Over Eureka Summit
After Long Rifle near the Matanuska Glacier, it’s another 85 miles east to Glennallen and the intersection of the Richardson and Glenn Highways. If you have a chance to make this drive in September, by all means, do it. The acres of aspen trees along this route turn a brilliant gold, and the contrasting dark green spruce, combined with the backdrop of glaciers and snowcapped peaks, make for some extraordinary photo ops. Grand View RV Park (Mile 110, 907/746-4480, www.grandviewrv.com) has RV sites ($28–33), cottages, and a café.
Sheep Mountain Lodge (907/745-5121 or 877/645-5121, www.sheepmountain.com) at Mile 113 is a rustic summer and winter destination. Its greenhouses and flower gardens add to the gorgeous mountain-backed setting in the summer, and the lodge serves home-cooked meals (summer only). Eleven cabins all have private baths and wonderful views; prices are $159 d for standard units or $189 d with kitchens. Basic hostel-style dorm rooms with a shared bath are a great bargain in the summer at $60 for up to four people. The wood-fired sauna and glassed-in hot tub are great places to relax after a winter day of skiing on the 10 miles of groomed trails.
Two miles away is Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge (907/746-2930, www.majesticvalleylodge.com), another place with a country setting and grand vistas. Guests stay in lodge rooms ($120 d), motel units ($165 d), or cabins ($155 d) and have access to a wood-heated sauna.
Slide Mountain Cabins (Mile 135, 907/822-5864, www.rvparkalaska.com) has modern log cabins for $99 d with private baths, or $75 d with a shared shower house. RV spaces are $20, tent sites $7.
When you get past Eureka Summit (Mile 130), you’re in caribou country, so scan the open ground everywhere for members of the Nelchina herd. From Eureka to Glennallen, and then north on the Richardson Highway toward Tok, it’s possible to spot caribou almost anywhere. Slow down and keep your eyes open to avoid colliding with one. Lodging, RV spots, and meals (breakfast, burgers, and pies) are available near the summit at Eureka Lodge (907/822-3808, www.eurekalodge.com). Lodging is $115–125 d in motel rooms with private baths and Wi-Fi, or $85 d for simple cabins (2-night minimum stay) with a shower house. In the winter, this is a very popular snowmobiling destination.
Pitch a tent at the free Little Nelchina State Recreation Site at Mile 138.
Located 17 miles west of Glennallen at Mile 170, Tolsona Lake Resort (907/822-3433 or 800/245-3342, www.tolsonalakeresort.com) is off the Glenn Highway, with a motel ($125 d), suites ($145 for 4 people), plus a full-service restaurant and bar. All rooms contain fridges, microwaves, and Wi-Fi, plus access to the sauna and laundry.
Three miles up the road toward Glennallen is Tolsona Wilderness Campground (907/822-3865, www.tolsona.com, mid-May–mid-Sept., RVs $35, tents $25). A collection of 1920s logging-camp artifacts fills the little museum here.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition