A day in Denali National Park

Posted On 08/02/2011 17:22:19 by HolidayCruises
Alaska Land & Sea 2011
Dall Sheep against the blue sky
Of all the National Parks in the USA, Alaska has the five largest including Denali National Park - one that is somewhat larger than the state of Massachusetts.  This morning we divided into two groups - those that wanted high adventure and those wanting a more sedate morning.  One of those wanting high adventure was our niece, Angie, so I asked her to be a guest blogger today.

"Hi!  This is Angie, Phil's niece from Pennsylvania.  He asked me to guest blog about our exciting Alaskan adventure today.  So here we go...

This morning we got up a bit early to head out for some off road adventure.  We had heard about an all terrain vehicle (ATV) guided tour in the Alaskan wilderness of Denali Park.  My husband, Josh, my brother, Matt, and myself all thought that sounded exciting and we were in!

ATVs ready to roll

the ATV gang - Matt, Josh and Angie
 Once we got there we were outfitted with very awesome looking helmets and either could wear our sunglasses or get goggles.  There were 5 single drivers (of which we were 3 of them) and 6 side-by-side quads.  They explained how to use the ATV's, which thankfully were ridiculously easy.  Then, we were on our way!

After our last stop, we rode back to the company's base and unloaded.  We were out on the ATV's for almost 2 hours and had a fantastic time!  This was my first time on an ATV but I certainly hope not the last!"
Some of the vastness of the park, with Mt. McKinley in the distance

Thanks Angie.  I appreciate the blog.

Do you like the guard rails on this road
 This afternoon, we journeyed deep into the park.There is only one road into the park.  It runs 90 miles in and dead ends.  Anyone can drive in the first 12 miles, but then you come to the park service roadblock.  The only way to proceed from here is taking one of the park service wildlife tours.  The road from mile 12 to mile 90 is gravel and gets progressively higher and more precarious.
There were three goals for this 8-hour tour.  One, the beauty of the mountains, the valley, the streams, the rocks, the flowers, the...oh, you get the picture.  Two, we have the chance to see Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.  And three, we are looking for all the wildlife that the park has to offer.  On this trip we saw Ground Squirrels, Willow Ptarmigan, Snowshoe Hare, Fox, Lynx, Grizzly Bears, Moose, Caribou, Dall Sheep, and even a sled dog out for a walk.  On one occasion, our bus rounded a curve and right in front of us and headed in our direction was a big Caribou.  Our driver hit the brakes and so did the Caribou.  For a second he just looked at us.  Then he lowered that big rake-full of antlers and headed for us in a full-on charge.  But at the last second he veered off to the right and headed down the meadow.  He was beautiful to watch as he loped through the grasses and low brush of the fields along the road.

A Caribou that almost charged our bus

A Fox in Denali

As you can see, some of the wildlife gets close-up
A little while later we came across a small herd of Dall Sheep, again in the middle of the road.  Our guide explained that the animals in the park were not stupid, they often find it much easier to trot down the road then work their way through the brush.  This herd of sheep was in no hurry, so we sat for 10 or 15 minutes watching them lock horns and play.

We arrived back at our hotel about 10 pm and enjoyed some dinner and fine conversation before crashing for the night.  So it was a busy day and a great day in Denali Park.

See you tomorrow.

The Swartz gang overlooking Denali Park

Tags: Denali National Park Alaska Phil Swartz Holiday Cruises And Tours

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