Denali National Park and Preserve


During the summer solstice in June 2010, I spent eight days and no nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here is a portion of the journey.


The paved road stops at the Savage River Station. This is the last stop for the privately owned vehicle. Continuing further into Denali National Park and Preserve requires a scheduled shuttle or a permit. Here at the twisted river crossing is the Savage rock and trail. To reveal a vista of the braided savage river. The flat bottomed broad valley quickly funnels into a canyon, indicating the end of an area of glaciation. It is also the symbolic gate to the wilderness and wildlife that abound within the six million acre preserve in Inland Alaska.


That night was spent at The Perch, a creek-side cabin complex conveniently perched next to a stream at the base of a beautiful yet severe mountain complete with a friendly bar and pizza shop. The menu was full of items made local and organic. Only micro-brews were on tap to get the evening started.


The next morning the mountains remained shrouded in fog and wispy low clouds. The tops of the mountains were not revealed until the fog lifted well into the afternoon. At Denali we caught the early shuttle to the Eielsman Visitors Center. The shuttle carried visitors 67 miles into the interior of the park, just under halfway, through expansive vistas and long broad valleys and twisted rivers. The drive took several hours giving the weary among our group an opportunity to catch periods of sleep making up for what was missed the night before.


Bears, caribou, antelope, mountain goats, Dahl sheep, red fox, ravens, grouses, eagles, hares and squirrels were plentiful. Along the way the shuttle stopped to provide an opportunity to photograph from a safe distance. The bears were intimidatingly large even from within the relative safety of the bus. Most of the animals paid little attention to the stream of buses traversing the winding road. It seems they have become conditioned to it’s presence and activity.


Around each corner the landscape opened to a new vista Polychrome basin full color reds greens, browns, coupled with the blue and white of the mostly cloudy sky. However the majesty of Denali would not be revealed to us today. Most park visitors often don’t see the fog shrouded mountain, its sheer scale creates it’s own weather patterns

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