Denali National Park: Natural History Tour

I hope my fellow Americans had a wonderful 4th of July yesterday! I’m back today with another post from the Land of the Midnight Sun – Alaska. And believe me, it really is the “land of the midnight sun” here in the summer. I was just wearing my sunglasses the other night at 10pm! You will see more pictures of that later and get glimpses of it in my upcoming YouTube videos (I’ll be breaking up the trip into 3 videos most likely). I’m still in Alaska for a few more days but I’ve been putting together travel posts while I’ve been away so that everything is still fresh in my mind.

Last Thursday, I went on a Natural History Tour of Denali National Park. We only explored a tiny bit of the park – I think we only went to Mile 17, but it gave us a good glimpse of the beauty of the area. Our bus driver/tour guide for this trip, Jen, was so knowledgeable and like almost everyone else we’ve met here she is just a seasonal worker here in Alaska. So many people, especially in tourism, only live and work in Alaska from May-September. A lot of these towns close down for the winters. The major cities, as well as I’m sure most of the places further south in the state, have people living there year-round, but in the more tourist geared towns, they close down for the winter.

Anyway, we got picked up from the Denali Princess Lodge and ventured into Denali National Park. We were on the lookout for wildlife outside the windows the entire time. As someone who falls asleep in moving vehicles incredibly easily, I was awake and alert for this entire excursion hoping to spot a moose or something! The views were stunning, but unfortunately we didn’t see Mt. Denali. It was too cloudy so it wasn’t visible. If you can believe it, all these mountains you see in this photos are supposedly tiny in comparison to Mt. Denali. I’m told they are basically the foothills of Mt. Denali and these stand around 5,000 ft. while Denali stands at over 20,000! 20,320 to be exact. So these mountains are only ¼ of the elevation! Seeing Denali that day would’ve been phenomenal, but it just wasn’t in the cards. However, I did get to finally see it the next day, which you may have seen on my Instagram and Twitter. I will write all about that in an upcoming post – possibly the one that will go up tomorrow.

We made a stop inside the park to walk some of the Savage Alpine Trail and see a real Athabascan log cabin. I was slightly terrified of this short trail because there were 2 grizzly bear encounters within the past 2 weeks in the immediate area! I’m happy to report that I was not attacked by a grizzly bear.

The last stop we made in the park was to Primrose Ridge, also known as Inspiration Point. We met with Carol, an Athabascan woman, who told us a little about her heritage, people, and family as well as the 5 main types of Native Alaskans. I learned that Eskimos are all the way at the very north of the state and Athabascans are in the central, interior part of the state. I also learned that the Athabascans are related to the Navajo! You learn something new every day. Oh! I also learned that the land we were driving in between the two mountain ranges – The Alaskan Range and the opposite range which I can’t remember the name of now (it was something like Inner Range or Interior Range) – was carved out hundreds (thousands?) years ago by a giant glacier. Crazy!

Lastly, we did spot a moose in the distance. See if you can find it! It’s very hard to spot because the moose blend in well with their environment and I believe the picture shows the back of the moose not a side view.

Denali National Park 1
Savage Alpine Trail
Denali National Park - Primrose Ridge 1
Denali National Park
Denali National Park 2
Denali Natural History Tour - Carol
Denali National Park - Primrose Ridge
Denali National Park  - Moose Sighting

I hope you enjoyed the pictures! I’ve got a lot more to come!

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