Paxson Alaska Hero
Photo Credit: ATIA, Michael DeYoung



The small community of Paxson is located on the shores of Paxson Lake, near the intersection of the Denali Highway and the Richardson Highway in Interior Alaska.


Paxson is a small town, home to about a dozen residents and cabins owned by people from Fairbanks, 180 miles north, or other parts of the state. Among the year-round residents are dog mushers, and you may see (or hear) kennels full of sled dogs if you stop here.


A lodge with rental cabins and guided sightseeing, birding, and boat tours is located where the two highways meet. Fifteen miles south of the intersection is a roadhouse that offers rooms for rent, a bar and restaurant, gas, and some groceries, but otherwise services in Paxson are limited.

Paxson Lake is known for its reliable fishing for lake trout, Arctic char, and grayling. At the mouth of the lake, where the Gulkana River begins, fishing for grayling is particularly good. The Bureau of Land Management operates the 50-site Paxson Lake Campground along the Richardson Highway with a boat launch and other facilities. One of the most popular river float trips in Alaska is down the Gulkana, and many people start their trip at the Paxson Lake Campground.

The Denali Highway, which heads 134 miles west from Paxson toward Cantwell and Denali National Park and Preserve, also offers some excellent recreational opportunities. This scenic highway is only open in the summer, typically from mid-May through October 1. Not far from Denali Highway's intersection with the Richardson Highway near Paxson is Tangle Lakes, a series of twisty, interconnected lakes that form the headwaters of the Delta River. The Tangle Lakes Campground has 45 sites and a boat launch from which people start the popular Delta National Wild and Scenic River float trip. 

The Delta River National Wild and Scenic River Canoe Route is a 35-mile paddle that starts at Tangle Lakes Campground and ends near Mile 212.5 of the Richardson Highway. The route includes Lower Tangle Lake, a portage around a waterfall, and a set of Class III rapids that most canoers line their boats around. The Upper Tangle Lakes Canoe Route is easier and shorter and starts where the Denali Highway crosses the Tangle River and ends at Dickey Lake, 9 miles to the south. 

At Mile 192 of the Richardson Highway, just north of Paxson, is public boat access to Summit Lake. The 7-mile-long lake is named for its location where the Gulkana River flows south into Copper River and the Delta River flows north towards the Yukon River. Fishing on the lake includes lake trout, grayling, and sockeye salmon.

Learn more about fishing in Alaska.

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