Day 51: Denali at last

Day 51: Friday, July 5, 2013. North Pole, Alaska to Denali. Denali RV Park and Motel, Site 5. 194 miles traveled.

With all our chores and shopping in Fairbanks completed it was time to continue our Alaskan adventure. We left North Pole behind and traveled the Parks Highway to our RV park 8 miles outside the entrance of Denali National Park. Our reservations at Teklanika River Camp inside the national park aren’t until Monday so we will be exploring different areas of the park until then.

We made it!
Denali at last

As soon as we were set up in our campsite we drove to Denali National Park. A quick stop at the Visitor’s Center to get our National Park Passport stamped and to purchase my Senior Pass or Geezer Pass as it is often called. I officially became a senior when I turned 62 a couple of weeks ago. The National Park Service offers a Senior Pass to those of us who have reached that ripe old age. For $10 you receive a lifetime pass which gets you into any national park or monument for free and a discount for camping in many of the federal campgrounds.

With that chore completed, we stopped at the bookstore to search for a guide book to the plants and animals of Denali so we’ll know what we are looking at.

It was finally time to go explore the park. In Denali, private vehicles are only allowed on the first 15 miles of the Denali Park Road. To travel beyond that point everyone must travel on a shuttle or tour bus. The only exception is campers going to Teklanika River Camp where we will be going on Monday. More about that later.

As we traveled along the highway marveling at the beauty around us we had to stop a few times when a shuttle bus in front of us stopped. If the shuttle bus stops there must be something good to see.

At the 15 mile mark we stopped at the Savage River overlook to enjoy the view and then turned around to make our way back to the park entrance. We were hoping to get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley. Like most days, clouds were covering the peaks. At one of the overlooks we got out binoculars and searched along with a couple from Texas and a couple from Toronto. Henry spotted the peaks above the clouds first. As he pointed out where to look the excitement grew among the crowd. One by one we heard “I see it!”.

On our way back out of the park, we stopped again as the shuttle bus in front of us stopped. A moose was right beside the road not bothered by us at all.

Mt. McKinley and two moose on our first visit to Denali! What a great introduction to the park!

We stopped at the Wilderness Access Area to find out information about what to do when we check in on Monday. The lady helping us was from Georgia. She told us we could go ahead and check in so we did. With all the necessary parking and shuttle passes in hand we headed back to our campground.

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make some crab stew with some of our Dungeness Crab from Haines. The weather here is windy and cold and it was a perfect night for stew. Out of this world delicious if I do say so myself.

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