Sunday, June 19, 2016

Denali National Park and Preserve, June 13 - 16, 2016, Days 44 – 47

At last, the native name for this spectacular mountain has been restored.  Denali, Athabascan for “the high one” was named Mount McKinley in the late 19th century by William Dickey, a gold prospector, who admired President-elect McKinley.  Although McKinley had no connection with the mountain, the name was popularized after his assassination in 1901.
 “The Indians who lived for countless generations in the presence of these colossal mountains have given them names that are both euphonious and appropriate…Can it be denied that the names they gave to the most imposing features of their country should be preserved?” Sheldon, The Wilderness of Denali
South view of Denali

No sooner do we come to the conclusion that we have observed nature at the pinnacle of its beauty then we are yet again astonished.  Denali knocked us back on our heels!  We arrived at Denali amid inclement weather and the surrounding mountains were concealed from view.  The scenery we could see from our RV was beautiful enough.  The silty Nenana River had transformed into a translucent boiling caldron as we approached Denali National Park and the gorge took near vertical drops as it merged with the river below.
Our home 29 miles inside Denali Nat. Park
Arriving at the junctions between Denali National Park and Parks Highway was a shock.  Commercialism at its worst!  Not to worry as we traipsed through this, dropped off our dinghy, and proceeded into the park where we had reservations at Teklanika River Campground situated 29 miles inside the park.  A minimum stay of three days is required and only vehicles with reservations are allowed this far into the park all in an effort to minimize traffic and maintain as pristine environment as possible.  There are shuttle buses that, for a reasonable one-time fee, carry visitors another 60 miles beyond Teklanika River Campground in order to observe game, hike in the wilderness, or even bicycle (most buses have bicycle racks).  On day one inside the park, clouds obscured visibility but plenty of game was observed.  On day two and three the skies opened in all their glory with the entire Alaska Range was within view.  Mt. Denali was clearly visible from all angles and there was not a cloud in the sky.  This, I’m told, is most unusual and a rare gift.  Taking the bus to Wonder Lake, approximately 90 miles inside the park, we were treated to bear, caribou, moose, and Dall sheep sightings.  Wolves, wolverines, and lynx are residents as well but it takes more luck than we possessed to see them in this, their natural setting.
Denali from the North Side

Without a doubt, Denali National Park and Preserve with its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and truly wild habitat have marked this as one of the major highlights of our trip so far.  I will let the pictures display the wonders of this area as I’m at a loss for words to adequately convey the wonder of this pristine setting.

When Denali hides in the clouds
Road into Teklanika Campground

Dall Sheep find safety on the high peaks

Moose abound in Denali Nation Park and Preserve
Bear are everywhere...this one is taking a nap on the hillside
Yet another, looking for something to fill the belly
This guy was CLOSE!!
Spotted a herd of more than 100 caribou within the Park
Caribou have crashed in numbers and studies are ongoing to determine if this is abnormal or a 40 year cycle

Wonder Lake sits 85 miles inside Denali

"We need the tonic of wilderness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us...We can never have enough of nature."  
Henry David Thoreau
Walden:  Or, Life in the Woods


  1. Wow - how lucky you were to see Denali unveiled. Mt. Rainier still knocks my socks off when it is out - I can only imagine how imposing Denali must be. Beautiful!

  2. And not that you need any additional warnings about bear, but this is just in from New Mexico: