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May 23rd
Denali National Park in Alaska PDF Print E-mail
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The best sightseeing I have ever experienced was this year during a recent trip to Denali National Park in Alaska. I could not have hoped for better weather, wildlife viewing opportunities or friends to share it all with. Our accommodations at the Denali Princess Lodge were fantastic as well. This fall I was lucky enough to get a call from my brother, an aspiring photographer. He had just been awarded a Fall Drive In Permit to Denali National Park. They are issued by lottery and allow a limited number of drivers to enter the park by vehicle. There are only four days in the entire year in which you can do this. I was thrilled, excited and eagerly awaiting my adventure of a lifetime.
We enter the Alaska Park around 4:30 am so that we could beat the other drivers and make it to a pass called Polychrome for the sunrise. Polychrome got its name for multitudes of colors displayed throughout its rocky layers. Normally this is quite a site but at sunrise it was absolutely amazing. We were also able to catch a great viewing opportunity of Mount McKinley at sunrise. There were a few people around for this and it truly was a marvelous Alaskan experience.
Next we were able to see some wildlife up close. We came across three brown bears, a mother and two cubs. They were eating berries just off the side of the road. Around the next corner we came across a pack of wolves. They were out hunting and just happened to be heading unknowingly straight towards the brown bears. We had to turn around to watch this incredible encounter and I’m glad we did.
As the wolves approached the brown bears they let their presence be known. They surrounded the bears and consistently went in close then pulled back to a safe distance while trying to drive the bears out of their territory. The mother bear was somewhat concerned because of her cubs. She kept standing up on her hind legs to see over the vegetation and follow what the wolves were up to. This of course led to many great photo opportunities. Finally after about an hour or so the bears moved back and went over the mountain to the next valley.
We continued our trek back into Denali National Park to the very end of the road. Roughly 90 miles back you will find Wonder Lake. Alaska has many beautiful lakes but this one was simply amazing. The water was crystal clear and so calm you could see the reflection of Mount McKinley just as if you were looking into a mirror. We spent some time at the little pullout the park has there and then began our return trip.
On the way back out we saw several moose. This time of year the moose in Alaska are in rut and you will find many Bull Moose ready to compete for the females. We only saw a little confrontation between the moose however we did see several Bull Moose with racks that had to have measured over 60 inches wide. That is quite impressive by all accounts.
We came across several Alaskan Dall sheep, more brown bears, a beaver, spruce hens, a falcon and a plethora of ground squirrels. The fall colors were out, the sky was blue and this was definitely a once in a lifetime trip through Denali National Parks in Alaska. In my opinion, it was well worth the cost of the travel to Alaska.