Adventures in Alaska – Denali – Day 1
Our adventures around Denali National Park was based from our hotel, the Grande Denali Lodge. It sits high up on a hill overlooking the main drag. We liked it because it was a short hike (10 min) to the main drag and the views were gorgeous and you didn’t feel like you were among the adventure outfitters and restaurants. Our room came with buffet breakfast, and the view from the dining room was incredible. My kids are not the most adventurous eaters, but they loved the reindeer sausage!
Main attractions in Denali are not hard to find. Adventure outfitters on the main strip offer river rafting, jeep or 4×4 tours, wildlife viewing tours, panning for gold, jet boating, etc. The front desk at the Grand Denali Lodge can book and accept payment for these adventures and even arrange for the outfitter to pick you up! First, we visited the Nenana River. We decided we weren’t going to river raft on it, but the water is so cold and is a sight to see.
The wildlife viewing in Denali can be great. According to the locals, the wildlife excursion trip is the best shot at seeing bear, moose, etc. But with 3 kids and a 10 hour tour, we just couldn’t justify it. But if you are going to be sooo disappointed if you don’t see major animals then it might be worth it to you. There are no guarantees, but that tour gets you deeper into the national park.
Our ABD group had an educational lecture on Denali Nat’l Park while the kids had s’mores. Included in our group activities was a jet boating activity. We enjoyed a fast ride up and down the river, but did not see any wildlife. After our ride, they discussed the fur trappers life (how much $ they get for the different pelts) and let us pan for gold. With gold prices so high, they’re doing great and the flakes we panned were worth about $2 a piece. They were great with the kids, but if you have strong views about animals, or are a vegetarian, you might want to skip it.
One of our favorite places to eat was Prospector’s Pizzeria and Alehouse. We had Elk meatballs, Reindeer sausage pizza, towering onion rings, and great local brews. They have a restaurant shuttle in case you have one too many of their amazing ales. You can even get a pizza with Alaskan King Crab on it! The rustic Alaskan decor is just the icing on the cake… I mean, pizza!
Next up, Denali Day 2, wildlife galore!