Alaska: Day Thirteen, 07/12/2008 – Denali National Park

Photos: Alaska Land Tour
Photos: Alaska Cruise

So. We have lots to catch up on here.

Day Thirteen of this trip found us waking up ridiculously early to get on a tour bus at 6:30AM. Yeah. You read that right.

View from Polychrome Mountain

It was about a 6-hour bus tour on the one road in Denali National Park. Our driver was an employee of the National Parks service. Private vehicles aren’t allowed very far into the park, a move which I think was a good idea. It seems like in Alaska, they have this whole “wilderness preservation” idea figured out pretty well.

Denali riverbed

However, sitting on a moving bus for 6 hours is not very conducive to photos. The driver was pretty good about stopping the bus when someone spotted some wildlife, though. I just didn’t have enough of a lens to capture most of it.


Like the three grizzly bears we saw way off in the distance. Basically, they looked like little moving specks. Still awesome to see though.

We also saw a whole bunch of caribou, a few moose, lotsa snowshoe hares, some golden eagles, and tons of ptarmigans.

Caribou in snow patch

And oh yeah, Mt. McKinley. From 35 miles away, which only happens 40% of the time (damn cloud cover). And also from 70 miles away, which only happens about 5% of the time. We were pretty damn lucky with weather for the whole trip – although all of us were too superstitious to say anything about it until the trip was over.

Mt. McKinley

After the bus tour, we headed over to the Visitor’s Center, where they had some neat displays set up. My mom and I decided to do a little hike and then walk back to the hotel, much to my Dad’s chagrin. But we found a really cool river, got to see the underside of the Alaska Railroad train trestle (I think I have an unhealthy obsession with trains these days), and I even found some moose (or maybe caribou) tracks by the water.

Stream in Denali

Train Trestle

High key train trestle