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On Blueberry Hill

An enterprising pioneer, John Carlson, turned a small log cabin into a grocery store for Alaska Railroad workers in the early days.

Not long after, Ahtna Natives from the Copper Valley settled in Cantwell to work on the railroad.

For years, as in many parts of Alaska, the lodge was the cultural and social center of town. The Nenana River used to be called the Cantwell River.


Crowberries look a lot like blueberries, but they have a completely different leaf. They are edible, and help fill a bucket, or a pie.

Blueberries and lowbush cranberries are easy to find in high country, at mountain passes, all over the Alaska road system.

You’ll find berries in Broad Pass near Cantwell on the Parks Highway, and at Maclaren Summit on the Denali Highway.

You’ll also find berries at other summits along the road – including Thompson Pass and Turnagain Pass.

(Photos, BLM Glennallen Field Office, Dennis R. Greene)

Rugged Country

At Cantwell, the Nenana River turns north and runs alongside the road, carving its way through the Alaska Range.

In the early morning and afternoon light, this rugged country makes for great photographs, with shafts of sunlight and shadow.

+ Activities + Things to Get
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat

cantwell classic dog race


Ahtna Lands

Vitus Gas

UAF Invasive Species

+ Map of Parks Hwy Approach to Cantwell
+ Map of Denali Hwy Approach to Cantwell

+ Map of Bearfoot Campgrounds

In Cantwell, Don't Miss...
• Scenic vistas
• Wildflowers & berries
• Rafting
• Flightseeing
• Backcountry snowmachining in the winter


Cantwell Is At The West End
Of The Denali Highway


Population 218
210 miles from Anchorage
27 miles from Denali National Park

Started as a flag stop at the junction of the Parks and Denali Highways. Strong Native American population. The original town is off the Parks Highway. Flightseeing, fishing, berry picking along the road right-of-way.


Dozens of railways were incorporated in Alaska and Canada during the years from 1898 to the 1920’s.

Most of tracks that were built didn’t last very long. Some, like a coal track to Chickaloon, were spur lines for the Alaska Railroad. You can still see abandoned trains in the middle of the tundra if you visit Nome.

Even the 8.5 miles of track built in 1900 on the Homer Spit to carry coal was shut down by 1907.

The big plans to carry Alaska’s raw material to market quickly collapsed. Only two railroads, the White Pass & Yukon and Alaska Railroad have survived to the present.

How to tell Reindeer from Caribou
An Alaska Science Forum article on the difference between caribou and reindeer. This could be subtle, imprecise, or nonexistent, depending on your viewpoint. (The two animals share the same Latin name, for instance; so in the eyes of science, there's no difference at all.) The question is relevant here because Cantwell was home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Reindeer Research Station.


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