Thursday, July 14, 2016

Denali National Park

View of Mt. Denali and surrounding area from North View Point, Denali State Park

In my last blog we got to Denali State Park and had some good shots of Mt. Denali.  Of course, we are in Tok now, and if you missed that portion of the trip from Wasilla to Denali State Park, click here and read it first.  One thing I did not point out in the last post was that one “plus” for the North View area in the State Park is that you can see the view from the motorhome, which was a plus for Marcia…at the South View you have to go down a pathway to the viewpoint, a negative for Marcia.  Living with the effects of MS is not easy at all, but she does very well considering.

Igloo Gas

From the North View all the way to Denali it was a pretty drive…despite the clouds moving in, which I knew was going to cover up Denali way before we entered the National Park.  Could not resist showing this gas station above, aptly called “Igloo Gas”.

Mountains between Denali State Park and Denali National Park     Mountains between Denali State Park and Denali National Park

Mountains between Denali State Park and Denali National Park     Mountains between Denali State Park and Denali National Park

Mountains between Denali State Park and Denali National Park     Mountains between Denali State Park and Denali National Park

Many just focus on Denali, but we found the surrounding Alaska Range mountains to be very pretty too, especially with the various bodies of water running along them.

Stuck Railroad Crossing, outside Denali National Park     Stuck Railroad Crossing, outside Denali National Park

And just a couple miles short of Denali road, the main and only entrance into the park, we hit a traffic jam…caused by a malfunctioning railroad crossing.  After sitting in the line of cars for a good 40 minutes, park rangers finally came and moved the arms aside…leaving the lights flashing and crossing bells ringing, but allowing traffic to pass. 

Visitor's Center, Denali National Park     Eatery by Visitor's Center, Denali National Park

Denali is a very “limited use” National Park.  There is the visitor center (upper left) and eatery (upper right), and then you can drive your car 15 miles into the park, -OR- you can take the bus down into the park for 90+ miles as long as there is room on a bus, and you pay the proper amount of $$$ … you are allowed to make reservations.  My thought was, I wonder how many reservations got screwed up by that 40 minute wait at the railroad signal?  Of course, you are also allowed to hike, but you need to file a permit for most areas you hike to...and then there are those select few who climb the mountain.

Visitor's Center, Denali National Park      Visitor's Center, Denali National Park 

Denali National Park has a real nice visitor’s center.  We were lucky in that the movie they show at these type of places was just getting ready to start as we walked in, so we watched the 20 minute movie, which was interesting.  Then a quick look around at the many exhibits they have…

Visitor's Center, Denali National Park     Visitor's Center, Denali National Park

Visitor's Center, Denali National Park

Visitor's Center, Denali National Park     Visitor's Center, Denali National Park

3D Map at Visitor's Center, Denali National Park

They really have some good exhibits, and it gives a good feel for what you won’t see in Denali…won’t see because of the 7,370 square miles within the park…those who take a bus get to see that part which the 90 miles cover.  Taking a bus like this is not in the cards for Marcia, and the road after 15 miles is all dirt…in fact, it was hard on her the 15 miles in the motorhome that we did go on because a large portion of it is under construction.  MS is a nerve disease, and bouncy roads take a toll on her.  She is not looking forward to that portion of the Alaska Highway which will still be under construction when we head back south in a few days...that will be 50 miles of who knows what, it was pure hell coming up on some of that...

Denali National Park      Denali National Park

So off we went on our 15 mile trip into the park…with the overcast we could not see Denali, we saw no wildlife, and we were turned back 2 miles early by rangers due to “Bad Bear Activity”.  “IF” we wanted to camp in the park, then we could have entered into the online lottery, so to speak, and “IF” we were lucky, we could have camped in the campground deeper into the park.  However, our HHR would have had to be left at the Visitor’s Center, and once set-up in the campground, the motorhome could not be moved until we left.  The bus would take us further into the park, or back to the the 15 mile mark…if one goes back to the visitor’s center (like to get something out of your car) you have to pay the full bus price to get back into the park again.  Tough rules, but many wish to do it, and only a few are lucky enough to be able to do it...we did not even try.  We enjoyed the Visitor's Center, and seeing Mt. Denali, but Marcia re-hurt her arm getting back into the motorhome.  Let's just say, she has not got out of the motorhome since Monday--which is why we left Fairbanks after one night at Fred Meyer, and tomorrow she will get out for a lunch at Fast Eddy's and hopefully we won't hurt the healing arm anymore.  We will be in Tok for two more nights, and from here we plan to go to Whitehorse (Yukon), then to Haines (Alaska) for awhile.


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