Denali National Park

 


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Our first excursion after arriving in Alaska was a bus tour of Denali National Park and preserve. The park covers more than 6 million acres and includes Mt. McKinley, which at 20,237 feet, is the highest peak in North America. Unfortunately because of it's height,  it creates it's own weather and is usually shrouded in clouds. Only 1/3 of visitors to the park actually see the peak and we were not one of that 1/3. The first 15 miles of the 91 mile road into the park are available to private vehicles. Beyond that point, visitors must access the interior of the park through concessionary buses.

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While we didn't see Mt. McKinley we did see plenty of wildlife such as Blonde Grizzlies, Moose, Bald Eagles, Caribou, Dall sheep and sled dogs. We had heard so much about the Alaska state bird, the mosquito, we were lucky we never really encountered them. The drive up to Denali NP was rainy and we didnít really see much because the cloud cover was so thick and low. There were a few pull off spots to view Mt. McKinley; we would pull in, but you couldnít see anything.

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The bus tour into the park stops when anyone on the bus spots any wildlife. Anytime you see a bus stopped, you know there is some kind of wildlife to view. We stopped in Wasilla on our way up to Denali, looking for Sarah, but.. never did spot her. Wasilla is the Official headquarters of the Iditarod Race, and we stopped at the Museum & Visitor Center. At the Iditarod headquarters, we had our first ride on a dog sled that had wheels. The dogs truly love to run and get very excited when they are going to get the chance to run and pull. The national park also has dog kennels that are open to visitors. While we are not crazy about bus tours this is the only way you get to see some of our National Parks and I have to agree it is needed to keep down the number of vehicles in these national gems.

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