Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Denali National Park

We spent a total of four nights in Denali - the first and last at a run-down RV campground outside of the park, and two nights at Savage River campground inside the park. In Denali, you can only drive as far as Savage River, and then you need to take the shuttle buses the rest of the way. Savage River is about 15 miles in, and the road goes a total of about 90 miles in. Round trip from the visitor's center, out to Wonder Lake at the end, and back again is 11 hours on the bus.

There are 3 shuttle types inside of the park: the camper bus, the shuttle bus and the tour buses. Camper and shuttle mostly go back and forth, stopping for wildlife and getting a minimum of commentary. The camper bus just has more room in the back for gear. The tour buses have a guide who provides commentary the whole time. All of the buses are school bus designs with the old-time sliding windows, no AC and bench seats. Very middle-school.

Sherry and I chose to camp out at Wonder Lake and return the next day, so we spent one day in Savage River, took the shuttle to Wonder Lake, came back the next afternoon and then located the Tortoise bus packed up and moved down towards the visitor center. After that, we spent our last night at the crappy RV park and had a final supper at the brewpub. Our last day was a drive from Denali to Anchorage where we took a redeye home via Chicago.

We did not get a good view of Denali from Wonder Lake. The mountain was covered in clouds. Like a good stripper, we got shown little pieces of the mountain from time to time, but never saw the whole thing.

Denali days are driven by the shuttle schedule. I took pictures of a lot of them. Shuttles operate inside of the park, and separate shuttles operate outside. 

Sherry showing off a big chunk of Alaskan crab. This is where we watched the World Cup USA game.

Campsite at mile 12.8 where the bus parked for two nights. We only spent one night here and then went off to Wonder Lake

Wonder Lake campground at mile 83. We took the 4-hour "camping bus" shuttle from Savage River out to Wonder Lake. We saw caribou and grizzly along the way.  

Heading back from Wonder Lake to find the Tortoise.

Moose outside of the visitor center.

Denali, at last, showing itself. This is from the drive home. 

Sherry and Denali

Our campsite at Savage River.

The last supper at the 49th State Brewing Company

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