sights.
Or……travel to Gakona and do activity there….fishing/rafting/flightseeing etc.
Day 3 – Arrive Gakona for Mandatory pre-race meetings and dinner.
Day 4 – Run the Denali135…and maybe finish for the speedsters!
Day 5 – Run the Denali 135
Day 6 – Post-race dinner and award ceremony at Denali Education Center….explore Denali National Park area and activities put on by Denali Education Center or other local rafting, fishing, dog mushing or flightseeing guide services
Day 7 – Explore Denali Park area activities or Travel south to Talkeetna for activities there or depart for home from Anchorage Alaska with your badass Denali135 belt buckle.
If you have additional time, the Kenai Peninsula 4 hours drive south of Anchorage has some amazing scenery and activities galore. Rafting, Fishing, Gold Panning, Bear Viewing etc.
We know Alaska pretty well so don’t hesitate to ask us anything about how to make your Denali135 adventure a trip to remember!!
If time permits, we strongly recommend any guided trips with Ascending Path One hour south of Anchorage. Owners Heather and Matt run a top notch program with an excellent selection of amazing trips in Girdwood/Spencer Glacier. Take our word on this one.
Contributing back to the communities where we hold our races is super important to us at Spirit Trips. In the case of the Denali135, we have chosen to raise awareness and donations for the Denali Education Center who also happens to be graciously allowing us to hold our Denali135 post-race award dinner at their super cool Charles Sheldon Event Center on their campus 15 minutes south from Denali National Park.
The people at The Denali Education Center strive to bring awareness and appreciation for Denali National Park and their programs and outreach range from taking visitors on 2 hour interpretive guided natural history walks to multi day immersive nature programs for youth who without the Denali Education Centers outreach and passion, would never have a chance to experience the wonder of Denali.
Spirit Trips will be donating a portion of each race registration fee to The Denali Education Center and we strongly encourage our runners and their crew & pacers to do donate however they feel they can.
To share the words of Henry David Thoreau…..
“In Wilderness is the preservation of the World”