Five years ago this week we were on the road to Alaska from Georgia. Once we crossed the border into Canada, I spent every day looking for wildlife. There were many “WOW” wildlife sightings in both Canada and Alaska.
I’ve been thinking about posting some of my favorite wildlife photos from the trip and today I finally got the boost I needed to put it all together. When my friend Ingrid at Live, Laugh RV posted that the theme for her very first Wednesday photo inspiration was wildlife, I immediately started going though the thousands of photos from the trip.
If you would like to participate or see other posts inspired by Ingrid, click on over to Ingrid’s post Wandering Wednesday.
Here are just a few of my favorite wildlife photos from our Canada and Alaska adventure.
I’m sure many of you are getting bored to tears with all my posts and photos so I will condense our three nights in Palmer into one post.
Day 60: Sunday, July 14, 2013. Talkeetna to Palmer, Alaska. Big Bear RV park, Site 56. 145 miles traveled. We are actually closer to Wasilla but the RV park has a Palmer address.
After all the excitement and fun we had in Talkeetna we hated to leave but there is still more of Alaska to see. The drive was uneventful except for seeing a moose cow and her calf cross the road in front of us.
Our first order of business after getting set up was to go to Walmart a mile down the road to get some much needed supplies. When we got back we met some fellow Titanium owners from Missouri who were parked in our row.
Day 61: Monday, July 15, 2013
Our plan for a drive on Hatcher Pass Road was shortened by fog but we enjoyed our drive as far as the Independence Mine
Henry and Blondie at the Little Susitna River
Wildflowers by the river
It was foggy all day
Marmot on top of one of the old buildings
Independence Mine State Historical Site
Old Mine Train
Henry and Blondie exploring the old mine
Day 62: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
A trip to the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska and then a shopping trip to Fred Meyer for our final grocery shopping before heading to the Kenai Peninsula.
At the Iditarod Trail Headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska
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 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.
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.
When the shuttle bus stopped, we looked all around to see what they saw
The shuttle bus was stopped to look at this moose
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!”.
At Savage River overlook at the end of the 15 miles
View from overlook on Denali Park Road
Beauty everywhere you look
We could see Mt. McKinley with binoculars. One of the peaks is just above the clouds in the middle of this picture
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.
The green shuttle bus stopped to look at the moose
Moose beside the road on the way out of the park
Moose beside the road as we were leaving Denali
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.