By now you guys are well aware of my fickle heart – constantly cheating on my last love when I fall for a new place we visit, and Denali is no exception!
View from the Denali Lodge.
My new favorite road sign! #onlyinAlaska
We’ve spent the last week in and around Denali, deep in the park (I’m talking 85 miles deep!), as well as hanging out in town, driving the Denali highway, white water rafting the Nenana River, and of course frequenting the 49th State Brewery (surprise!).
Our favorite camping spot near the brewery. Where park buses are left with keys inside! Dangerous…
Igloo Creek campground view. #doesn’tsuck
Denali National Park is definitely unique. Access is VERY restricted – much more than any other national park we’ve been to. You can drive as far as 15 miles into the 92-mile Park Road, and after that everything is restricted to protect both the environment and the wildlife. Having experienced the full road, it’s so smart they keep idiot drivers like us off it – it has some very treacherous parts! But the views are seriously spectacular…
Dorks in matching pants (yep, that’s us), but who cares with that view!
Hiking Denali. #awesome
Explorers. This is the best place to get lost!
Denali Highway – we were fortunate that we had some flexibility in our dates in Denali. When we first arrived, there were 300+ fires burning across the state (100+ started by lightening strikes!), so the air was smokey with 0% chance of seeing McKinley, so we decided to take a few days and drive the scenic 134-mile Denali Highway, which used to be the entrance to the park before the Park Road was constructed. It’s beautiful! We saw fox, porcupine, moose, and bald eagles along the way and camped in some very cool off-shoot roads. It’s one of the best places to see the Northern Lights – if only it weren’t light 22 hours/day right now!
The one & only bar along the Denali Highway – we found it! Sluice Box is a gold mining term.
Look what we found – moose on the loose!
Views, views, views – man this state has views everywhere!
Lucky strikes…we got lucky in Denali in oh so many ways!
- Campground – score! There are no lodges or hotels along the 92-mile Park Road. To stay “in” Denali National Park, you have to camp, and most sites book 6+ mos in advance. There’s even a lottery system! We had no expectation of experiencing that, but we somehow scored 3 nights in the park in our 2 coveted campgrounds: Wonder Lake and Igloo Creek. Wonder Lake is at Mile 85 (a 6 hr bus ride!) – almost the very end of the park road, with panoramic views of Mt McKinley (when it chooses to show itself). It was spectacular!
Love love love Wonder Lake campground!
Reflection pond. If the weather were better that day, you would see McKinley in the pond!
Here’s our new postcard. LOL
- Mt. McKinley exposed! They say in the literature that people have a 95% chance of seeing a grizzly in Denali but only a 35% chance of seeing Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America. It creates its own weather system. We had a rare moment our first night in Wonder Lake when, after a hard rain storm, the mountain and the whole range exposed itself in full, wondrous beauty. Photos can’t do it justice. It’s breathtaking!
Mt. McKinley – words cannot express how magnificent it is!
Wonder Lake campground – see Mt McKinley right in front of us!
- No man-eating bugs! Both campgrounds we stayed in are notorious for horrid mosquito infestations in the summer. One guy in Wonder Lake has stayed there 13 times and said this was his first time without at least 20 mosquitos in his morning coffee. It’s been a dry and cool spring, so the bug populations are low. We’ve had no problems at all, and we are oh so grateful. Thank you God!
So we did get rain at Igloo Creek, but we had wine & a tarp. Saved!
It’s boxed wine…but it works in a pinch!
Lesson learned: don’t pre-book excursions in Alaska. The weather is very unpredictable and changes quickly! I’m so thankful today wasn’t our only day in the park – it’s a total washout. That being said, I’m super excited about our flight-seeing tour of Denali with Julie, Jen & Caroline out of Talkeetna in just a week. Safe travels girls – I’ve worked out a weather schedule with Mother Nature, so we’re all good! 🙂
The BAMF likes it here too…
I do have to admit, my wishlist for Denali sightings was a wolf, a lynx, and a wolverine, all of which live in the park. Sadly we didn’t see any of those (the park is millions of acres!), but we did see lots of grizzlies, moose, and caribou. And of course the beautiful Mt. McKinley!
Crazy like a fox. How cute is this guy?
P.S. Today is our official 3-month anniversary for this crazy trip. We’re actually half way through! Time flies when you’re having fun… 🙂
Martin’s favorite photo. It’s heat meiser & she meiser!