Bill & Jim's Alaska Trip

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July 13
Denali National Park

Hoary Marmot

Teklanika River




Bell Flowers

We finally got into Denali National Park. For the most part, you cannot drive a private vehicle very far into the park. They rely on shuttle buses to get the people around. Some of destinations in the park take 4 or 6 hours each way to get to. As inconvenient as this sounds, the alternative (an endless parade of vehicles and dust) is unbearable. You can, however, drive to the end of the paved part of the road (about 14 miles). On the first day, we drove to this point and took a short hike. That is where we saw the hoary marmot.

Right after our hike, we were near our car when someone pointed out some wildlife action. We looked up to see a Toklat Grizzly Bear chasing a moose cow and her calf. They came down the hillside, across the road and into the river bed, right in between a couple of very surprised fishermen. The moose and calf easily outdistanced the bear.

On the second day, we took a shuttle bus to Eielson Visitors' Center. This is an eight hour round trip. The shuttle buses are not a wildlife tour per se, but they do stop for wildlife when it is spotted. We did get to see moose, Willow Ptarmigan, Northern Harrier, caribou, and a grizzly bear sow and two cubs. Unfortunately, the digital camera doesn't have a telephoto lens, so I couldn't get pictures of many of these. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy and overcast all day, so we didn't get to see the mountain. At just over 20,000 feet,Denali is the highest mountain in North America, but is rarely visible in the summertime. Even so, it was a very worthwhile trip.
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