July 11, 2014

Denali State Park and Preserve: Day One

What a great seven days it has been!
My family has been here since the 4th, and since then, we have driven four hours to and from Denali State Park, went on a Kenai Fjords water cruise tour, viewed much of the wildlife Alaska has to offer, played too many rounds of Double Euchre, and even reorganized our house!
We have done so much and we still have 3 days left!
But really, I think my family has seen almost all of the big wildlife that there is to see in The Last Frontier. They have been so lucky!
I am going to write about our adventures in increments, so today's post will be part one of our trip to
Denali State Park and Preserve
My mom, step-dad, and grandma arrived late Friday night. The next day we got everything packed up and ready to go, picked up the RV, and headed to Denali State Park and Preserve.
Mom, Kenny, and Grandma rode in the RV and Joshua and I rode in our Subaru. Of course, we would have loved to ride with them, but Joshua had to leave early from Denali Monday night to work Tuesday, so we drove the four hours separately.

Our first views of Mt. McKinley from the road:
^^ You'll see Grandma on a rock basically in every picture to try to be as tall as us!

^^ 82 degrees as we headed to Denali! // Igloo hotel ^^
^^ Made it to the Denali meridian // Most expensive gas, yet ^^

We were in Denali for two whole days - Sunday and Monday.
(We arrived Saturday evening and left Tuesday morning).

By "in" Denali, I meant on the outskirts of the actual park. There is only one road that goes in Denali Park. The two main ways to view Denali is to book a tour or take a chance and use their green shuttle buses that travel around the park. The green buses are used as transportation into the park and to transfer passengers while in the park. If you decide to take the green bus, don't guarantee to use the same green bus every time. Pretty simple but you really are on your own if you decide to do it this way.  They only allow these two ways because they only allow a certain number of cars into the park per day. They do this because it is designated a wilderness, hence the "preserve" part of Denali State Park and Preserve. They try to keep it as "wild" as they can.

Our first full day there we decided to book a Tundra Wilderness tour. We figured this would be the easiest and best way to see as much of Denali as we could. This tour lasted eight hours and included a boxed lunch snack. It allowed us to go into the park 62 miles - some of the road paved and some not.

And just like the names suggests, we saw a ton of wilderness (plants and animals) on this tour. Like I mentioned before, my family has been super lucky with all the wildlife they have seen! On this tour, we saw arctic ground squirrels, multiple birds, a fox, caribou, moose, and even a grizzly.

^^ Birds // Arctic Ground Squirrel ^^

 ^^ Caribou shedding it's winter coat // Fox ^^

^^ Mama moose and 2 calves // Grizzly bear getting ready to munch on some moose carcass ^^
I mean I don't know if they could have seen anything else on this tour!
Well, one thing. We have yet to see a Dall Sheep.
 And not just the animals, but on this tour, we saw the prettiest flowers. And thanks to my grandma, I can study all about the flowers of Alaska with the book she bought me right after we got off this tour.

^^ Bluebells ^^

^^ Fireweed ^^

^^ Frigid Arnica ^^

And then the main part of the tour: Mt. McKinley.
Mt. McKinley's south peak is the tallest peak in North America at 20,320 feet.
Here is a fun fact: Only 33% of people that visit Denali see Mt. McKinley.
Usually, the weather is cloudy or foggy where the view is hard to see.
But we had the best views of Mt. McKinley the entire tour. We were part of the 33%!

^^ There's that rock again! ^^


Have you all tried the Panoramic option on the iPhone 5? It is way cool!

Although, Mt. McKinley was clear as day the entire tour, not every bend and turn in the road allowed the view. But that didn't stop the beautiful scenery! Alaska is beautiful, and Denali is no different!

Thanks for a fun tour day, Denali!

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