July 19, 2015 Wasilla, Alaska

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

A Gorgeous Day at Hatcher Pass

Yesterday I left Anchorage and travelled a short way north to Wasilla and set up in the Walmart parking lot. I am truly experiencing a real wilderness adventure the past week or so, boondocking first in Cabella’s parking lot and now at Walmart, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find a decent private campground in my Alaska travels. All have you packed in like sardines and seem very much overpriced for what they offer.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Three Rocks
Three Rocks

With nice weather predicted for today I was out and about before 7 AM and drove out the Wasilla-Fishhook Road heading for the Hatcher Pass. The Little Susitna River parallels the road as you gain elevation on the way up to the pass, so I had to stop for a few river shots.

Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River

The easily climbed paved road up to the State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass provides several great vantage points for photos as well as a couple of primitive campgrounds that would handle mid-sized rigs.

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park
Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

There are a few restored buildings at the State Park and some old mining facilities that have definitely suffered from years of abandonment.

Old Mine Works
Old Mine Works
Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays
Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

There also was this Alaskan Marmot warming himself up in the early morning sun.

Alaska Marmot
Alaska Marmot

He appeared pretty used to human presence but kept a close eye on this photographer as I was capturing his image.

Hatcher Pass Road
Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass

Just before you reach the State Park, there is a gravel road that takes off to the left and heads up to Hatcher Pass itself. This is a little narrow and steep in a couple spots, and although it probably could be done in the motorhome, i wouldn’t recommend doing so.

Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass

The road climbs for a half mile or so to a small parking area at the very top where you can walk out a footpath for some pretty dramatic views of the valley below where the road then takes you eventually to Willow.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds
Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Some of the high meadows up here have this weird mounded texture. These mounds are about a yard wide and rise up about a foot or so in the center and are covered in moss.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds
Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

I have no idea how or why these exist, and can’t say as I have ever encountered anything like them before.

Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass

At times today, I literally did have my head in the clouds.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top
Hatcher Pass View From the Top
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

As you can see, you are well above treeline up here and the air is crisp and clean, the distant view just simply spectacular.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

The narrow gravel road, in relatively good shape, leads you down from the pass and to the town of Willow, about thirty miles away.

Mine Tailings
Mine Tailings

Along the road there are a few active mining operations as well as some abandoned ventures.

Sounding the Alarm
Sounding the Alarm

All along this road, especially at the higher elevations, were these ground squirrels, some of whom were a little wary of me …

The Lookout
The Lookout

…and some that probably had discovered that some people will throw them some little treats if they look cute and approach your vehicle.

Ground Squirrel Portrait
Ground Squirrel Portrait

This guy was one of the latter.

All along this road, I was constantly scanning the meadows and mountain slopes looking for wildlife. I was sure I would have to see some sheep or bears somewhere along the way, but I never saw anything, even though I stopped every mile or so and glasssed all the slopes. Perhaps the weekend warriors scared evrything off? It just looks like there would have to be wildlife up here.

Descending to Treeline
Descending to Treeline

The road eventually descends back below treeline, where you start to encounter fireweed once again.

Road to Willow
Road to Willow
Roadside Fireweed
Roadside Fireweed

This was close to a ninety mile round trip and it took me about six hours to make it around with all the stops for photographs. The Willow side of the mountains appears to be a very popular spot for the local ATV crowd.  THere were several pulloffs for camping along that section of the road and on this Sunday afternoon, almost all of them were occupied by campers with ATV’s. The State Park land doesn’t allow ATV’s.

If you are ever in the Wasilla area and have some decent weather, this is a must do trip.

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8 thoughts on “July 19, 2015 Wasilla, Alaska”

  1. The Amazon link worked for me.

    We were supposed to have gone to Alaska this year, but a family matter prevented that. I’m living vicariously through your gorgeous photos.

    1. Thanks for your confirmation of the Amazon link working. Pretty hard not to get decent photo results when one encounters weather like the last few days in country as spectacular as the mountains of Alaska. A very nice break from the normal gray skies and light rain. I am heading up to Denali NP and the area around the park for the next two weeks and unfortunately, the long range weather forecast is predicting two solid weeks of rain with no breaks. Sure hope they are wrong.When I was there many years ago, I made three seperate trips into the park over a two week period and it rained every time and the mountain couldn’t be seen. Certainly hope I get to see it this time.

    1. Good to hear from you. I am heading into Denali in a week so there probably will be a complete lack of posts for a week or two as I have reservations at Telanika CG 30 plus miles into the park, so no internet connection and no way to leave the park until the end of my reservation period. I will also be exploring the Denali Hiway both prior and after my time in the park and I imagine internet connections there will also be a problem, so my blog will be going dark for a while. Hopefully I will accumulate a lot of good stuff while up there.

  2. I still don’t go anywhere when I click on the link to Amazon you have at the end. It just goes to a blank white page. I would love to help out, and I order frequently from Amazon. Is there any other way to do it?

    1. You could try clicking on any of the sidebar links and see if that gets you through. I really appreciate your effort in trying to connect from my site and i know how frustrating these matters can be when something that should work apparently doesn’t. I have checked out all the links from my end and they all work and I have had other followers tell me that they are getting through, so I wish I could help but just don’t have any idea why it isn’t working for you. Again, thanks at least for trying.

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