Labor Day Weekend in Denali National Park

There are so many amazing photos to share in this post, so I’m going to get all of my typing over with, and put them in order at the end (feel free to scroll down!).  Enjoy!

Before coming to Alaska, we had received advice from countless friends and family, regarding what we should do and see during our stay.  Denali, AKA Mount McKinley, was at the top of the list.  To our surprise, we learned that most of the park is closed after September 15.  Having arrived at the end of August, our opportunities to camp there were limited.

Upon recommendation of an experienced camper, we wanted to stay at the Teklanika (Tek) River Campground, which is 29 miles into the park, and the farthest campground to which private vehicles are allowed to drive.  To preserve the park and decrease the risk to wildlife, Tek campers are allowed only one trip on the road, to the campground when arriving, and to the exit after a minimum of three days’ camping.  Given the three-day requirement, the calendar was entirely booked, except for Labor Day weekend.

Being a Tek camper comes with the added bonus of eligibility for a Tek Pass, a greatly-discounted pass to ride the bus during our entire stay, to and from the campground.  So it goes, two days after our arrival in Alaska, we camped in Denali National Park for a whole weekend.  After stopping by the main store for check in, firewood purchase, and the last running water we would see for three days, we set out for Tek.

What a memorable experience!  The fall colors were at their peak, we had mostly rain-free days, with mild (read: mid-40’s) weather.  We rode the bus to Wonder Lake on our first full day, and hiked and mountain biked (on the roads; no off-road riding is allowed) after that.  We saw fox, moose, bears, a wolf, sheep and varmints, but not Mount McKinley (it’s only visible about 60 days per year).  Behold: Denali, in all its splendor…

01

Eric Newman, Firestarter Extraordinaire.

02

The riverbed a few yards behind our campground.

03

Foxy lady.

04

Next morning: we boarded a bus promptly at 7 a.m., and so the gorgeous views begin…

05

06

07

We saw a wolf in a riverbed similar to this one. He was too far away to get a picture.

08

A picture of Eric snapping a pic at a rest stop.

09

10

Bull moose!

11

12

13

We got off the bus at Wonder Lake and hiked this trail with a cool Asian chick from New York. It took about an hour, moving at a quick pace…we had to hurry back, in order to catch another bus back to our campground before the last one left.

14

The next series of pictures was taken along the trail we hiked.

15

16

17

18

19

20

Cute!

21

22

Bear scat! The grizzlies here eat a diet of about 85% vegetation – at this time of year, that means about 30,000 calories’ worth of blueberries per day, as you can easily see here.

23

201

Yummo!

202

Marshy tundra.

203

204

205

206

Don’t forget the low-brush cranberries: also delightful!

207

208

209

210

211

Made it back in time to catch a bus! Phew!

212

213

214

Our first grizzly bear sighting…

215

The grizz from a distance.

301

…followed promptly by our second sighting. Look at that sucker!

302

303

304

Nomming on blueberries.

305

306 307

308

Don’t worry, we were safely on the bus this whole time – absolute silence came upon us all, as we watched in awe.

309

310

311

312

313

314

We watched this guy for about ten minutes, then left him, so that other buses could have our prime viewing spot. So long, handsome fellow!

401

Dall Sheep at rest.

402

403

A pika!  This is the last picture taken from the bus.  The remainder were taken on hikes or from the car, as we exited the park.

404

Cooking a gourmet meal in the rain.

405

406

407

408

409

410

We decided this must be a seismograph.

411

412

413

414

501

A close-up view of the tundra.

502

The boreal forest floor.

503

504

505

506

507

508

509

Bye-bye!

Comments
2 Responses to “Labor Day Weekend in Denali National Park”
  1. maryanne@loehrfamily.com says:

    What a totally awesome experience!!!  The most beautiful pictures of Denali I have ever seen!!!!!! So glad you had this wonderful experience :)))))    

  2. Thanks, Mary Anne! The colors were STUNNING!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: