I know Jage asked me to tie this into the rest of my report, but I'm going to post it seperately so you don't have to load all those other pictures to get through to these.
Jage, if that really bothers you, go ahead and merge this one in also.
Denali National Park. They really screwed up the naming of this park. The natives always called it Denali. Somebody named the mountain Mt. McKinley after a presidential candidate he supported. The name stuck and was applied to the park as well. Some of the natives wanted the name Denali to be used, so, in its finite wisdom, the government changed the name of the park to Denali. They really should have left the park as McKinley National Park and changed the mountain to Denali - would have made more sense (at least to me). Ok, down off the soapbox and back to business.
We made reservation for the Teklanika campground. You have to drive in 29 miles to this campground. You cannot drive a private vehicle past the 12 mile checkpoint unless you are camping further in, and Teklanika is as far as a private vehicle can go. And when you get to your campsite, you cannot drive around anymore. Past the 12 mile checkpoint, you can only travel by park bus.
We enjoy the buses. They may be crowded at times, but both of us can watch for wildlife and scenery without driving off the 500-1000' cliffs we traveled on. You can hop on and off the bus anywhere. Hike, remote camp, sightsee, take pictures, commune with nature, anything. And no tourists driving by while not watching the road. If you stay at the Teklanika campground (3 day minimum stay) then you can purchase a TEK pass for the buses. This pass gives you unlimited bus use! For the cost of a single trip from the beginning to the end. We rode the buses all 4 days we were there. Just too much to see. One day we saw 15 grizzlies! Moose, caribou, wolves, fox, lynx, squirrels, eagles and more! Ok, I'm ready to return. Oh, there were also some mountains and valleys and rivers to look at.
Driving into the park
Further into the park
The Alaska RR trestle for trains into the park
Indian Head Rock. He is laying on his backside. This is the limit of private travel unless you are camping further in.
Arrived at the campground. 29.1 miles into the park. End of private vehicle travel. 63 more miles to the end of the only road into the park.
First of 4 views from the back of our campsite on the river.
On the bus. The only way to travel into the park. 50 other pairs of eyes to see wildlife, etc.
A Bald Eagle in flight
Same eagle, zoomed in
A good looking grizzly. This one is fairly close.
A red fox.
A young bald eagle. The white accents don't happen until the 3rd year.
Two more moose.
A grizzly and her cub. On the hill above them you can see.....
This wolf. He is guarding a caribou calf's leg. Probably he killed the calf and the grizzly stole most of it from him. They have it down the hill, out of sight.
The next day the mother and cub were still hanging around. Probably because the calf wasn't fully eaten yet.
A couple of caribou.
I hiked up this hill to get a good shot of the Eillson Visitor Center for you. Sure I did. This is the main stop for most visitors - see all the buses. And a really good view of Mt. McKinley.
An all too frequent view of Mt. McKinlely. On average, the mountain is visible 3 days each month during the summer.
Another view of the big mountain. Well, it would be if the skies were clear.
There are other mountains to look at.
500+' down to the valley floor. Or, as the bus driver said "About 10 rolls of the bus"
Sometimes the views are just overwhelming
As we were leaving, the skies cleared and let us see the mountain.
Another view as we exit the park.
South of the park on the way to Anchorage, another side of the mountain.
Here we are about 50 miles from the mountain. It just takes your breath away when you see it clearly.
Stay tuned for the next episode.