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Denali Road (The lottery one) and rental cars...

Denali Road (The lottery one) and rental cars...

Old Jun 21, 14, 12:18 pm
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Denali Road (The lottery one) and rental cars...

We've been emailed to say we're a winner for the road lottery this year but I've just hit a problem now with car rental... Now I know that some places have been discussed that are gravel roads but does anyone know of specific car hire companies that will allow rental cars down the Denali road? I was hoping to use enterprise as hertz/avis/budget all say no gravel roads at all, i'm sure I read on here though that enterprise allow it?
We can't use our own insurance either as we're from the Uk and not USA, we are over 30 though if that helps at all! Needs to be from anchorage aswell as that's where we fly into!

Any help is greatly appreciated
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Old Jun 22, 14, 12:36 am
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fti
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My problem with the wording of most car rental company contracts is that "no gravel roads at all" as you mentioned really means you can't even get from Anchorage to Denali NP. Every summer there is some portion of the Parks Highway that is under construction and is gravel. Plus, this summer, a pretty long portion of the Parks Highway between Denali and Fairbanks is also gravel. So if you held to the letter of the contract, you really couldn't get very far at all. I have made comments to a couple of rental companies about that and they have said that is not what they mean - they mean roads like the McCarthy Road, the Denali Hwy, etc.

Having said that, we all know that it is the written contract that takes precedence. The only major rental company I know of that lists the specific roads they prohibit travel on is Avis in Fairbanks. They don't list the Park Road (into Denali NP) since it is such a unique option with very few people even doing it.

My feeling is that if they let people drive on the gravel portions of the Parks Highway, why wouldn't they let the same people drive on the Park Road? The Park Road is, in reality, in at least as good of condition as the construction stretches on the Parks Highway.

Having said that, if you still are uncomfortable driving such rental cars on the Park Road, check out Go North or, High Country.

Congratulations on winning the Road Lottery! I am going too.
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Old Jun 28, 14, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by stevemack View Post
We've been emailed to say we're a winner for the road lottery this year but I've just hit a problem now with car rental... Now I know that some places have been discussed that are gravel roads but does anyone know of specific car hire companies that will allow rental cars down the Denali road? I was hoping to use enterprise as hertz/avis/budget all say no gravel roads at all, i'm sure I read on here though that enterprise allow it?
We can't use our own insurance either as we're from the Uk and not USA, we are over 30 though if that helps at all! Needs to be from anchorage aswell as that's where we fly into!

Any help is greatly appreciated
The only times that verbiage in the rental agreements means anything is in one of two situations:

-an accident
-a mechanical issue necessitating a tow

An accident is pretty unlikely on the park road. Traffic is obviously very limited, and you're not going very fast, so it should be pretty easy to avoid an accident. The worst you might do is accidentally hit an animal, and even then, you're not going fast enough to render the car undriveable, so just drive the car back to Anchorage and don't specifically tell the rental company where the accident occurred (how would they ever find out?). If they make you fill out an incident report, just write "Denali National Park" for the location and they really truly won't know any better.

In the event of a mechanical issue, the rental company (any decent one, anyway) normally takes responsibility and dispatches a tow truck. They won't pay for a tow truck to go out onto the wild, unpaved highways of Alaska (and will cite this verbiage to back that up). So, in the worst case, you'll need to pay for a tow back to paved highway and then they'll pick it up from there (of course, it's a different story if the mechanical issue is the direct fault of you driving off of paved highway, such as impaling your oil pan on a huge rock or something).

The above said, I personally would not hesitate to drive a rental car on the park road in your situation.
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Old Jun 29, 14, 9:19 pm
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From what I understand Midnight Sun Car Rental in Anchorage allows driving their cars on gravel roads. I've never rented from them so can't say how they are to deal with, how their cars are, etc. Might be worth checking out though.
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Old Jul 1, 14, 1:07 pm
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Originally Posted by alapah View Post
From what I understand Midnight Sun Car Rental in Anchorage allows driving their cars on gravel roads. I've never rented from them so can't say how they are to deal with, how their cars are, etc. Might be worth checking out though.
Mediocre customer service and shoddy cars...perhaps that's why they don't care if they go on gravel roads.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, though.

There is an outfit in Fairbanks that specializes in rentals for the Dalton Highway up to Prudhoe Bay. They supply you with a four-wheel-drive vehicle with two full-size spare tires, emergency supplies (rations, blankets, etc.), and other stuff you supposedly "need" when driving that road. Based on that, I guess I should feel dumb that I did it in a 1984 Toyota Tercel with one donut spare and not much in the way of emergency supplies (other than bottled water and peanut butter and jelly), but we had zero issues.

Anyway, they might be an option for (legitimately) doing the Denali Park Road. It wasn't cheap, IIRC ($200/day?), but OTOH, cars in Alaska generally aren't cheap anyway--although prices should be coming down by the time the road opens for the lottery.
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Old Jul 6, 14, 10:24 pm
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I've done the road lottery several times. You can do it in a regular car if needed...the road is actually in good shape, and the speed limit is a strictly enforced 35 so there's only so much trouble you can really get in to. That said, with all the flooding in Kantishna this year it may be pretty rough past the Eielson visitor center.

Every time I've done Road Lottery I've seen rental cars out there. The bar codes make them stick out like a sore thumb. I would say tread carefully, and get an SUV to be on the safe side. Bear in mind, too, that it's not unheard of for Denali to see snow that time of year. I've seen it myself at Road Lottery.
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