July 16th and 17th 2012
Denali Wilderness covers the area formerly known as Mount McKinley National Park from 1917 until the park was expanded and renamed in 1980. It is 2,146,580 acres in area; the entire park is larger than the state of Massachusetts. It is located just 250 miles south of the Artic Circle. Over 400,000 people visit the park each year, which doesn't seem like much compared to the parks in the upper 48. Which actually is nice because it is much less crowded.
On a clear day, Mt. McKinley is visible along the Parks Highway. However summer’s are often overcast or rainy, allowing summer visitors only a 20-30 percent chance of seeing the Mountain.
Mike and Donna took the 11 hour 192 mile round trip shuttle bus ride to Wonder Lake. Cars are not allowed to travel the road through the park. As you can see from the pictures the scenery was breathtaking.
Caribou in the snow cover, Dall sheep in the hills and mama bear and her two cubs in the field.
A couple of moose by the river.
Donna got this amazing picture of a wolf howling. We have seen only a couple of grizzly bear, Donna was lucky to get a picture, you do have to enlarge it to see the bear, pretty far off.
Denali is home to a variety of Alaskan birds and mammals, including grizzly bears and black bears. Herds of caribou roam throughout the park. Dall sheep are often seen on mountainsides, and moose feed on plants near the small lakes and swamps. Despite human impact on the area, Denali accommodates gray wolf dens. Smaller animals, such as hoary marmots, arctic ground squirrels, beavers, pikas, and snowshoe hares are also seen. Foxes, martens, lynx, wolverines also inhabit the park, but are more rarely seen due to their elusive natures.
You may notice there are no pictures of Mount McKinley on the bus trip, it was a very cloudy and over cast day, the mountains were hiding. We did get pictures the next day along the Parks Highway as we were driving to Anchorage.
Many places along the road there are no guard rails, that has to be a thrill.
Wonder Lake was the turn around point on the bus trip. Notice the sign says there is a campground, it is tent sights only and you do have to take the shuttle bus.