Denali, 6 million acres of spectacular wilderness including Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America with an elevation of 20,320 feet. Amazing. Summers in Denali are often overcast or rainy, allowing summertime visitors only about a 30 to 40 percent chance of seeing Mt. McKinley and our visit was just that–cloudy and rainy.
We had a three-night stay at Riley Creek Campground, just inside the entrance to the park.
There is only one road in the Denali park and you are not allowed to drive your own vehicle in there beyond Mile 15. Busses take you the rest of the way. There are a variety of bus tours depending on if you want a narrated tour, or just a shuttle, and how far you want to go into the park. We decided on a shuttle bus to the very end, which is a 12 hour round trip. And it rained half the time but it was an awesome experience anyway.
We finally made it to Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66 on the Park Road. This is supposed to be an excellent viewpoint for Mount McKinley, but the snow-covered mountain was hiding in the clouds.
At one point our bus driver stopped the bus and let us get out and walk on the tundra. It was several inches of soft moss, kinda bouncy walking.
We saw some wildlife along the way, including caribou, moose, and sheep. All too far away to show up in a photo with my camera. But there was a Grizzly!
But the BEST part was another Grizzly mama and her cubs. While we were watching them she sat down, leaned back, and began nursing her babies!! The bus stopped and we were all amazed at what we were able to witness here. I definitely need a new camera with a good zoom.
One more picture.
That was one day. The next morning we drove our own vehicle to the 15-mile point, had a picnic lunch and a 2 mile hike.
We would have liked to stay longer but we had to surrender our campsite as it was booked for the weekend. And the weather forecast didn’t look any better anyway. In the morning we left Denali National Park and drove down the Parks Highway towards Anchorage. It rained a while but then let up and remained cloudy for the next 100 miles. I’m sure we missed some good stuff.
Denali State Park, about 100 miles south of Denali National Park offered us one last chance to see Mount McKinley at a scenic overlook. At least there was a picture there so we know what we would have seen.
So here we are tonight, camped at Trapper Creek Campground, half way to Anchorage.
By the way, we had to stop for gas on out way out of Denali and had to pay $5.03 per gallon. But now the prices have settled down to $4.02 per gallon.