Day 55: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Our search for wildlife continued as we boarded our bus at 9:40 am. The 120 mile round trip to Kantishna and back took us all day. Our bus driver and tour guide Wayne kept us informed about each area we went through. The weather was overcast and rainy all day.
Our first two wildlife sightings were Grizzly bears. The first was close to the road, the second farther away.
Our first wildlife sighting was a Grizzly Bear
Second Grizzly sighting of the day
Next, we saw two different herds of Caribou before stopping at the Toklat River rest area. There we saw Dall Sheep on two different mountains. The Dall Sheep look like white dots on the mountain without binoculars or a telephoto lens. The pictures aren’t too good but you can tell they are sheep.
Caribou grazing in Denali National Park
We watched this Caribou herd as they moved quickly through the field
Beautiful view from Toklat River rest area
Three Dall sheep. The two rams are butting heads
Four Dall Sheep
Close up of one of the rams.
There were Caribou grazing on top of a ridge before we stopped at the Eileson Visitor’s Center for a stroll in the rain on the Tundra Loop Trail.
Another group of Caribou up on a ridge
Eielson Visitor’s Center
Wildflower on the Tundra Trail at the Eielson Visitor’s Center
Another wildflower on the Tundra Trail
Arctic Ground Squirrel, otherwise known as suicidal ground squirrels because they run out in the road right in front of vehicles.
And then there were moose.
Our first moose sighting was this cow by a pond
A big bull moose in the bushes
The Denali Park Road ends in Kantishna where several gold mines once operated. One of the mines was owned by the Quigleys. When the couple got divorced, Fannie Quigley built a cabin and lived there alone. When the national park expanded its boundaries the several privately owned lodges located there were allowed to continue to stay open.
Fannie Quigley’s cabin at Kantishna
We were on the bus for almost 10 hours
As we began our return trip we stopped at Wonder Lake where on a clear day there is a view of Mt. McKinley. In Denali National Park the chance of seeing Mt. McKinley is only 30% and the chance of seeing a bear is 90%.
A young bull moose
We saw this moose in a pond after we left Kantishna
We stopped at Wonder Lake where on a clear day you can see Mt. McKinley
Other than stopping to watch some Dall Sheep far off on the side of a mountain we didn’t make many stops to view wildlife on the return trip.
Total wildlife count for the day: 13 Caribou, 12 Dall Sheep, 2 Grizzly Bears, several Arctic Ground Squirrels, and a Ptarmigan (the state bird of Alaska) flying low to the ground by the bus. A great day!
Day 28: Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Ft. Nelson, BC to Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park, BC. Site 42. 190 miles traveled.
What better way to relax after 28 days on the road than to soak in hot springs? That hot water was just calling to me all day. To get there, we had to travel 190 miles of winding roads to cross the Rocky Mountains.
Spectacular mountain view
A small waterfall
The long and winding road
While driving along we were on the lookout for wildlife. And there was plenty to see.
Our first wildlife sighting of the day was a caribou
Stone Sheep on the Alaska Highway
A mountain goat by the road
Caribou on the Alaska Highway
Moose on the Alaska Highway
A herd of mountain goats
Mountain goats beside the Alaska Highway
Wood bison roam near the highway for the next 70 miles
We saw these bison with their calves just after we saw the sign
Bison near Liard Hotsprings
We had made reservations to stay in the Provincial Park – like a state park in the U.S. – and didn’t know what to expect. There were no hookups so we would be using our generator for the first time on this trip. When we saw our site, we were so glad we had decided to stay for 2 nights. With a long, very wide gravel pad and picnic table all surrounded by trees and wildflowers, it was the perfect place to take a break from traveling. A soak in the hot springs was a perfect ending to the day.
Our beautiful campsite at Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park
Wildflowers around our campsite
Mountain Bluebells grew all around
Liard River Hotsprings