28 July 2015

"D-Day! A Tour of a Lifetime!"

28 Jul 2015--We went into Denali again on Sunday, initially thinking we would head to the Visitor Center to determine what kind of tours were available and what the best hiking trails would be for us to do another day.  After getting a feel for what we wanted to do though, we decided to take an 8-hour bus tour of the park, where they drive you out on the only park road 66 miles to a stop called Eielson Point and then back again.

Before we knew it this caribou was in the middle of the road, directly outside our bus for us to get a great look at.  The antlers on these animals are huge...check out the 3rd pic, the antler looks like a big hand with the fingers spread.

  

When expanded in 1980, the park tripled in size from 2 million to over 6 million acres.  And it is every bit of breathtaking!!!!!


 

We saw 4 grizzly bears while there, but this was the best.  Check out the 2nd pic...I didn't even know I caught it on the picture till we got home, but this mother had 2 babies, and one of them is suckling behind her left, front leg!  The majority of the grizzlies in Denali are blond, but the babies are dark.

 

The landscape is the result of ash and lava left behind from volcanoes 56 million years ago...it is truly "otherworldly"!   They only let tourists drive the 1st 15 miles of the park, and although I would prefer to drive the roads in our car, I can understand why.  To leave this place as pristine as possible, I am glad they control the crowds.

   

They stopped and let us out of the bus several times for pictures and "comfort" breaks, so we never felt cooped up.  There was just too much to see, and we were all looking for wildlife the whole drive, so between that and the landscapes, time really flew by.

 

 

Here is a young caribou in a ditch, and even though the 2nd and 3rd pics look the same initially, he is actually "leaning in" in the 3rd pic...to see what we were doing I think.  haha


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Check out what some of the roads we are driving on looked like.  Sometimes the bus felt like it was on the very edge and could easily slip off the side.  Ellen thought the driver was doing it on purpose to scare us...haha.  More often than not if another bus came in the opposite direction one of the buses had to pull over to let the other get by.



Even high in the hills Cathy spotted these Dall Sheep, the ones that look like bighorn sheep, but aren't.   They were way, way up, but you can see something white moving against the background and with my zooming in we were able to get some pics.

 

As you can see in most of the pictures, the majority of the day was threatening rain, especially as we climbed higher and longer into the park, but for the most part we got very little rain.  It was quite cold at some point though, especially upon the return drive.  At one stop I saw this plant...don't know what it was, but it was pretty.  And just look at the scenery...even blustery it is gorgeous out here.

  
 
 

Another grizzly strolling along, and a couple of our resting places.  The biggest rack of horns are those of moose.  We didn't see any moose this day, but that's about the only thing we didn't see, so we were still very pleased!!!


  

Now this isn't too pleasant, but you have to feel for some of these caribou that get these fly infestations.  The driver said it doesn't kill most of them, but pretty much drives them mad with itching as the eggs hatch under their coat.

 


This is more pleasant...another couple of the caribou sightings.  It's amazing that those racks grow from scratch every year to the mature size they get.


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At our end point, called Eielson Point, I took these pics of a bird called a Tern...Check out the 3rd pic, where he is in the center, bottom...he looks minuscule in comparison to his surroundings!



More of Eielson Point...this spot was so incredibly pretty, it should almost be illegal!!! Actually, the whole park should be!  haha



 
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These were the last 2 grizzlies we saw, and Ellen was the 1st person on the bus to spot the one in the 1st 2 pics and the video!!!  Touche, Ellen!

 


So that's a wrap, folks!  In my humble opinion, Denali National Park should be on every one's bucket list, but if not I am glad you got to see some of it here.  I think Cathy, Ellen and I would all agree that we were truly blessed to be able to see it in person...it far exceeded any of our expectations!!!

 

5 comments:

  1. This was an exceptional day!!!!! Between the scenery, and animals I feel like I had to pitch myself to make sure it was real!!!!

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  2. Hi Paula, Ellen and Cathy

    Denali National Park looks awesome - Alaska and the park is on my bucket list.

    I love the National Parks - I even have a National Park passport book where you get a stamp from every national park you visit and put it in the book.

    I should have asked Ellen to get my Alaska magnet from Denali - I'm slipping I guess LOL :)

    Love ya,
    Trisha

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  3. You're right. That was beautiful. I loved all the whispering in the video. I got your card thank you. Loved the picture of the bird. I'm glad you couldn't go in your car, God knows what trouble you would have gotten Ellen in. Not to change the subject but where you surprised that Luke Spencer was still on General hospital? ?????

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  4. WOW. Beyond words. The scenery is so amazing it is hard to believe it is true. The colors, the peaks, the contrasts. I would have loved to see all the animals but here the scenery wins out.

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    1. I agree Marie...the animals are totally captivating to watch, but when it came to the scenery, that takes my breath away!!!

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