Denali National Park

   August 16, 2012

The bus tour begins at 9:30 a.m. and the day is partly cloudy so there is no chance of catching even a glimpse of Mt. McKinley.  You’d think something that is 20,320 feet and the tallest mountain in the Americas would be viewable.

Craig, our guide/driver in his 30’s has thick, brown curly hair, a mustache and  pale green eyes that match the color of his shirt.  He is informative, humorous and quite the adventurer and his expertise is the bear.  He has bicycled in Bolivia, been to 17 countries east of Germany and travels extensively.  Not bad for a boy who was born in La Salle, a small farming community in Illinois.

The 6 hour drive starts out like our drive yesterday, but continues through beautiful alpine meadows and tundra that was not on our route.  First sighting; a small caribou, but what follows next is amazing!  A honey-colored sow and her 2 cubs are grazing below us in the meadow.  After 15 minutes and much clicking of cameras, Craig continues the drive.  The scenery is magnificent with rolling hills and colors of orange, brown and green, a stunning contrast.  There is a stop (Polychrome Overlook) with an incredible view.

Denali National Park is the size of the state of Massachusetts so we barely touch the surface.  Suddenly someone in the back of the bus yells “bear” and as Craig puts on his brakes, off the roadway is a huge brown bear!  We end up seeing a total of 6 bear today; how lucky is that?  Also, beside 2 more caribou, there is a family of spruce grouse in the bushes near the roadway.  Craig says he has only spotted 10 in the 6 years he’s been driving.

A stop at the visitor center where we inspect antlers and stroke wolf fur and browse the gift shop.

On the way back, Craig drops us and some other passengers at the dog sled kennels where we are hear a lecture on the history of dog sledding and watch a  mushing demonstration

Catching a bus back to the Visitor’s Center, we grab a bite to eat at a café and then walk a mile to the parking area where our van is located, bringing our day to an end.

We are now at the Riley Creek Campground at 7 p.m. with at least 4 more hours of daylight.

I have so many amazing photos and so many folders in which they are stored; I don’t know where I would begin to put them.  My photo album would be as thick as an encyclopedia!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elaine Rudin
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 04:45:31

    weren’t you amazed at how sparse the vegetation is at Denali compared to say Yosemite.–Denali was the first time I had ever heard the word permafrost


    Aug 20, 2012 @ 02:29:26

    With your style of writing, I think you would make a great guide. We returned to Minnesota today, tired but happy that we wre able to make the trip. Rebecca and Allen saw the most wildlife, including many whatles and seals. The closest I got was a distant view of a whale’s tail…oh, yes, at the Mendenhall Glacier we did see one small black bear.

    Sorry that the trip did not match your schedule…I told Tom that our next trip to Alaska will inclue Denali.

    Keep sending your notes. Ardis


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