Denali National Park, AK
Jul 28, 2007
|SATURDAY, JULY 28 - DAY 26 - DENALI TOUR
DENALI - DENALI RV PARK
Milepost guide page 411
Day bus tour of Denali National Park. Lunch included.
Today we will tour Denali National Park. If we didn't get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley yesterday, we will have another opportunity today. Keep your fingers and toes crossed that the clouds that sometimes shroud a mountain like this stay away and give us a spectacular view.
While on your bus tour, keep your eyes open for caribou, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, Dall sheep, lynx, ground squirrels, Marmots, foxes, and snowshoe hares. Perhaps nowhere in Alaska will you find the magic that is uniquely "hers" more evident than in Denali. This will be the most personal communication with nature you've ever experienced.
Your tundra wildlife tour will take you 65 (weather permitting) miles into the Park. Study the fascinating sub-Arctic alpine plant life while on the lookout for the natural inhabitants. At the turn around point, you'll have the best view of massive Mt. McKinley, in all its icy splendor.
After a glorious day, it's time for another one of those great Alaska Salmon Bake with Halibut Nuggets, delicious ribs and more.
Denali National Park
Ancient Alaskans called Denali "The High One" for good reason. Towering at 20,320 feet, Mt. McKinley is North America's tallest peak. Glimpses of the mammoth mountain are visible along stretches of the Parks Highway, with designated pullouts providing the best views. In 1917, Congress protected this area as a National Park. Birdwatchers have identified more than 130 species and naturalists have confirmed at least 40 mammal species that live here. The park covers 5.6 million acres. Your experience in Denali will touch your soul forever.
Our tour bus collected us at 7:15 AM and headed for the entrance to the park, about 10 miles back down the highway. We entered the park and started our 6 hour journey, 69 miles into the interior of the Park. There were rest stops every hour or so, allowing for leg stretching and potty breaks and spectacular views.
The weather in the park was unique. It was partly cloudy, rainy in places and sunny in other places.
The paved road stopped shortly after passing the Park administration complex and turned to compacted gravel. The only vehicular traffic allowed is tour buses, shuttle buses, vendor and contractor vehicles. Autos and RVs need permits to travel to specific campgrounds and nowhere else. Consequently, with only buses on the road, it remains a true wilderness experience.
The views were incredible, awesome and spectacular. The park is nothing like I expected. The photos I took don't begin to do it justice.
About 20 miles into the park, we stopped to view some caribou. When we were ready to move on, the bus wouldn't start. The driver called in the problem and was given instructions on what to try to start it, but he wasn't able to get it started. So we waited will they rounded up a driver (a mechanic) to bring us a new bus so that we could continue our tour. We lost about 2 hours waiting for the new bus.
We continued the tour, climbing 700 ft above the valley floor on a road cut into the side of hills, through avalanche fields and on into the next valley. The views were unbelievable. The valley was created by glaciers eons ago. The river created by all the glaciers melting is widely dispersed as it flows. This late in the season, there is only a small portion of the river bed under water. But the riverbed is miles wide, representing the snow melt flow in the springtime.
Along the way, we saw ginger, blond and brown colored grizzlies and cubs, caribou, snowshoe hares, ground squirrels and Dall sheep. It was interesting to know that there are no fish in the parks lakes or rivers and therefore there are no bald eagles or fish eating bears in the park. There are golden eagles, however, and we saw a few of them.
We finally returned to the RV Park around 5:45 PM. Our dinner reservations had been shifted to accommodate our late return. I had just enough time to walk Socks and change for the shuttle ride into town for the meal. We ate at a "Salmon Bake" restaurant that was very crowded. Our meal consisted of a block of salmon, a block of Halibut, a slice of Bison, mashed potatoes and veggies. It was all good, but I couldn't eat it all.
After dinner, I walked next door to pick up some ball caps and t-shirts from the area. I then took the restaurant shuttle back to the RV Park, walked Socks and headed for bed.
We head for Fairbanks tomorrow.