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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Visiting Denali National Park, Alaska: September 11-13, 2017

Fall is definitely here with winter on her heels. We spent a lot of time at Denali National Park. This year the park celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Visitors are permitted to drive only 15 miles into the park. If you want to explore further, you must reserve and pay for a shuttle bus or tour bus trip to various points. Just a few days ago, we reserved a tour bus trip and a shuttle bus trip. We were lucky that there were still places to be had. The last day for any bus this year is September 14.

Not Denali
Most of the people who see Denali Mountain see her from outside the park's boundaries. On our first day exploring, we figured out where Denali was located, but she was hidden from sight. Denali is the Athabascan Indian word for "the High One".  The mountain has two peaks. The south peak is 20,310 ft/6190 meters making Denali the highest mountain in North America.

Denali's location is between these two mountain bumps
Our first day, Tuesday (9/12) we took the narrated Tundra Wilderness Tour. The bus ride took us about 50 miles or so into the park. We saw a female moose, grizzly bears (one was busy gorging on berries right next to the roadway), Dall sheep, and finally the lower portion of Mt. Denali.

This female moose was spotted within the first 15 miles of highway. The driver said that her ears are back because she is stressed by all the buses and cars of people who have stopped to gawk at her. She did manage to screw up her courage to escape across the road.

Dall sheep
The tour bus stopped so we could watch this grizzly gorge on berries. The bear was quite close and seemed oblivious to large groups of people watching him/her.

Classic grizzly profile: Roman nose and small ears

Unfortunately, we were not sitting on the bear side of the bus so were at the mercy of the people sitting on that side. We had to shoot between heads and backs to get anything. One way to get this far in without a crowd is to win the private vehicle entry lottery. For each day of the lottery 400 names are drawn and those winners may drive the length of the park road in private vehicles. The dates for this year's lottery days is September 15-19. The other way is to be a famous and successful photographer first and then be granted access to the roadway. Guess we're stuck with the park buses.

The lower portion of Denali just visible at the end of the road
On the way back we saw a female moose (probably the same moose) in the same area as our first sighting except this time she was on the other side of the road.

Our second day in the park we took a shuttle bus 66 miles into the park to Eielson. This was an unnarrated bus that stopped when animals were sighted along the way. Eielson is a beautiful visitor’s center with a view of Mt. Eielson and Mt. Denali (weather permitting). We were lucky to have a beautiful sunny day and another partial view of Denali. The landscape in every direction from the Eielson visitor's center (Mile 66) was beautiful.

Denali Park has sculptural, spectral clouds. The scientific explanation is "Lenticular clouds are a form of wave cloud typically seen in the lee of mountains when moist air is forced to rise over elevated terrain. They often appear almost motionless with respect to the terrain because they form in stationary air currents -- in the crest of the wave. With sufficient moisture and airflow, multiple layers of lenticulars may be stacked atop one another."

Mt. Eielson

We walked a couple of short trails and caught another shuttle back to the park entrance.

Mile 46 - Polychrome Overlook

Along the way we saw 3 bears, a sow and two older cubs, digging a hole into the side of a hill. The sow snagged an arctic ground squirrel and didn’t share any with her cubs. Eventually, one of the cubs also grabbed a squirrel. We could hear the cub without a squirrel dinner complaining and whining loudly because his grizzly mom refused to share her squirrel. We were mesmerized by the drama, mostly silent, and their interaction.

Young grizzly cub still digging for a squirrel
We were lucky enough to finally see a bull moose in the distance.

Crossed fingers that we'll see Denali tomorrow on a flight-seeing tour.