Monday, August 11, 2014

Alaska and the Yukon - Denali National Park Day 1

July 16
Denali National Park Day 1

Denali National Park is a designated wilderness area so the only vehicles allowed are park shuttles and park tour buses.  That means anyone wanting to see the park has to take a shuttle or tour bus and the first tours start running at 5:00 AM.  Our tour was scheduled to leave at 6:30 which seemed pretty early to us, but the couple we were with on the photo tour last night had theirs scheduled for 5:30.

Val and I were up at 5:00 AM (way too early for us) and went to pick up our box lunches and meet our group around 6:00.  Tours leave every ten minutes and they start at 5:00 AM so I guess it could have been worse. 

We didn't know what to expect from this tour, but it turned out to be really interesting.  It was still cloudy and pretty cool when we left so we knew we wouldn't be seeing Denali, but at least it wasn't raining.  Our tour guide / bus driver was very knowledgeable and kept up a running commentary as we drove through the park.  Besides the beautiful scenery we saw grizzly bears, a wolf, foxes, caribou, dall sheep and moose, very exciting especially the bears.  Seeing those animals is considered the "Denali Grand Slam" so we were fortunate even if we didn't get to see Denali itself.  We didn't drive to the end of the road, another 12 miles, but we did journey sixty-two miles into the park.  We arrived back at the hotel just before 2:00 PM so we had almost an eight hour trip.  When we returned, Val said that after this trip, she didn't want to be on a bus for a while and I have to agree. 

Pictures are much better than words so here are some of the highlights of our trip.  Keep in mind than many of the pictures were shot through the bus windows so the quality varies.

Loading up the bus early in the morning.

Those small white dots with legs are dall sheep.

The tour buses stack up at the various spots, but spread out on the road.

A moose.


We were told seeing a wolf is not very common so we were lucky.

A grizzly bear.

More caribou.

Another grizzly bear.

A fox, the last animal sighting of the day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and downloading our pictures.  We had dinner in the lodge and then called it a night as we were both tired after getting up at 5:00 AM.  Tomorrow will be an easier day as we don't have anything planned until 1:30 when we take a rafting trip

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