Hello family and friends!
We hope this post finds you well and happy! For those suffering, we continue to keep you in our prayers. Please stay strong!
As mentioned in our last post, after leaving Fairbanks, we next traveled to Denali National Park and Preserve. We had reservations for five days at the Denali Rainbow Village RV Park conveniently located just outside of the Park. The sites were very tight and pricey but being near the park, groceries, and a few restaurants made it worth the cost. (i.e., One regular load of laundry was $5 which, to date, is the highest we have paid for doing our laundry anywhere in the US or Canada.)
We first hiked the Horseshoe Lake trail which is an easy/moderate Loop providing some brilliant photo opportunities. We saw birds, beavers, beaver lodges, and dams. Although we didn’t see any large wildlife we did see moose prints as we walked along the lake.
Kenny, Susan, and Mark had their hearts set on flightseeing around Denali which is the tallest mountain peak in North America. I abstained simply because I had no desire to 🤮 all over my friends. Great decision on my part as the ride was a bit bumpy.
According to the pilot, only 10% of those flightseeing actually view Denali. They were in the 10%! It was a crystal clear day without cloud coverage. All were amazed, inspired, and awed by the beauty of Denali and the National Park. It was so clear that they were able to see the base camp from which about 20 mountaineers were starting their attempt to reach the top of Denali. For individuals wishing to take on the challenge, there is only a small window of time to complete the climb. The average expedition is three to four weeks. Last year approximately half of those who attempted the climb failed.
The following day, we had signed up for a Tundra Tour which was a half day trip on the tundra following the same path that Christopher Johnson McCandle took when he went to live in the wilderness. You may recall the book written about him, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. Our tour was just okay. Most of the time we were dodging branches that whipped back at us as the six wheeler plowed through some overgrowth on either side of the vehicle. For those visiting Denali, we suggest that you spend your money on a nice dinner or anything else. But if the trip takes you to Christopher McCandle’s Magic Bus, (river has to be dry or really low), that would be extremely cool.
One afternoon, we spent at the Denali Sled Dog Kennels. The Kennels hold three presentations per day and the park shuttle bus can pick you up at the Denali Visitors Center. Led by the Ranger, there was a presentation of the training of the dogs, their different personalities, how the dogs get harnessed, and a live presentation of the dogs pulling. It was free, fun, and entertaining. During the coldest winter months, the Rangers utilize the dog teams to patrol the Park as well as to bring equipment and supplies to scientists located in remote areas.
The highlight of our time in Denali was a full day bus trip to Eielson Visitor Center which is on the Green Transit Bus. It is $40 round trip and you bring your own lunch, snacks, and drinks. The driver stops anytime someone spots wildlife to allow the passengers to take pictures and periodically stops for use of the rest room facilities.
Although a rainy day, we took part in the Ranger Walk. We followed a small trail which was close to the Visitors Center and the Ranger spoke to us about wildlife, wildflowers, bushes, sights of wildlife activity, and even scat! The walk was interesting and informative.
The center also showed several films. The day we visited three different films were shown. All were professionally produced and focused on Park safety. They addressed how to prepare for chance encounters with wildlife in the park and backpacking safety in Denali. There is a high chance of encountering wildlife anywhere at any time in the Park and safety precautions are certainly needed.
On the day long trip we saw Moose, Caribou, Bear, Elk, and Dahl Sheep. If in Denali, we strongly suggest you take this tour. With the spectacular views and the abundance of wildlife sightings, this is a trip we will forever remember.
Next stop – Anchorage! Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. – Edward Abbey