After our exploration of the Kenai Peninsula we traveled north with our sights set on Denali National Park. Home to North America’s tallest peak, Mt. Denali, this park is on every Alaska tourist’s checklist. Views, mountains, animals…Within our first 10 miles in the park we had to stop for a moose to cross the road.
On our way to Denali we stopped in the cute towns of Trapper Creek and Talkeetna for an overnight. Talkeetna is a common launch location for Denali climbs and flight seeing trips. We tried to get on one of those flight see planes to see the mountain up close, but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate. Instead we hit both sites of the local brewery and got some fun shots around town.
In Denali National Park we were lucky to score a three night stay at the Teklanika campground. This campground is as far into the park as we could get with our RV, at about 29 miles down the Park Road. Being here gave us an intimate look at the landscape and access to the “end of the road,” which is at mile 43.
Normally the Park Road goes on much further, but in 2021 a large portion of the road collapsed under a rock glacier. There is no time estimate on when the road will be repaired. So, we went as far as we could, first on a bus and then by foot, to see the rockslide and the magnificent valley below. Along our two mile walk we watched two grizzly bears traversing the riverbed below. It was quite a show.
They say only about 30% of visitors ever see Mt. Denali. To increase our chances we stayed in the area for a longer time than most. We caught a glimpse of the majestic peak several times during our stay, between cloudy and rainy days. We considered ourselves very lucky!
After a three night stay in Teklanika Campground we ventured out of the park to empty our tanks and re-provision. A night in Healy, Alaska led us to the 49th State Brewery for dinner and a little tasting.
A big attraction here is a replica of the bus that is featured in the book/movie, “Into the Wild.” We both read the book, about a guy who enters the Denali wilderness with little preparation, only to perish. The story is outlined inside the bus with actual photos from the ordeal. If you know the story, this bus is very cool.
Properly refreshed we re-entered the park for another four night stay at the Savage River Campground. Situated along the Savage River, this area has been a tourist camp since the park’s founding. From here we could hike along the river, into the tundra, and up in the hills overlooking the valley.
Almost daily we had wildlife sightings…from caribou to moose to eagles, this area is rich with fauna. We had one rainy day but otherwise were able to get out and really enjoy.
Denali National Park is unique in that they have the only sled dog rangers in the national park system. Established 100 years ago, the Denali sled dogs help human rangers reach the backcountry during the winter. The large kennel is open to the public so we checked it out. Luckily we met the newest five members to the team…five week old puppies that are already in training!
Denali is a special place and we only scratched the surface. One day, if the road is ever rebuilt, we’d love to venture deeper into the park to see even more of its wonders.