Adventures in Alaska – Denali Day 2
Most United States National Parks have great resources and staff, and Denali is no exception. Our group had an arrangement through the park to be given lunch, a lecture about the wolves in Denali National Park, and taken on a small hike. This was all done just outside of the Murie Science and Learning Center with a park ranger as our guide. We learned so much information that I think a trip to one of the information centers is a must for any family.
The park rangers are so friendly they’ll tell you anything you need to know and somethings they just think you might want to know! They split our large group of into smaller ones of about 10 people per group. On our short guided hike we found fresh blueberries, soapberries, scat, leaf miners, scrub birds, eagles, and amazing views.
They track wolves in Denali with radio telemetry. The kids even got to use the antena to check to see if wolves were in the area. Boys and their electronics, they were in heaven. After showing us an old collar (that still smelled of wolf) the kids located one that the park service planted for use in demonstrations. It was great fun.
Our afternoon was set aside for free time away from our group. Our lodge helped arrange a jeep tour into the park with Denali Jeep Backcountry Safari. There is only one road into the park, so outfitters have found other ways to get more people an up close experience. Our jeep tour took us down the Stampede Trail.
Yes, it is the same one that Chris McCandless got dropped off as he ventured “Into the Wild” about which the movie and book were based. I had read the book, and you might want to see the movie before you head out there (not a kid movie). It was a little eerie to think about the fact that he walked that trail “into the wild” and never walked back out.
Never having done a jeep tour we did not know what to expect. Let’s just say it is one of our favorite memories. You get to drive your own jeep! 4 people to a jeep done caravan style, with CB radios as the guide does a commentary and you can interrupt with questions and screams. The RUGGED terrain made for lots of yeehaws and giggles from the backseat!
Some people will visit the park and never get to see the mountain as it has it’s own weather system and is clouded over a majority of the time. We had great views of Denali in a more private setting this way. Our caravan had to stop for a moose and her calf that were standing in the middle of the trail. They moved just enough off the road for a little cover and kept eating. We rolled by slowly and kept going, but she was so close we could have touched her.
After a stop at a campfire by a river, with some homemade hearty stew, fry bread, and some lemonade, we headed back the same direction we came from. And yes, the moose was still there!! The pictures do not do it justice as I was in a bumpy jeep with people in front and in back.
Our late night ended with dinner at Denali Park Salmon Bake. The menu was so varied, everyone could pick something out, even mexican. The restaurant even shuttled us back to the lodge as we were too full and tired to hike the 10 minutes back up the hill.
Favorite Tidbit of the Day (poem given by Denali Park Ranger Guide):
It starts with an S and ends with a T
It comes out of you and it comes out of me
I know what you’re thinking,
but don’t call it that!
Be scientific and call it…