Ed and Marilyn, summer trip 2005 travel blog

Caribou in Denali Nat'l Park


Tuesday Aug. 9 at Denali National Park.

A wonderful day! If we had chosen a nicer day weather wise, we couldn't have planned it better! Cool to begin the morning, as we were up early, and at Denali , just up the street a few miles from our campground. Sunny all day, warming up to the 70's, and best of all the "she was out". This is what folks around here say when they hear that Mt. McKinley is visible. Most of the time it is obscured by clouds or haze. It couldn't have been more beautiful! We can't believe our luck as most people never see the peak, and we did equally as well when we came here in 1987.

For those of you who don't know about Denali National Park, it is a majestic park in the interior of Alaska, consisting of 2 million + acres. The interior of Denali is accessed by a 90 mile road. The first 15 mile section is paved and open to private vehicles. the remainder open to the buses and for a few other exceptions. There is a parking lot at Savage River and trails leading from there. The river there is beautiful. Mt. McKinley is a snow covered beauty, 20, 320 feet high. Shuttle buses are used to take people in the park, so as not to disturb wildlife. Also, the roads could not be maintained with the large number of people driving on them constantly. You can ride out to the end of the road or you can elect to get off at some point along the road, spend some time hiking and return on another bus. We were able to get on the 8:30 bus and rode in it for 8 hours. The driver stops when we see wildlife, and for photos of exceptional views, and of course Mt. McKinley. The employees are extremely strict about respecting the wildlife, and giving them their space. We would of course, all like to drive our own vehicle, but it is important that this not be allowed.

Our wildlife viewing was fabulous! First a bull moose was visible on the side of the road. But even better sightings were to come. We ended up seeing 9 grizzly bears during the day, two different single bears and a sow with two cubs and another sow with triplets! Some were "up close and personal". What photos we should have if all went well. Ed's videos came out excellent as we were able to view them right after taking them as well as those on the digital camera. We brought film to be developed tonight so hopefully we have close-ups of the critters and the mountain. We also watched magnificent caribou, all bulls with large antlers. Even without the wildlife, it would have been a wonderful trip, but we did have a wonderful sighting of many mammals, and birds, including 2 golden eagles. The ptarmigans were quite numerous, even along side the dirt roads, as they were dusting themselves. The bald eagle does not frequent Denali as there are no salmon running in the many streams and rivers in the park for them to feed on.

We were planning on going out again on foot tonight, but after settling in at a campground here in the park, and making dinner (celery with blue cheese filling, American chop suey, biscuits, and spinach salad), we were tired and happy to stay right here. It is a "dry campground" so we appreciated our camper showers and stoves. There are many tent campers here and serious hikers who are allowed to hike into the back country in many areas.



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