Home to North America's Tallest Mountain

At just over 20,000 feet, Denali is an imposing sight, when you can see it.  We were extremely fortunate to have a great view on our drive from Houston to Denali National Park on Tuesday, July 13.   When we first saw the mountain, from a distance of about 70 miles, it almost startled us, it was so clear. 

As we drove further north, looking for a viewpoint, it seemed like every good stopping point was blocked for one reason or another.  When we missed the Alaska Veteran's Memorial rest area, which is not well marked and well back from the road, we reasoned we would have another opportunity.

After driving another 16 miles and stopping at a pullout with a view mostly blocked by bushes, we made the decision to turn around and go back.  Sue reasoned that we had driven more than 8,000 miles at this point and another 30 miles or so for a view of Denali on a day with exceptional visibility was worth the effort.

As it turns out, she was absolutely correct.  The next day, when we went into the park, there was a great deal of smoke coming in from the northeast, and the mountain was only dimly visible, even from only about 40 miles away.

We did see a lot of wildlife in the park, however.  Driving back into the park is not permitted, so we took a bus driven by a naturalist, who did an excellent job of providing additional info on the animals we saw.  The only real downer, other than the smoke, is the crowds of people at the park.  The cruise ship lines all bring people in by either train or bus, and it seems their operations have pretty much taken over the area outside the park.  It's not trashy, but it sure is "touristy." 

Otherwise, all is going well.  The coach is still performing well, Missy is getting along fine and, other than the smoke from the fires northeast of Fairbanks, the weather couldn't be much better.

On Thursday, July 15, we make our final 120 mile hop to Fairbanks, our caravan's final stop.

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Denali

From the southeast, taken on our drive up from Houston.

A Rainbow of Color

Denali, with Fireweed in the foreground.

Photo Op

Sue and Jo Lynch, capturing the Fireweed and the mountain.

Denali and Friends

'Nuff said.

Leaving the Observation Area

Photo taken from the Lynch's coach.

Bigtime Smoke

Denali, the next day from inside the park, with much reduced visibility.

Dall Sheep

On the sheer edge of a mountain.

Dall Sheep, Part II

Same sheep, I think, a few minutes later.

Grizzly Bear

One of a number of Grizzlys we saw while in the park.

Wolf

This guy was right up along side our bus. Photo by Bob Lynch.

Caribou

We saw lots of them.

More Caribou

These two were cooling off on some muddy ground.