Denali National Park and Preserve

We're a little behind this week, but, in keeping with Mark's example, I'll close out my Alaska trip.   While we were enroute from Fairbanks to Anchorage, we planned a trip to Denali National Park and Preserve.  I highly recommend this stop if you visit our largest state.  It is a beautiful area and a relaxing day trip.  I debated renting a lens to take with me - I don't usually shoot wildlife shots and under-estimated the necessity.  I won't make that mistake again.  Bring your LONG lens. We stayed in a nice hotel, with all the modern amenities.  The buses you see are your transportation within the park.  You should book early because it gets very busy.  There are several good restaurants within walking distance.

Mt. McKinley Alaska Denali hotel chalet

The roads inside the park are dirt and very narrow.  If you're a nervous rider, you'll want to close your eyes in several places.  The picture below is from my window, and that river is about 1000 feet down the cliff.  At the time, our bus was waiting for another bus to pass in the other direction, so we had to wait.  Our guide was great.  One rider asked if they had ever "lost a bus on these roads?"  MJ answered immediately: "No, we always find them at the bottom."  ;-) 

Mt. McKinley Alaska Denali river cliff

The drive takes you as close as 35 miles from Mt. McKinley (Denali, to the Inuits and Alaskans).  Clouds usually obscure the view of the summit, and our luck was no better.  I've seen clear views of Denali many times when we lived in Anchorage, but not this time. 

Mt. McKinley Alaska Denali

Most folks go to see the wildlife, and we saw plenty: grizzly bears; caribou; moose; and even a wolf.  Since this is a preserve, the animals are completely wild and unassisted by the rangers, except that hunters are not allowed.  You can see from the photos that I had to crop in to get a semi-reasonable image.  I had my 70-200mm zoom, but I really wish I had rented a longer lens.  I guess I need to go spend some time with Moose Peterson before I go back up there.  

grizzly bear cubs sow Mt. McKinley Alaska Denali

wolf Mt. McKinley Alaska Denali