Sunday, July 2nd 2017 - Denali National Park
Jul 2, 2017
|By 8 am we rolled out of the campground and shortly thereafter we parked in the National Park near the Wilderness Access Center. Today breakfast was quick and simple instead of the traditional American breakfast of ham, eggs and potatoes. We were equipped with sandwiches and water since there was no food available at the destination of our desired excursion in the park -the Eielson Visitor Center, some 66 miles over a gravel road near the end of the facility. I rushed ahead to secure tickets since there was no way we could telephone on the previous day and the recommended method of reservation - on line - was equally moot on account of the lack of internet connection. Just to frustrate us even more the reservations system was in maintenance mode when I rose at 4 am to snatch the 3 tickets. A considerable crowd was assembled already and each of the waiting lines moved agonizingly slow. It is incredible how much most people ask of things that are repeatedly described in the many brochures available to them for reading.
Finally my turn was up and a pleasant young woman explained that there would be no seats available any longer for the rest of the day! What to do ? I asked how about tomorrow ? She searched and found 3 seats on the 11:45 am bus. The tour takes 8 1/2 hours. We decided to take it and change our departure schedule from Denali.
We decided to do a 2 hour walk from the WAC to Horseshoe Lake and past the Denali Railroad station. In the process we visited a beaver dwelling with appurtenant dam and felled trees. An informative film about the beginning of the Denali NP which has it's 100th anniversary this year was offered and enjoyed.
And dinner back in the campground was good! We hoped for better weather on the following day.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park and Preserve was established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park. (The Park celebrates its 100th birthday in 2017, with special events throughout the year.) It was designated a park and preserve— and renamed Denali—in 1980. The mountain was officially renamed Denali in 2015. The Park entrance is 237 highway miles north of Anchorage and 125 miles south of Fairbanks via the Parks Highway.
The Park is open all year, although visitor access varies with the change of seasons. Opening and closing dates for the 92-milelong Park Road are dependent on snow.
The Park Road is open to the public to Mile 30 (Teklanika rest area) from mid-April until the shuttle buses start running in late May. From late May to mid-September, the Visitor Transportation System (comprised
of shuttle buses and tour buses) provides transportation into the Park beyond Mile 14.8. (The first 14.8 miles of the Park Road are open to all vehicles during the summer.)
At approximately 6 million acres, most visitors will see only a fraction of the Park from the 92-mile-long Park Road, (which was constructed between 1923 and 1938. The crown jewel of the Park is Denali (formerly
Mount McKinley), North America’s highest mountain at 20,310 feet.
On a clear day, Denali is visible from Anchorage and many points along the Parks Highway. However, summer’s often overcast or rainy weather frequently obscures the mountain, allowing summertime visitors
only about a 30 to 40 percent chance of seeing “the mountain” even inside the Park.
First mention of “the mountain” was in 1794, when English explorer Capt. George Vancouver spotted “a stupendous snow mountain” from Cook Inlet. Early Russian explorers and traders called the peak
Bolshaia Gora, or “Big Mountain.” The Athabascan Indians of the region called it Denali, “the High One.” In 1896 a prospector, William A. Dickey, named the mountain for presidential nominee William McKinley of Ohio, although McKinley had no connection with Alaska. Protests that the mountain be returned to its original name, Denali, ensued almost at once. But it was not until the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 changed the park’s status and name that the Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the mountain’s name back to Denali.
The first ascent of the true summit of Denali was made in June 1913 by the Rev. Hudson Stuck, Episcopal archdeacon of Yukon, Walter Harper, Harry Karstens (coleader) and Robert Tatum. Harper, an Athabascan,
was the first person to set foot on the higher south peak. Harry Karstens went on to become the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park. "(tMp)"