Tangle Lakes is the next stop on our journey down to Valdez. We decided that we wanted to make the quick detour of 21.5 miles each way up the Denali Highway, and spend a few nights hanging out by the large lake, and river streams. Tangle Lakes has a special place in our hearts, this is where I brought Hillary to propose to her in 1998. I had brought her up to Alaska for the first time from her Ohio home just after her 18th Birthday, and on that trip we made a day trip from Delta to Tangle Lakes. We climbed one of the big hills that was behind the campground, and that is where I proposed on top of that hill just before the rain crashed down on us. We have been married for 18 years now, so we figured we needed to go where our marriage journey began.
Tangle Lakes is a BLM run campground 21.5 Miles up the Denali Hwy from the now shut down Paxson Lodge. The campground has 45 campsites, several of them our drive through, and there is a larger area for walk in tent campers. All sites are first come first serve, and on both week nights of our stay it filled up. The sites are large, but the layout of the area is fairly open as this is high tundra, so trees are not in abundance. Several pit toilets are within easy walking distance of most sites, along with bear proof dumpsters. The lake and river provide fishing, and at this time you can keep up to five grayling and one lake trout, of which I had no success at catching.
Several activities can be done in the area on a summer day. The lake itself is very large and can be used for paddle sports and motorboats. The lake boat launch is well taken care of with gravel parking, and is the starting point for the 30 river mile trek down the Delta River. This is a river float trip that has plenty of rapids and a one-mile portage around un-navigable waterfalls. Take off for this epic river trip is along the Richardson Hwy, and although many take out in one area, its possible to take out in many as the highway runs parallel to the river along much of its route.
The area around Tangle Lakes is protected as a BLM and Department of Natural Resources Archaeological District. This region has over 600 archaeological sites, that have yielded pit houses, hand tools, and other artifacts dating back 10,000 years from the Athabaskan hunters that once used the area for hunting grounds to supply their villages along the Gulkana River. The trails that were used along these hunting routes were an integral part of early miners.
During our stay we took the two mile round trip hike on the Tangle ridge that surrounds the campground, and rewards you with almost 360 degree views once you gain some elevation. Blueberry pickers will find more then they could ever collect, the area is known state wide for its blueberry yield. The photographer will find multiple subjects to shoot, just hope for blue skies.
To get here you will take the Denali Hwy either from Cantwell (113.5 miles) or Paxson (21.5 miles). Be aware that the road is paved from Paxson up until the one lane bridge at the entrance of Tangle Lakes Campground, after that it is a gravel road up till three miles before Cantwell. The paved road is in good shape, however it can be very bumpy in areas so speeds should be kept down as emergency services are a long way off if you or your vehicle have issues.
If you want to keep up with the outside world while you are here. Your Verizon powered phone with have 5 bars of 1x service, so no data. There is a public wi-fi, however we have yet to find its location, which is most likely near the camp host site. The camp host is very gracious and keeps busy keeping up with this very busy campground.
In conclusion we have enjoyed our stay, and would recommend the area to others. The fireweed is beautiful, the blueberries are abundant, and the tundra landscapes are beautiful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hi, I’m Jason. Husband of a wonderful wife, and papa of two crazy dogs. I am a Journeyman Sheet Metal Worker by trade, however you can often find me with tools from other trades in my hand.
I am an avid CrossFitter, and when I can’t make it to a CrossFit box you can catch me doing some other form of working out while on the road. As part of RV LIKE MIDGLEY you will find me writing how-to articles, snapping pictures, and just doing what I can to keep us on the road. Thanks for reading!!!