|a l a s k a j o u r n e y . c o m|
|Southcentral Mountains & Prince William Sound|
Road Conditions and Attractions125 miles. Good, paved road open year-round with some tight turns, narrow lanes, and steep grades. Views across Copper River to Wrangell Mountains, Alaska Range scenery, wildlife.
Known as the Tok Cutoff because Tok is where travelers can turn from the Alaska Highway to head for Anchorage, this 125-mile segment of the Glenn Highway connects the Tanana River valley of the Interior with the Copper River basin. The road follows a beautiful route through winding high valleys of the Alaska Range, crossing a low divide near Mentasta Lake. There are few specific attractions for the visitor beyond the road itself, which is enough. The mileposts for the Tok Cutoff start from zero near Gakona at the junction with the Richardson Highway and count up to Tok. Allow about three hours with no long stops.
Gakona Junction Village (Mile 0), junction of Tok Cutoff and Richardson Highway, Gakona, (888) 462-3221, 822-3664. New duplex cabins go for $100. Gas station and convenience store. RH
Gakona Lodge and Trading Post (Mile 2), Gakona, 822-3482. Historic Eagle Trail roadhouse dates to 1905. Motel rooms go for $5070. Carriage House Restaurant and Trappers Den bar. RH
Riverview Bed and Breakfast (Mile 3), Gakona, 822-3321. Nice log home overlooking Copper River, full breakfast, smoke free, $65 and up.
Chistochina Trading Post (Mile 32), 822-3366. Rooms, cabins, restaurant, campground, gas, gifts, airstrip. Rustic, typical roadhouse. Rooms are $65, cabins $60$80. RH
Chistochina Road (Mile 32.9)Most residents of Chistochina (population 58, 62 percent native) are Athabascan Indians, living largely traditional subsistence lives. Their homes are located at the confluence of the Chistochina and Copper Rivers.
Nabesna Road Junction (Mile 59.8)Turn here to drive the Nabesna Road (see WrangellSt. Elias National Park and Preserve, below) into WrangellSt. Elias National Park and Preserve. The settlement of Slana (population 61) stretches along the first 2.5 miles of the Nabesna Road where the Slana River meets the Copper. Town residents are mainly homesteaders who received 5-acre parcels of BLM land to build on before the remaining land in the area was incorporated into WrangellSt. Elias National Park and Preserve. Many have been embroiled in disputes with the park service about land use ever sinceas roadside signs attest. It is worth being especially sensitive to the rights of private landholders in the park and preserve boundaries. Slana has a general store, a bed-and-breakfast, an art gallery, canoe rental, and the WrangellSt. Elias National Park and Preserve ranger district office. It is also a put-in point for long-distance floats on the Copper River.
Duffys Roadhouse (Mile 62.7), Slana, 822-3888, 822-3133. Restaurant, gas, store. Inexpensive rustic room available. RH
Porcupine Creek State Recreation Area (Mile 64.2)Twelve campsites ($8) are available at this 240-acre wayside where Porcupine Creek meets the Slana River. Fishing and hiking are options.
Mentasta Lodge (Mile 78.1), Gakona, 291-2324. Cafe, motel, gas, showers, Laundromat, overnight parking. Rooms are $50. RH
Mentasta Summit (Mile 79.4, 2,434' elevation)North of Slana the Tok Cutoff follows the valley of the Slana River as it winds around several 5,000- to 6,000-foot peaks. The road opens into a wide basin before crossing this low divide and heading down the Station Creek valley and into the Interior. Look for Dall sheep on the slopes.
Mentasta Lake Junction (Mile 81)A road leads west to fishing spots at Mentasta Lake and the native village of the same name (population 115, 73 percent native). There are no public facilities at the lake.
Eagle Trail State Recreation Area (Mile 109.3)About 15 miles south of Tok, this 640-acre recreation site is located along the original trail from Eagle to Valdez, the length of which is followed today by the Tok Cutoff and Taylor Highway. You can hike along a segment of the original trail. Forty campsites available.
The Clearwater Creek Trail (10 miles, 1,200' gain) follows the valley of Clearwater Creek northeast to a high, exposed valley with possible ridge walks. RT23 days.
Tok (Mile 125)See Tok.