Greg's 2007 Odyssey travel blog

Southern view point for Mt McKinley and Denali NP

Typical view along Parks Highway: fireweed along the side and mountains in...

The river we are about to raft down

Some of our Group suiting up

Suited up and ready to get wet!

Heading for the rafts

Loading the rafts

Off we go

A floatilla of rafts running the rapids

A rainbow for luck

Where we had just come through

Good and soaked

Offloading the rafts

The end of a great ride

The official photo of my raft




Directions -- 7.8 miles north of National Park entrance on left side of road.

Milepost guide page 411

Travel day.

From the base to summit, Mount McKinley is the tallest mountain in the world (the Himalayas start at a higher elevation). Its steep, snow covered slopes are sometimes shrouded in clouds, but often present a dramatic profile against the skyline. Its crowning glory looms 20,320 feet above sea level -- symbol of all the beauty and majesty of Alaska. The Athabascan Indians who lived in its shadow called it DENALI -- The Great One.

It's more than a mountain. Denali National Park & Preserve features North America's highest mountain, 20,320-foot tall Mount McKinley. The Alaska Range also includes countless other spectacular mountains and many large glaciers. Denali's more than 6 million acres also encompass a complete sub-arctic ecosystem with large mammals such as grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, and moose.

The park was established as Mt. McKinley National Park on Feb. 26, 1917. The original park was designated a wilderness area and incorporated into Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980. The Park was designated an international biosphere reserve in 1976.

Healy, your home for the evening, has an interesting background. Healy is a small, year-round community, 12 miles north of Denali National Park. Population is 1,000. Its power plant has the distinction of being the largest coal-fired steam plant in Alaska, as well as the only mine-mouth power plant. Healy provides a quiet spot away from all the congestion and noise at the front of the park during the summer. Usibelli Coal Mine, Golden Valley Power Plant, a K-12 school, and tourism provide most of industry in the area.

School, sports-especially ice hockey and basketball, scouts, church activities, art, technology, dog sledding, hunting, berry picking, hiking and holding down a job keep most citizens very busy for the year. It's a great place to raise a family!

A medical clinic, five restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, post office, and other major services are here. Healy has many fine and economical B&B's and hotels. Average summer temps are 60-80. Summer rainbows often mysteriously appear in clear, early evening skies with the help of the Alpenglow. In winter there are great Northern Lights views. What a great place to see.

A possible option: White water rafting.


Today was another short driving day. After packing up the coach, we were off northward to Denali RV Park. I started out doing 50-60 MPH to take longer to get there as we weren't supposed to arrive before 1 PM. As it turned out, the last half of the journey was over miles and miles of recently repaired frost heaves, which were not much better than the original damage. I had to travel between 30-40 MPH tops.

I passed by an Alaska RR Sightseeing train heading south to Anchorage across a canyon opposite the road I was on. It must have had 30 passenger cars and half a dozen two story observation cars. It looked pretty cool. I wasn't able to take a photo.

I also passed an RV parked on the shoulder of the highway near 3 moose munching away to the side of the road. Again, no opportunity for a photo.

With so much focus on the road, I missed the RV Park and went about 10 miles before I realized that I must have passed it and another 5 miles to find a turn out big enough to allow me to turn around. On the way back, I saw it right away and pulled in. The wagon master tried to get me into a long spot by backing the rig w/trailer attached. Unfortunately, I stuck out into the traffic path too far. The owner came over and suggested another spot. I backed into it, after a few tries. I stick out only slightly now.

Many of the group are going white water rafting this evening on the Nenana River. I chose not to. But one of the fellows who signed up for it decided not to go, as he wasn't feeling well. The water temperature is around 37F. So I decided to go in his place. I'm really glad I did. It was great fun. We went through 6 or 7 strong rapids and got pretty well soaked. I sat up front and was able to get off a few pictures before I had to put the camera in a waterproof bag for the rough water. The weather was really strange. It initially was overcast, then the clouds cleared and it was sunny and then the clouds returned and it rained pretty hard. By the time I got out of the boat, my hands were frozen and my butt was numb from sitting so long on the semi-hard rubber seat. We left the RV park at 6 Pm and returned at 10PM. The white water ride lasted about 2 hours. The rest of the time was suiting up and taking us to the river to start the journey and picking us up, returning to their location to unsuit, gather our things and be returned to the park.

I had to change into some dry clothes and thaw out. Tomorrow, we leave early for an all day bus tour of Denali NP.

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