We made it to Alaska and home again! Thought I’d start with the pictures of what everyone goes to Alaska to see and that’s Denali, the mountain (formerly Mt. McKinley), and the National Park. Denali means ‘the high one’ in the native Athabaskan language. It fits the mountain so much better than Mt. McKinley! The mountain is amazing! 20,310 ft. high, covered in ice and snow all year. You can see this mountain a good 200 miles away if the weather conditions are right, they say. On the other hand they also say its usually covered in clouds and if you see a small part of it you are very lucky. Most times you don’t see it at all. We hit the jackpot! As we got closer you could see its peak, but there was cloud cover. By the time we got as close as we were going to go it was completely visible, no clouds! Our guide was ecstatic. She said we were in a very small club of people that get to see it. Made up for the lack of wildlife ;( The only wildlife we saw was in the wildlife conserve. We did see whale, sea otters and eagles, no bear, moose, dal sheep, muskox, wolves, foxes etc.
Stunning isn’t it? Pictures do not do it justice. Denali is in the Alaska Range. It is the highest mountain on the continent. It is three and 1/2 vertical miles above its base. Making it a mile taller than Mt. Everest! Denali’s base is 2,000 ft. above sea level and Everest’s begins on a 14,000 ft. high plain. So technically Denali is taller than Everest! The north face Wickersham Wall is one of the worlds highest continuous mountain faces and enormous glaciers spider out from its base. You can read more about this mountain and mountain range here.
There is a 92 mile road into Denali National Park. Private vehicles are only to drive in the first 15 miles. Any further and you have to have a group tour taking you in or you can get a shuttle bus that runs on a schedule and drops off and picks up for hiking. There are special permits for hiking and camping. They hold a lottery each June and 1600 names are drawn for September when the road will be open to these people to drive privately. It all depends on the weather how many miles of the road will be open to them to drive. You can read about the lottery here. We were on a tour of course so we went on an old school bus with a naturalist guide who told us interesting things on the drive and we stopped at a couple places. One spot we took a small circular hike and half way in she had some animal skins, horn/antlers and hoofs and did a little talk. It’s quite different from other national parks that way. I guess it’s a good thing for preserving the land and protecting the wildlife. The park is made up of tundra and boreal forest
Here are a few more pictures from inside the park…