Sunday we started bright and early, ate at the lodge and then drove to the bus depot at Denali National Park (just inside the entrance). We had reservations for the 7am shuttle bus. Which I had of course gotten wrong in my head, so we got there for the 7:30 bus instead. Fortunately there were plenty of seats on that one, so we didn’t have to wait for a later bus to have room. And we had a great driver, so it worked out well! We were expecting frigid temperatures and cloudy skies from the weather reports I had seen in advance. Instead we got partly sunny and bearable cold, a very pleasant surprise!
Denali is well worth the visit, so very worth it. I’m going to give you a photo dump, some photos will have captions. Brace yourself!
This was our first view of Denali itself (Mt McKinley until recently). It is the bright white mountain in the middle, looking smaller than the other from this view. Because we were very far away. The road into the park (the only road) runs through a valley. To the south is the Alaska mountain range, to the north is the Outer Range.
Over the course of the day we saw a lot of animal, mostly too far away for a good picture. Some, though were very close! Here is a ground squirrel and a ptarmigan:
Here’s a better view of Denali:
And us with Denali behind us:
And one of several caribou we saw that day (all too far away for a good phone photo):
Us, our bus
Dall sheep (again far away, look for the horns on top of the hill)
Denali again and an panorama of one view of the range
The closest we got to grizzly bears! We saw several from a distance, but these were on the side of the road about 10 feet from the bus. A mother and her yearling cub, they are digging for roots.
The cub is standing up to get a better of the bus passing us, and them.
After the bus tour we hiked trail to Horseshoe Lake, a pretty easy hike near the entrance of the park. There are several beaver dams:
A different view of the Nenana River and the resorts on its’ banks:
Better view of the lake (we saw a beaver earlier but didn’t get a good picture):
Such a great day! The next day we got some good wildlife views on the drive back to Anchorage, so that’ll be its own post also.