Driving to Alaska Day 12: A new phase of the trip begins

Welcome to post 12 of 18 in our Driving to Alaska series. We hope you enjoy the stories from this unforgettable 4,000 mile road trip!

Slana, Alaska to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve //

For the last few days there had been an offer on the table and this morning Mark & I officially accepted.  When Cade & Becca initially invited us to help them move to Alaska, Cade thought he would have more time for the move.  However, his new job ended up requesting a sooner start date than anticipated.  While he needed to be at work in 24 hours time, we had a whole week to kill before catching our return flight back to Boise.  Sure, we could have changed our flight but Cade & Becca had a better idea.  Instead of going all the way to Talkeetna with them, they suggested splitting up so that we could slow down and enjoy some of the incredible sights we’d be passing along the way.  This was an offer that we couldn’t refuse.

To make it happen we would need to swap vehicles.  We had been driving the truck and trailer that carried all of their possessions, while they had been driving their adventure rig that is fully-equipped for camping.  As soon as coffee was made two large outdoor rugs were laid out between the two trucks so that we could swap all of our stuff from one truck to the other.  The next thing we knew, they were driving away in the truck we’d called home for the last week and we wouldn’t be following behind.  Just like that there was no more deadline, no more need to drive as far as we could get in a day.  We had seven whole days to explore Alaska, as quickly or as slowly as we pleased.  

Swapping vehicles before temporarily parting ways with Cade & Becca.

Equipped with an Alaska atlas (the heaviest I’ve ever held at a massive 145 pages) and motivated by Cade & Becca’s recommendation, we headed to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.  Little did we know, we were a short drive from America’s largest, and one of its most impressive, national parks.  At 13.2 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias is home to four mountain ranges and nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the US.  The park also features one of the largest concentration of glaciers in the world.  We learned all of this while sitting in the parking lot of the Slana ranger station and reading the park brochure.  

Klutina River

Vehicles can access the park and preserve via one of two dirt roads, the 42 mile long Nabesna road or the 60 mile long McCarthy road.  We chose McCarthy road and made our way to the small village of Chitina where the road began.  While our excitement level was high, we were also feeling slightly disoriented from how quickly our trip had shifted gears.  We’d spent the previous ten days on a mission to get from Idaho to Alaska without much time to spare and all of a sudden we had nothing but time to do whatever we wanted.  Settling at a campsite sooner than later appealed to us more than exploring, there would be plenty of time for that in the coming days.  A small turnout off of McCarthy road offered a level patch of dirt that sat right at the edge of a lake with panoramic views of the Chugach mountains.  A fine place to call home for the night.

The decision to stop sooner than later turned out to be a good one when we realized it would take some time to adapt to our new accommodations.  Setting up a tarp and mosquito net was our first priority as the bugs and rain were going to make cooking dinner a challenge.  Once our outside shelter was rigged Mark prepared a delicious pasta dinner.  After dinner I longed to stay up late enough to watch the sunset but that wouldn’t be happening until 11pm.  We were coming down off the rush of the last 10 days and our cozy sleeping bags were looking more appealing than ever. 

Even though we dozed off well before sunset, I ended the day by contemplating the ways in which Alaska inspires a nocturnal existence.  The two most magical times of day, sunrise and sunset, happen at night in Alaska, at least this time of year.  If we were to ever fulfill our dream of spending an entire summer here, we might just need to become creatures of the night.

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  • I was wondering about the mosquito situation. That bug netting looks like a good idea as is the tarp. I opted for no awning on my FWC Hawk shell so the setup you have may be my next purchase. Safe travels!

    • I think we got lucky with the mosquitos due to all the rain. It rained a lot during our trip and any time it let up the mosquitos came out. In talking to a few locals and other travelers, it sounds like the mosquitos are pretty relentless in June and July.


We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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