Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alaska Day 7 - Denali National Park

Denali National Park is around 6 million acres and only one road runs 90 miles into the park to a town called Kantishna. We took the Tundra Wilderness Tour, which ran 54 miles into the park. Below is a map of our route.

Bus Tour Route

Here is the bus that we took on the tour. At almost every stop the bus driver/tour guide would wash all of the windows so we could see out for about two minutes before they got dirty again. The road is gravel because of the permafrost it would be too costly to maintain the road.

Denali Bus Tour 1

We couldn't see Mt. McKinley because it was too foggy, but we did see snow along with a grizzly bear and her cub.

Grizzly Bear and Baby Cub

We were only 30 feet from the bears, luckily we were safely in the bus watching them.

Baby Cub

It was really kind of neat to see how untouched by man this area was. The park service really does a good job of making sure the area is preserved. There are only certain people who can drive personal vehicles on the road and the only way most of the general public can see Denali is by bus or hiking. The willow trees in the lower right hand corner are stripped because this is what the snowshoe hare ate all winter long.

Denali Bus Tour 2

After we got back from the eight hour bus tour, we went back to the entrance area of the park where they had a visitor center and some hiking trails. Here is a moose we saw on the side of the road.

Moose

Here are some pictures from our hike. The weather started to clear up a little, or enough that we could see some mountains in the distance.

Denali Hike

We started back towards Anchorage, the plan was to camp somewhere in between Denali and Anchorage. We decided on the Willow Creek Campground, but before that we stopped at the Mt. McKinley south viewing point and saw Mt. Foraker and maybe a glimpse of Mt. McKinley in the background.

Mt. Foraker

Here is what Mt. McKinley would look like on a clear day from the same spot.

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