he community of Paxson is located on the shores of Paxson Lake, near where the Denali Highway intersects with the Richardson Highway in Interior Alaska.
Paxson is a small town, with lots of cabins owned by people from Fairbanks, 180 miles north, or other parts of the state. Among the year-round residents there are plenty of dog mushers, and you may see (or hear) kennels full of sled dogs if you stop here. A large lodge is located where the two highways meet and offers rooms for rent, a restaurant, gas, RV parking and some groceries, but otherwise services are fairly limited here.
Things to do
Paxson Lake is known for its reliable fishing, popular for lake trout, Arctic Char and grayling. At the mouth of the lake, where the Gulkana River begins, the fishing for grayling is particularly good. The Bureau of Land Management operates a 50-site campground along the Richardson Highway at the lakeshore 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. Not far from the 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 scenic Delta National Wild and Scenic River float trip. The Tangle Lakes area also has several privately owned lodges offering fishing, bird viewing, kayaking, hiking and other outdoor recreation.
The Delta River Canoe Route is a 35-mile paddle that starts at Tangle Lakes Campground on the shores of Round Tangle Lake at Mile 21.5 Denali Highway and ends near Mile 212.5 of 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.
Outfitters and lodges in Paxson offer raft trips on the Gulkana River down to Paxson Lake. The day-trips are an excellent way to view a wide variety of wildlife that live in the area.
At Mile 192 of the Richardson Highway, just north of Paxson, is Summit Lake with a public boat access. The 7-mile long lake is named for its location near the divide 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.