Dan & Dee's Travels travel blog

 

Pretty Picture

A creek in Denali National forest

that light spot is a grizzly

 

 

 

just a little windy and cold

Dall Sheep

that light spot is a grizzly

Dall Sheep

the first view of the top of Denali

 

The Great Gorge of Ruth Glacier

Great Gorge of Ruth Glacier

 

Horseback riding in Denali State Park

Denali

Mt McKinley


Wednesday 6/23 – We visited Denali National Park. It was a bright clear sunshiny day so we were hopeful about seeing “the” mountain. Denali, aka Mt McKinley, is the highest peak in North America at 20,320 ft. Only about 20% of the people that visit this area can see it because it tends to block the clouds from moving east and therefore shrouds itself in those clouds. You can only drive your car to mile 15. If you want to go further into the park, you can walk, bike, or take a bus. There are several options of buses. We chose to take the “shuttle” bus which allows you to get on and off whenever you want. So there were many folk that wanted to hike or spend more time in an area that shouted “stop” than got off the bus and there were other folk that waved at the bus from the roadside so they could join our bus ride. Dan and I chose the 6 hour option which was the shortest because we hoped to get off and do some hiking. Our trip took us 53 miles into the park. The other options were 66 miles/8 hrs, 85 miles /11 hrs, or 90 miles /12 hrs. We planned on staying on the bus until the turn-around point then pick our spot to get off. We were surprised that the weather changed drastically as we passed over the mountains into the park. It was really cold and drizzly and we knew there was no chance of seeing “the” mountain today. We didn't have the gear to hike in the drizzle so we stayed on the bus. The weather changed back to the warm clear sunshine after we passed back within the 15 mile personal vehicle zone. We decided to save the hiking for another day. We didn't get the chance to get out and trek through the Park but we did see some awesome views and some cool wildlife. We saw two grizzly's, lots of caribou, dall sheep, and eagles. We didn't see any moose or wolves. Tomorrow we go horseback riding through the Denali State Park just a few miles south of here. Hopefully, the mountain will come out of the clouds tomorrow.

The link to the pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/dianejmorris/Denali?feat=directlink

Thursday – We moved approximately 100 miles down the road to the South View Point campground. This is a state park campground so we do not have any hookups but we have a great view of the mountain. When we arrived, it was shrouded in clouds. We ate lunch then walked around the grounds for about 30 minutes. We went back to the view point and,WOW, the top of the mountain was protruding above the clouds. It was a magnificent site. We came back to the view point about every 30 minutes or so to see the changes in the cloud cover. We were rewarded with many great views. We never got an unrestricted view of the entire mountain but we still got many great views.

We stayed at this campground because it was 2 miles from the stables where we planned on going horseback riding. I had called several days before and made a reservation. Then called back to confirm. Our first problem occurred in trying to find the place. In Alaska, there are not street addresses like we have in the lower 48. They use mile markers to indicate their location. When I made the reservation, the man said they were located at mile marker 133. He also said there would be a large wooden cut-out of a horse near the entrance. We headed down the road but never saw the horse. After passing mile marker 130, we turned around. There was only one road intersecting our route between mile marker 133 and 134 so we turned. We followed this road about a quarter of a mile and finally saw the wooden cut-out of a horse with an arrow pointing left. We made that left onto a dirt road. The road split and we stayed right, the road split again and we stayed left, then the road split again and we gave up. We turned around and went back to the main road and there was a person on a horse drawn wagon. We asked them for directions and they said “just follow that road”. We said, we tried that but it keeps intersecting. Then a van full of people turned on that road and the folks on the wagon said to just follow the van. We headed back up the dirt road following the van and finally came to the stables. These folks, not only had poor signs to the place, but were also really unorganized. There is a resort close by that books most of their tours and they don't have a great method to keep track of individual bookings. So they had 1 more rider than they had horses. The group that arrived had a lot of children with them. Dan and I were not thrilled with the prospects of riding with this group. They gave us the option of coming back later in the day and going out with just us and the guide, or coming back the next day. Since we planned on moving down the road the next day, we chose to come back later in the day. We had a great ride through the Denali State Park for a little over 1.5 hrs.



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