This blog for the tenth day on the Alaskan venture was delayed until our arrival in Anchorage due to an absent WiFi connection at Denali, so I am doing a bit of catching up.
The day started on a cool, foggy morning in Fairbanks. Temperatures were in the forties and compared to upper 70 degree mornings in my beloved Texas, I was in heaven!
Before loading onto the motor coach to hit the highway, we gathered for a good breakfast buffet at Fairbank’s Westmark Resort.
Our two and a half hour drive brought us just outside Denali National Park to the Denali Princess and Wilderness Lodge. This beautiful property is nestled in the Alaskan Range and boasts gift shops and restaurants, which we all sampled immediately upon arrival.
Holiday Vacations provided lunch for our group at a great spot on the property called The King Salmon! One things for certain, we have all eaten well on this trip. I know we are all so glad that you NEVER gain weight on vacation meals!
After a hearty lunch, we loaded onto a park bus and made our way into one of the last intact ecosystems in the world, 6 million acre Denali National Park and Preserve! Due to the immense size of the park, our ability to spot and photograph the wildlife would depend entirely on good fortune.
Alaska’s State Bird, the Ptarmigan came close enough to our bus for a good photo as well as a surprising roadside encounter with a grey wolf.
Several distant mountainside views of the Dall Sheep kept binoculars busy along with sightings of Bull Moose. The Eagle flew overhead on a couple of occasions, but the coveted Grizzly Bear was what everyone longed to see! While it was regrettably too far for a great close-up, we did manage to spot a total of eight of these fierce park inhabitants and managed to aim a camera at the one below.
Our seven hour guided venture through the park was on the only road in and out of this amazing preserve. We all longed to catch a clear view of 20,000 foot high Mount McKinley, but clouds on this late afternoon/evening limited its snowy vista. Our patience to see this magnificent mountain paid off with clear visibility on our departure from the park the following morning!
Our group’s time in Denali and all the wildlife, mountain and valley grandeur we witnessed was truly thrilling! Tuesday, we head for Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. On the way, we’ll enjoy lunch at Settlers Bay Lodge in Wasilla. I wonder if we should expect an official welcoming from former Governor Palin?
Rusty's Entire Alaskan Travel Blog
Part 1 - Seattle
Part 2 - Vancouver
Part 3 - “The Inside Passage”
Part 4 - Ketchikan
Part 5 - Juneau
Part 6 - The White Pass and Yukon Narrow Gauge
Part 7 - Canadian Yukon
Part 8 - Fairbanks
Part 9 - Panning for Gold
Part 10 - Denali
Part 11 - Mt. McKinley and Wasilla
Part 12 - Anchorage and Prince William Sound