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20 March 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound Part 36. Denali National Park, Alaska



Denali National Park Tour.


A huge Moose looked at us at the Denali Visitor Centre entrance. Hello....


Moose at the Entrance of the Park's Visitor Centre
Moose at the Entrance of the Park's Visitor Centre

Bleary-eyed we were here at 5:30 am after getting up at 4:30 am to meet with our morning park tour, scheduled for 6 am..


Still half asleep
Still half asleep
Our Green Bus was waiting
Our Green Bus was waiting

July 30th 2014 became a wonderful and special day.

Early morning along the Savage River, Denali National Park
Early morning along the Savage River, Denali National Park

It was a cool morning. We waited for the rest of the tour group. We had warm clothes, coffee, water and sandwiches along in our backpacks. We had decided to take the no frill "Green" shuttle bus tour to Eielson, about 66 miles ( 106 km ) into the park ( we had reserved and paid the day before, $ 34.50 per person ). 

The "Tan " bus tours were quite a bit more expensive and had a boxed lunch included and were narrated. As we found out later, those buses were of the same quality as the green ones, and their 6am tour had a break-down midway.
 
Driving to Eielson, 66 miles into Denali National Park
Driving to Eielson, 66 miles into Denali National Park

Moose at Breatfast
Moose at Breatfast



Talking about narrated, our tour guide was "Bear". He looked like a bear, but talked non-stop during the entire tour. I don't think we needed more narration. "Bear" did a great job explaining and pointing out the vistas and animals in the park.







He was also a very good driver, a necessity, because further into the park the road became very narrow and dangerous. We were glad no private cars were allowed further in than Savage River ( to Mile 15 ).


Wonderful Mountains
Wow

An incredible park
Wow, Wow...

Denali National Park and Preserve was established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park. In 1980 it was renamed to Denali. It is about 250 miles ( 400 km ) south of the Arctic Circle. 

The park is huge, about 6 million acres ( almost 25,000 sq. km), and most visitors only see a fraction of the park. Only about 30 percent of all visitors actually have a chance to see "the mountain". 


Denali ( formerly Mount McKinley )
Denali ( formerly Mount McKinley )

Denali, the Great One, 20,320 ft. or 6,193 m
Denali, the Great One, 20,320 ft. or 6,193 m

Today, for us the weather-goddess was in a fantastic mood. Not only did we have sparkling weather, we were also among the very few tourists to see Denali without a fog cap ( only about 10% have that opportunity! ). We marvelled at Denali all day in brilliant sunshine. 


Caribou crossing the road
The Paparazzi of the Green Bus
The Paparazzi of the Green Bus


Caribou resting
Caribou

Yes, we were lucky, but it also pays off to check the weather ahead of time carefully. Yesterday it rained all day, and as we found out later, the same tour the day after was marred with fog and rain so thick, nobody could see the mountain.


Hansuli and Liz having lunch at Eielson
Lunch at Eielson

Anders and Liz, Denali in the backdrop.
Anders and Liz

Our green bus with "Bear" on the wheel and microphone drove slowly along the park road. We stopped from time to time to marvel at the vistas. 

Mountain landscape


"Bear" drives carefully along the Park Road
"Bear" drives carefully along the Park Road

We did spot animals. Often they were far away. Do not expect them to be close and cuddly, Denali is a wilderness park not a zoo. Moose, Dall Sheep, Caribou, Golden Eagles, various birds, Mountain Squirrels, and a mama Grizzly ( Brown Bear ) with her two cubs, were all part of our enjoyment.


Mama Grizzly ( Brown Bear ) with her two Cubs
Mama Grizzly ( Brown Bear ) with her two Cubs

A Caribou running in the creek to get rid of some pesky Bugs
A Caribou running in the creek to get rid of some pesky Bugs


Very tired, but happy we all returned back to our campsite at Denali RV Park and Motel.


Lisbeth and Hansuli
Lisbeth and Hansuli

Anders and Christian
Anders and Christian

 A tour in Denali National Park is an absolute must if you visit Alaska. Hopefully one should spend a few days in the park, hiking, cycling and touring. To camp right in the park, and specially at Riley Creek which is car accessible, one should reserve way ahead of time!


Mount Denali at its best, wonderful landscape

More pictures here.

>>>NEXT>>> post in this series.

Here are some shortcuts to all the blogs post from our Yukon and Alaska Trip. Just hover over the number to see where it will take you.

  1,    2,    3,    4,    5,    6,    7,    8,    9,  10

11,  12,  13,  14,  15,  16,  17,  18,  19,  20

21,  22,  23,  24,  25,  26,  27,  28,  29,  30

31,  32,  33,  34,  35,  36, 37,  38,  39,  40

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